Recovered or recovering? Is there a difference? Am I a has-been, a used-to-be addict? Recovery was and still is a complete lifestyle change for most of us. Recovery is positive change and growth in mind, soul, and spirit. In order to have true recovery, my mind, soul, and spirit must continue to change and grow. Daily. It has been said, “We are either working on recovery, or we’re working on a relapse.” Relapse does not always involve a substance, such as alcohol or drugs. I have “relapsed” with unhealthy behaviors, toxic relationships, and negative thought patterns.
The word recovered is a past tense form of the word recover. According to Merriam-Webster, recover means “to return to a normal state after a period of difficulty; to get (something, such as an ability or feeling) again.” I recovered from a hopeless state of mind. I recovered from thoughts of despair that I would never get clean, and I recovered my will to live. In this process, I recovered my peace and ability to love life again. “Will I ever truly be recovered?” seems to be the million-dollar question for many of us. My answer is no. Why? Because recovery is an ongoing, lifelong commitment. While I have recovered certain aspects of my life, I must never forget the sickness of addiction lies subtly still, waiting to once again divide and conquer. What I feed grows. I must not feed the monster! My last (and worst) relapse happened in 2011 and lasted for three years. That relapse taught me the subtlety of addiction, giving me all the evidence I’ll ever need as proof that recovery is lifelong, as in forever. If recovery is ongoing and lifelong, I am not recovered. I am recovering.
In the process of my research and brainstorming on this topic, I also ran across Merriam-Webster’s definition of recovering. Merriam-Webster’s definition of recovering is “[being] in a state in which you have stopped or are trying to stop a behavior that is harmful to you; being in the process of overcoming a disorder or shortcoming.” Wow! I have an abundance of harmful behaviors I have stopped and shortcomings a-plenty. I am in a state in which I have stopped the behavior of using; I am in the “recovering” category. I am recovering from a need for instant gratification. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I am recovering from a desire for acceptance. I am also recovering from my avoidant personality tendencies that occasionally bring feelings of inferiority and self-consciousness. Recovery is vital to my physical and mental health and overall well being, and I will forever be recovering. I know and understand I risk losing anything that becomes a priority over my recovery. My problem with addiction is not going to disappear; I am simply learning to manage the problem.
I use the term recovered when I refer to being a recovered meth addict. The obsession to use meth left me some time ago. However, I won’t tell you I have never wished for a benzodiazepine to reduce my stress-level during finals, and I won’t tell you I don’t have fleeting thoughts about taking a painkiller for my back or knee pain. My addict-brain still tells me on occasion to look for an easy solution, an easy way out. Recovery isn’t just about saying “no.” Recovery is about continuing to make important decisions and changes in my life in order to stay clean and sober. The more I choose to make to wise decisions, the easier the changes become. I become more sensitive to recognizing toxic relationships and negative thought patterns. If I will continue to address problems and issues as they arise, I can avoid relapse. By choosing to use the term recovering, I am aware I must continue making positive changes and growing in mind, soul, and spirit.
My name is Candace. I am a recovering addict since 6-17-14.
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