The real heroes are too often forgotten.
It is undeniable that it takes tremendous strength and courage to take that first step into recovery. In addiction, those are qualities that only the drink or drug gave us. But those of us who somehow manage to grasp a glimmer of hope and move towards a life of sobriety are often labeled as heroes. Don’t get me wrong, it is an incredible task to enter and maintain recovery, it requires the mindset of a warrior. However, what about the ones who have stood by and watched us as we gave all we had to our own self-destruction. Far too often they are the forgotten ones in recovery.
When we enter recovery there is much to celebrate. We have made a commitment to bury the old self and allow a transformation to happen within us. Our family and friends are relieved that there is hope that we can live again. But do they, and more importantly should they, share the same enthusiasm that we feel. Feeling a loosening of the chains of addiction has us running for life of promise. We may face obstacles because our loved ones are not sharing that same level of excitement that we are. We have suddenly flipped the script and are no longer just existing. But we cannot expect those in our inner circle to follow suit so quickly.
I remember coming out of rehab and feeling so alive, so free, able to experience things with all my senses for what seemed like the first time. Some of my family came to the graduation ceremony and there were smiles and tears. But the ones I truly wanted to be there were my children. They either couldn’t or just weren’t ready to be there. I wanted them to see their Dad who was becoming better. It was a selfish act on my part and a sign that I had a long ways to go. I wanted their approval, I wanted them to be proud, I wanted to be able to say I was sorry and be forgiven. But in all the exuberance of the moment the real heroes of my recovery I had forgotten. It was no longer about me, was a lesson I was getting ready to learn.
What took years to destroy would need time to rebuild.
The frustration I felt was never towards my children but towards the fact that my “expectations” of us all recovering together were not being met. I wanted them to be exactly at the same place as I was. There was the crux of my frustration and the objective of the lesson. It was not about me ANYMORE. It would become about what I could do for others. I began to realize that my children, my family, were proud of me but that they too were going through their own recovery. The damage and pain that I had caused them began to become apparent. No wonder they were cautious after all the let downs with my drinking they had experienced. I learned the best thing I could do for them was to continue to recover.
I was not able to see my youngest daughter for the first 2 and a half years of my recovery. My oldest was fighting the same battles I was with her own addiction. But my boys had been there all along. They had seen me slowly rescind into a father figure they did not even know. There were never enough sorry’s to go around but that is not what they needed or wanted. They needed something simple but not easy for me to give them. They needed time. Time to process it all. Time to see if Dad was really going to be who he seemed to be becoming. My son Blake wrote how he had become a casualty of my alcoholism. It took me years to get to rock bottom, it would take them some considerable time to climb out after me.
Once I was able to step back and set good boundaries for my recovery with my children and family things naturally were set on a course for renewal. I had to let them come to grips with my alcoholism in their own ways. It was accepted that they might be angry, not trusting, and confused. In Romans 8:28 God says that “all” things work together for good for those that love Him. That is a truth, a source of power, that I place my faith in one day at a time. I knew that if I did my part in recovery that the relationships with my children would also recover. It is something that we still deal with and work on today. But we have found at least a foundation to build upon once the dust of the implosion of addiction had begun to settle.
I salute the real heroes of my recovery.
With all the fanfare surrounding our recovery we too often forget the real heroes of our recovery. The real heroes are the ones who stood by us as we were hell-bent on self-destruction and have found the strength, courage, and faith to stand by us once again as we recover. As addicts and alcoholics we give our families, those closest to us, every reason to give up on us. We put them through literal hell so would they even be remiss to hate us. Their recovery is something I cannot try to control, it is for them to find. All I know at this point is that I must live with faith the truth of a transformed life.
I know that by doing that I give those I love a chance to mend and themselves recover from what I have done. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far but I am no hero. The real heroes are the ones that have chosen to still stand with me. Who have taken hit after hit and have gotten back up to love me again. My parents, my siblings, my children who have found it within them to have faith in me. I ripped open their hearts and left them to piece it back together. They stand by me still. They are the real heroes, the ones we too often forget. Please leave a comment about the real heroes in your recovery.