Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Truth About Recovery: My Perspective

I have people tell me to sum up recovery for them, "In your opinion, what is recovery?" I find this extremely hard to do. I once heard someone say that recovery was like playing a country music song backwards, because you get back your house, your truck, your dog and your wife. I have gained so much in my recovery, that it is difficult to qualify or quantify what recovery means "for me."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of telling you what recovery means to me I will show you what it means to me:
I have an amazing family that I am a role model for. I hope that my son grows up to be a man like the one I am today and my daughter marries someone who treats her the way I treat her mother. I couldn't have said that 10 years ago.
 I am in long-term recovery!
 I went from an angry agnostic to a hope filled Christian!
 I shared my testimony with Brandon Heath and Third Day, who both had songs that impacted me. Third Day's song "Cry Out to Jesus" showed me that Christians were not all the judgmental close-minded people I believed them to be and opened me to give Christians a chance. Brandon Heath's song "I'm Now Who I Was" is the reason I chose recovery instead of going back to my old lifestyle! I owe my recovery to that song playing at just the right time!
 I have been on amazing vacations: multiple cruises, taken the family to Disney, parasailing in the Bahamas, swam with dolphins and sting rays, went sky diving, visited Universal Studios, etc.

I have had multiple politicians attend Better Life in Recovery events and make proclamations for recovery month: Senator Dixon, Councilman Compton, County Commissioner Bensch. 

 I got to hang out on the outfield at a Springfield Cardinal game with State Representative Eric Burlison when he threw out the first pitch.
I have had mutliple opportunities to speak, sometimes in front of 10 and sometimes in front of 1,000 people, about the Better Life in Recovery I have found, sharing a little hope with them and letting them know that not only is recovery possible it is amazing!

 I have gotten to be a part of things bigger than me. I am on the State Advisory Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Citizen's Advisory Board for probation and parole. One of the funnest and most rewarding things I get to do every year is sitting on the Department of Mental Health's Consumer Conference Planning Committee!
I got to attend the Unite to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, DC and make my voice heard!
Last but not least, in 2012 I started a nonprofit called Better Life in Recovery. That first year we had one event. In 2013 we had 3, in 2014 we had 7, this year we have had over 50 and in 2016 we are planning on having over 140 events!! 

Today, I make a difference not just in my life, not just in the life of my family and friends but in the lives of people I may never even get a chance to meet. That is what recovery really is, living to make yourself and the people around you better while expecting nothing in return. It is going from draining community resources to being a community resource. It is going from dealing dope to dealing hope, from destroying lives to rebuilding them. There truly is a better life in recovery.