In my early recovery, I was terrified; reentering the “normal” world terrified me, changing every single part of my life terrified me. I had to drop 99% of my friends and I was glad to do it because my new life was more important! If they were true friends, they would understand and maybe even come back into my life, if it worked for me. That’s the type of selfishness I need in my recovery, I was always a hedonistic, people pleaser and rarely thought about myself!
Once I got out of treatment I promised myself that I would always have pride that I could escape the circling demons of addiction and claw my way out of that pit, as a whole person. I found it very difficult to be in social situations in my early recovery because I was feeling emotions that I had never felt before. I found strength in wearing recovery tees because then every person I met would know that I was a strong and courageous person who is a survivor of addiction and that alone kept me away from the plague of beating myself down.
Once I got a little more comfortable with my emotions, I decided to go out and do small social things, armed with my escape route and recovery tee, I could slowly start enjoying life again! Random people on the street would come up to me and tell me about their own recovery and how much it meant to them. The tee acted as a channel for me to silently voice my soul’s desires. I didn’t feel as alone anymore, I found it easier to talk with others about my recovery, even my family members! That kind of pride and strength saved me from some bad situations, that may have dragged me back into that pit!
Since starting to wear recovery tees, I found myself being more open about my recovery. I wasn’t scared that someone would find out I was in recovery, I voiced that I was in recovery and talked about how it has bettered every part of my life. I haven’t run into a single person who reacted to this in a negative way, but if I ever do I will tell them, “ If you can’t respect me and the fact that I am bettering my life through recovery, then you don’t get the privilege of being a part of my life!” It’s that simple for me, I don’t have to be friends with everyone, I don’t have to open up to everyone, but the ones that deserve it, will be the greatest and deepest types of friends! Those are the types of friends I want and need in my recovery.
Once I started to be more social and do more activities, I decided that I wanted to go to a concert, something I would have never been able to do in my early recovery and without my recovery tee, which acted as a shield for me! I decided to go see Bassnectar, one of my favorite Djs. I searched the internet for a sober crew that has a tent at Bassnectar shows. No luck. I had heard that other bands had sober tents with meetings and everything, but not Bassnectar. I decided that I was going to go to this show, armed with my brothers support and my shielding recovery tee. I was dancing like an animal, really getting down, having an epic time! My soul needed to just be wild and let loose at that show through dance! A hand grabs me from the darkness and passes a joint my way. Without even thinking, I point to my recovery tee and laugh at the person, plunging back into the world of bass, still sober! If I didn’t have the powerful prop of the recovery tee to lighten the situation and that moment of temptation, it would have been harder for me because I would stop and think about it, then my brain would convince me of a lie. The recovery tee allowed me to do what I love and have fun, with an added layer of strength and armor between myself and that deep pit!
Thank you, Substance For You, thank you for giving me a voice when I was too weak to speak! Thank you for giving me a tool to tackle social issues with. Mostly, thank you for spreading the word of recovery and continuing to fight the good fight with all of us!
Charles Van Loucks
Sobriety date, 2/27/15
Founder: Recovery Partners, Inc.