As part of my role as a recovery development worker for Addictions Support & Counselling in Forth Valley I have been playing a small part in helping to support this year’s recovery walk. The annual event is being hosted in Forth Valley this year and it has been my pleasure to take part in some of the planning meetings and help do my bit for the walk committee.
I took part in my first recovery walk last year in my hometown Glasgow. It was an incredibly special day which I found uplifting and emotional. I remembered some people who had lost out in their relationships with substances, and kept in mind those I work beside who are still maintaining a relationship with drugs that is often extremely harmful and seldom useful or beneficial. I remembered the many times I felt hopeless and helpless as my body convulsed as I was emotionally consumed by either the desperation of need or the futility of want. I thought long and hard about how great it feels to be alive, even during my worst days as a sober person.
Mostly I thought about my dog Kermit, who walked alongside me up the High Street, past George Square, down Union Street, and along the Clyde back to the green, just as he has been beside me through the worst of my addiction and the fullness of my recovery. The many relationships which I have been fortunate enough to experience with so many lovely people from my very late teens through to my mid-thirties, relationships that were blighted and tainted by my addictive behaviour, stand apart from the one constant that has existed in my life since I was 28 years old. I don’t think he has ever judged me, he has certainly consoled me and I believe loved me unconditionally even though there were times I was chemically prevented from reciprocating.
Kermit the dog has been a true friend, and although there have and remain others, as he reaches the twilight of his life I wonder how many more recovery walks he has in him? Hopefully a couple at least, he will certainly be fit and able to take part tomorrow. I guess the point of this introspection is focusing on my journey to this point, particularly in light of some of the inmates I met today in HMYOI Polmont. Unlike Kermit, most of the inmates I met today appear to be at the beginning of a journey. They will either be inside at the beginning of their sentences, or ready to be liberated to begin their journey as free people in our community once again, or at the beginning of a journey to explore recovery and what recovery means to them as a unique individual. For all the bravado on display, the same questions I am met with at mutual aid meetings or clinical assessments popped from the mouths of the inmates; how long have you been clean? How can you live without (insert drug of choice)? I couldn’t do that [could i?].
These questions always tend to direct me back to the question what is recovery? Which in turn directs me back to the question what does recovery mean to you? Recovery means to me change. Changing from a person who is passive to a person who is responsive. Changing from a person with few choices to a person who has many choices. Changing from a person who wants direction, to a person who seeks enlightenment. Changing from unhealthy to healthy. Changing from someone who fears change to someone who embraces life. Changing from someone who is rigid, to someone who is flexible. Changing from denial to acceptance.