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Sobriety is just one aspect of the recovery journey. Here’s a look at the wisdom and the lessons that recovery offers. 

As we recover from addiction, we come to find that sobriety doesn’t just mean abstinence from our substance of choice, it’s also about developing a closer relationship with ourselves and searching for deeper truth in our lives. It can be hard for us to dig deep and really examine our unhealed issues, but the work we do on our mental and emotional health is critical to our ability to sustain our sobriety. We’re being called to access the deeper meanings of our recovery, beyond breaking our dependence on our addictions. What are we meant to learn? Who are we meant to become? What spiritual tests and transformations are we meant to undergo? What kind of growth are we meant to experience?

We often don’t want to answer these deeper questions for ourselves. We’re afraid of looking at our unhealed issues and inner pain. When we’re actively using, personal development and self-reflection are sacrificed to drugs and/or alcohol. We’re not thinking clearly, our judgment is impaired, and we’re completely disconnected from ourselves. We don’t have the wherewithal to be able to undergo the self-examination needed to even begin to ask these questions. We lack self-awareness and emotional intelligence. We distract ourselves from the emotional components of our recovery work because it feels too difficult, draining, and taxing. We’d rather get high than face ourselves. When we’re sober, sometimes our focus is still not on self-exploration, as often our main focus is on staying sober. We want to stay busy so we’re not tempted to relapse and we keep our daily lives full and our schedules jam-packed in order to keep ourselves from falling back into old patterns and perhaps to avoid thinking deeply about our emotions and lives. However, when we don’t give ourselves time for stillness and self-reflection, we miss out on all of the learning and growth that recovery can offer us. 

For many of us, our addictions are the spiritual tests we’re meant to experience in order to learn the invaluable lesson of self-love. We learn to love and accept ourselves fully and unconditionally once we come to terms with our addictions. We find that we’ve fallen as far as we can imagine ever falling, and we have to pick ourselves back up, little by little. We have to make our way back from rock bottom. We have to try to regain a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives so that we can figure out who we truly are. We have to come to terms with ourselves and find total self-acceptance. Learning how to love ourselves is one of the greatest and deepest meanings of recovery.

In recovery, we also about the complexities and universalities of human nature. Learning to forgive ourselves for all the things we’ve done wrong and all the people we’ve hurt because of our addictions teaches us to forgive those who have hurt us. Coming to an understanding of how our addictions have functioned and how we’ve used them as a remedy for our pain serves to reveal the omnipresence of unhealthy behaviors and relationships. We start to have more compassion for ourselves, people in our community, and for human nature as a whole. We learn to have more patience with people, especially when they’ve wronged us in some way. We see how suffering can be a powerful driving force for people. We see how much our addictions have impacted our own lives and we see the havoc we’ve wreaked on the lives of everyone around us. Therefore, we are able to experience a deeper understanding of other people who have fallen on hard times. We begin to be able to understand their pain and offer empathy.

Our recovery can serve as an invitation to look deeper within ourselves and our families to unearth some of the patterns that have been holding all of us back. When we start to look at our individual and collective stories, we see recurring issues and cycles pertaining to our addictions and mental health issues. We see how much we’ve all behaved in similar ways, developed similar coping strategies, and fallen into similar self-destructive patterns. We see how much we’ve impacted each other, how much we’ve learned and absorbed from one another, and how much we’ve influenced each other’s lives in both positive and negative ways. When we do this inner work, it can bring us closer to our families because we’re able to bring everything we’ve learned back to them, revealing what it means to understand ourselves fully from a place of compassion and self-love. Understandably, our families might have some resistance. It can hurt to ask ourselves deep questions and work our way through all the layers of unhealed pain. Let’s remember that we too had resistance at first and we managed to work through it. We can remind ourselves that if we were able to confront our fears, one of the deeper meanings of our recovery may very well be to help our families and other loved ones confront theirs. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.