Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Recovered versus In Recovery. What’s Your Answer?

I really enjoy chatting with those relatively new to the recovery scene. Their wonder, excitement, fear and skepticism is fascinating. I never tire of remembering what the world was like when seen through eyes that were once mine.

Recently one of these new friends asked me a question often heard, one that seems to spark a LOT of rather animated chatter among those in the rooms of recovery.

“Do you consider yourself recovered or in recovery?”

Now, there are those who firmly believe they have recovered and there are those standing firm they will always be in recovery, equating their quest for truth as a never-ending journey.

My answer is always the same.

“I have overcome the obsession to drink and control my body weight, shape or size. I remain in recovery to stay that way. This is what works for me yet I suggest you find what feels right for you.”

You see I don’t think this is about semantics. I suggest this is about what keeps people sober and free from a life of secrets and shame.

No matter how one identifies themselves in relation to their shift from the unhealthy behavior(s) they once faithfully served, who cares. No one is totally right and no one is totally wrong.

However when speaking with someone fresh from their last drink, drug, binge, bet, unprotected partner or exercise marathon, the idea of a recovery graduation isn’t one I chose to plant. I prefer to encourage the pathway toward a positive solution rather than a finite end result.

Some people have shared their thoughts about being “in recovery” somehow means they’re still struggling. I’ve no doubt that could be true if we’re only referring to what may have been a life-threatening behavior of choice, but isn’t life in general very often a struggle? At some point aren’t most people faced with unexpected situations which could lead them to feel vulnerable and emotionally weak?

In those immediate few seconds following one of life’s left hooks, I’m not so sure there’s 100% guarantee one will never, ever feel triggered to lean into what once proved soothing. That doesn’t necessarily mean returning to booze, drugs, food, sex or money but rather the thoughts and actions surrounding them.

Personally I’m not willing to take that chance.

Every day I hear stories about what happened when someone made a decision to stop doing whatever they did to get clean, sober and healthy in the first place. The outcome has yet proven beneficial. Maybe they didn’t re-engage with an addictive behavior but the account of how miserable their life became keeps me alert.

The important element is what I tell myself, what I believe, and what keeps me willing to move forward, learning more about what’s necessary to maintain the mostly peaceful life I now lead.

I don’t concern myself with what others think about how I identify my recovery status just as I have no business getting involved with how others perceive their transformation path.

Perhaps if we paid more attention to sharing what works rather than what we name our progression, we might better encourage others to seek what could work for them.

Today I hope my actions speak louder than any spoken answer.
A Moment to Breathe .

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2 thoughts on “Recovered versus In Recovery. What’s Your Answer?

  1. You are a very engaging writer. So classy and elegant. It’s great to connect with you. Bless you sweet Alison.

  2. Thank you for kind comment. I’m always grateful when someone relates to what I write because I know the message behind the words and shared practical experience (admitted or not) is what connects us. Clearly that describes us. Keep coming back!

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