After conducting a poll given to more than a hundred recovered individuals that suffered from addictions ranging from alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, self-harm, and sex, respectively. They were asked to list, in order, their top 10 reasons to stay in recovery, number 1 being their strongest motivator. The results were eye-opening, at times quite hilarious, but overall beautiful, resilient, and full of hope. While you are in the midst of your struggle, whether already in treatment at Shadow Mountain Recovery, or looking into it, these reasons may become some of your reasons, or at the very least they will give you something to hold onto, until you can find your own reasons.
- To prove them wrong. One responder to the poll wrote, “I know I shouldn’t have this really be a motivating factor to recover, but to be honest, it is. I have had so many in my life lose faith in me, and not really believe that I had it in me to recover. I was a “lifer,” branded that way, and forevermore, after that, treated that way. And it sucked. But not anymore! I am recovering, I am Doing It, and it feels goooooood. I hope they all know it somehow, and I hope they realize they made a mistake when they predicted I’d never get better. WRONG! “
For many, especially for those who have been in and out of treatment, or who have been grappling with their addiction for a long time, a lot of people in their life might lose hope. But there is always hope. Always. Because we, as humans, have in us a beautiful and innate ability to change, always. And in that changing, we can surprise the hell out of ourselves, and those around us!
- Because I have energy! It was a very common thing that those in recovery did not miss how tired and wilted their body and their minds always felt in the midst of their addictions. They reveled in their new bodies that felt strong in body and in heart and mind. This new energy gave them the ability to interact with their family, their children, their jobs, and their passions – skiing, hiking, horseback riding, without feeling tired, dispassionate, and removed from it all.
- Living is enjoyable. One participant wrote, “Yes, believe it or not, I actually LIKE to live! Sometimes something as simple as noshing on an Oreo with my kids, or rock-climbing with friends, just feels really good and really right, and I not only enjoy the company I’m with, but what I’m doing – all this LIVING, feels really good, too. All the moments – the big ones, and the small ones, are all a grand adventure.”
- Improved relationships. Those in recovery now have the desire and brain-power to be invested and interested in other peoples’ lives. To not have your addiction be the most important relationship in your life; but to cultivate and have real relationships that matter and that have substance and that bring happiness and vitality.
- To live a life with integrity. One recovered addict wrote, “There’s something really awesome about behaving in a way that is honest and right. Back in my addiction, I lied ALL THE TIME about my what I was doing, who I was with, how much I was using. I baldly lied to those I loved most. I quit caring about all the hurt I was doling out to those who only wanted me whole and well. I didn’t do what I would say I was going to do; I lost my job and cared little for my responsibilities. I became a master liar and manipulator. And it wore on my conscience. I couldn’t be trusted. But now, I can hold my head high and say with honest that I am who I am, and I’ll do what I say I’ll do. It feels really good.”
- To stick around. One recovered addict wrote, “I was told several times that I would die. And it wasn’t said in a casual, off-hand manner, either. My doctors were dead serious when they told me I would die if I kept my addiction up. I was hospitalized several times for OD’ing. My heart rate was skipping and stuttering around 160 and my blood pressure was circling the drain. And I was told this was all because of my addiction. When I was strongly entrenched in the addiction, I wasn’t sure I’d live very long, and I’m not sure I really cared. But I care now. I want to see my daughter walk down the aisle, and I want to go to my son’s high school graduation. I want to have a life full of beauty and color and vitality. I have that now, and I will always have it; now that I am recovered.
- For my family. One person wrote, “My life revolves around them now, quite happily. [their family] And when I was in my addiction, I wasn’t a very good mommy and wife. Hell, I wasn’t a very good human being, because I didn’t have enough energy for that, outside somehow making it through the day. And getting from fix to fix. But now that recovery is here, I have time and energy to devote to them, to love them even more than I did before, if that’s possible, and to really and truly appreciate them. They waited for me to get through this. They believed in me. The depth and breadth of my love for them truly knows no bounds. My capacity to love with out the addiction dragging me down is bigger than life itself!”
- Because I respect my body. Someone recovered articulated, “This was a tough one for me to come by. I haven’t always loved my body, in fact; I’ve damn near loathed it. A lot. I’ve abused and battered and disrespected my body because I thought it was bad and gross and ugly and wrong. But now, now I’m starting to see things differently. I’ve put my body through so much, and it has done nothing but be good to me, and, quite plainly, SURVIVE. I love it for that – for getting me through all the crap I put it through. And, it forgives me! It has bounced back, and I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever before been. I don’t want to hurt my body the way I used to. I’m never going to get another one. I’m done wrecking it. It deserves more. I do. too.”
- For God. (Or whatever you believe you’re higher power to be) One person polled wrote, “I don’t know if God is what got me to recover, but I do know the 12 Step program saved me during so many minutes and hours and days when I didn’t think I could keep on going. I don’t know if my higher power somehow solely took away my addiction, and helps me in my desire to stay sober. I don’t know all that for sure. But what I do know? I know that when, about a year ago, I decided to really engage in the 12 Step program, things started to get better for me. It got easier to see past my addiction and to see all the good things ahead for me. So, is it my higher power who did all those things? I don’t know for sure. But I do know that since I’ve invested in the 12 Step Program, things have gotten better. And that’s good enough for me.
- For me. I was stunned, blown away, and reduced to tears that nearly 75% of those polled indicated in one way or another that their top reason to maintain recovery was for themselves. So many of their stories touched me, but this one sums them all up, very well: “Before my addiction, I suffered a series of life-events that traumatized me; made me feel vile, and afraid to live. To feel less than any person. To feel like a devil draped in human skin. I hated myself. My addiction almost killed me, and I didn’t care. I believed I deserved every bit of pain, fear, and all the ugly that this world knows. Once I engaged in treatment, I realized I was good. It took a long time. It hurt. But now I see who I really am. I am a flawed, fallible, innately kind and beautiful human being. I stay in recovery because I now know I am worth it. That I have a right to take up space in this world and make an indelible mark just like anyone else. We all do. It is our God-given right.”
These were their reasons. What are yours?
All of these reasons to recover are real and beautiful. We will discuss the last five in next week’s post.