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AA Wasn’t for Me, But Recovery Will Never Be ‘One Size Fits All’

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coffee and a newspaperOliver Thomas Klein

The last time I attended AA was Thursday, December 3rd, 2015. Just seven days shy of receiving my fourth chip had I decided to return to AA the following week. I am not really sure what convinced me to stop going altogether (how cold turkey of me), but I couldn’t quite shake this feeling of disconnect to that style of recovery. Please keep in mind that I do believe AA is great for the millions of people that it has helped, and still currently helps; but also, please keep in mind that it is not the only way to recover, and to remain in recovery.

The first time I attended AA, I am not going to lie, I was extremely out of my comfort zone. I was new to this whole thing, and naturally, I was hesitant to ‘drink the Kool-Aid’ that commonly surrounds AA. I wanted to go into this thing open-minded because I knew my life had to change, and I was looking for what would work best for me. I committed to it, and I went to weekly meetings every Thursday night, but it didn’t take me that long to learn I didn’t have to do recovery by the book (pun intended). I just needed to create a healthy plan for my life, and continue to heal with each day that I am given moving forward.

Although I may not have the chips to show for it, I am currently in my 27th month of recovery, and I can honestly say that this is the healthiest I have ever felt; mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The whole purpose of my recovery journey has been focused around figuring out who I am. In the process of that, I have learned many truths about myself that I was either numbing, suppressing, or blacking out altogether. I have spent the past 27 months diving into the depths of myself, and while some parts of me are darker and harder to understand, there are still many that I have finally learned to love about myself.

Understanding why I have always felt the need to run from every feeling, or chase a certain high, has been critical in the development of who I have become today. That is not to say that members in AA do not experience something similar. I am simply just stating that AA did not work for me in that way.

If I had to describe my recovery style in one word, it would be… connection.

While learning about myself, and deciding to share my truth with anyone who cares to read it…that has been the biggest driving force for me while in the process of healing past pain and being able to forgive certain chapters of my story. Connecting with strangers, and building strong relationships has been so beneficial, and critical, for the positive direction of my life. Although connection is not the only factor in my recovery, it is certainly the one that has become the most important to me, because at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to feel understood?

For me, recovery has been all about expressing myself in any way I possibly can. Through writing, I am able to say the things I have always wanted to say, but have never been able to say out loud. Through work, I am able to figure out where my strengths and weaknesses lie and learn how to receive constructive criticism. Through exercise, I am able to sculpt a body that represents health, and I have come a long way from the girl who had a warped sense of what she looked like on the outside. Through friendship, I am able to be there when I can, but also, I have learned that it’s perfectly okay to create boundaries if you need to. Through therapy, I feel safe in sharing the dark thoughts that live in the crevices of my mind, and I feel lighter with each breakthrough that I get because I was finally able to ask for help.

I am not here to convince anyone that my way of recovery works the best. I am simply here to discuss what has worked the best for me. When it comes to recovery, I say, ‘To each their own’. As long as you are doing what keeps YOU healthy in all aspects of your life, I do not care how you recover. I just care that you DO recover.

An addict may be seen as just an addict, but each addict is unique in their own way; to think that someone can force us all into one box, and tell us to ‘get with the program’, well that is a huge problem, and quite frankly, it’s unfair to expect to change anyone by force. Tell me, when has that kind of tactic ever worked when it comes to dealing with abuse of any kind? We must trust that people are honest with their way of healing, and give them the freedom to find the path that works the best for them. TC mark

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