“The great part about recovery is that you can feel again. The lousy part of recovery is that you can feel again.” 

My goal, when I was still in my disease, was to numb the feelings that flowed through my head. I wanted to escape how I felt about myself, about others and about situations. I couldn’t deal with how I was feeling so I tried to eliminate them completely. Loneliness, depression, fear, anger and resentment were some of the stronger feelings I felt more or less at any time and often in a combination of two or three. I had only one way to deal with them, and near the end, even that didn’t work. I didn’t know how to live with them. I guess I missed that course in life: Dealing with Feelings.

For the first three or four months in recovery I was on the proverbial ‘pink cloud’ where everything was wonderful. Then it hit me. I had started to work on Step Four and I was realizing all of my defects of character. As the saying goes, a sober horse thief is still a horse thief. I might have been in recovery, but I was now a ball of emotions and feelings that I had to learn to manage. I had begun to feel again. I remember going on a bit too long at one meeting. Afterward, another member asked me it I had a sponsor. “Of course I do!” I replied somewhat proudly. “Maybe you should use him,” suggested the member.

It was in the heart to heart discussions with my sponsor that I first started to learn that to deal with feelings I first had to accept them. Using examples of his own life, he showed me how he worked through those strong feelings in early recovery, just as I was doing: by working with his sponsor, by talking about them and by discovering their source, the ‘exact nature’ of those feelings. Why was I angry? Who or what was I angry at? Was there threat to me? What can I do to diminish my feelings of anger? I learned how to do the same with other feelings as well.

Analysing my feelings helped to diminish their strength and power. I learned that I needed to acknowledge what I was feeling and where it was taking me. I didn’t have to allow the feeling to take me into depression or loneliness, anger or fear. I had a choice. My feelings didn’t have to dictate my reaction. If I was lonely, I could go meet a friend or pick up the phone and call someone.  I  didn’t have to wallow in loneliness, allowing it to spiral me downward into deeper and deeper sadness. Often I would just get on my motorcycle and drive and drive and say the Serenity Prayer over and over until I felt peace replacing the strong feelings that threatened my recovery.

My life is manageable today and I lived more in tranquility than chaos. The frequency of those strong feelings is diminished. Strong feelings still do come up but not as often and I know that I can’t avoid them. I have to deal with them. It’s my choice when I do so, but sooner rather than later works for me and frees me to enjoy my life and not be burdened by it. I am grateful.



Step One invites us to admit two things: that we were powerless over alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., and that our lives had become unmanageable. I had a hard time with the unmanageability part. You see, when I first got sober, a lot of the things that I wasn’t able to manage in my life suddenly became manageable. The first couple of weeks were a bit tough financially and I remember wondering where I would have gotten the money to feed my habit for the rest of the month had I not quit, but in truth, I know that I would have found the funds somehow.

After a few weeks, I discovered that I now had the money to pay all of my bills without juggling the monies around credit cards and accounts so no one was on my tail about paying up. I  began to do necessary repairs and maintenance on the property and so tenants weren’t at my door complaining. My little ‘fiestas’ had stopped. I was keeping the house clean, doing laundry and even finding time to read again. Things were turning around so quickly that it was easy for me to see how my addiction had caused all of the unmanageability in my life.

But then something changed. I ran into a problem and I didn’t know how to deal with it. My first thought was to find something to take the edge off. That had been my ‘modus operandi’: using something to help me forget the problem and pretend that it wasn’t a problem after all. But hanging around the folks at meetings must have been helping because I knew that probably wasn’t a good option. I got on my motorcycle and drove. I headed out to the country and just drove and repeated over and over again the Serenity Prayer.

Gradually the emotion that had taken control of my mind began to subside. Slowly I calmed down. Like a mantra, the prayer helped rid me of distraction and to focus on what I needed to do: go to a meeting and talk to my sponsor.

I learned through this and other experiences that manageability is more than paying bills and doing what I should have been doing all along. It’s easy to have a manageable life when things are running along smoothly.  They don’t always. Manageability has to do with living life on life’s terms and accepting what comes along and dealing with it as it arises. I had to learn new ways to manage my life. I need the program not to iron out my life but to help me face it. I needed, and still do need my recovery program to guide me when things don’t go according to my plan and problems arise.

I still get overwhelmed at times. Something seem to be insurmountable and I feel I can’t deal with it. Stepping back, walking the dogs, and still driving on my motorcycle help me to clear my head and put a plan in place. While I can still spiral down into unmanageability, I now have solutions to help me make the turn around and I have my program to thank for that.


Falling Together


“Just when it looks like life is falling apart, it may be falling together for the first time.”                 …Neale Donald Walsch
     I was a little more than a year into recovery when I broke my leg. I remember thinking, while I was lying there waiting for the ambulance, ‘This is going to change a few things!’ I ran my own business (a Bed and Breakfast Inn) and did most of the work myself. A couple of weeks later my relationship that had been limping along for several years finally ended. I thought, ‘What the hell, is this going to continue?’  My ‘go to’ for keeping myself somewhat sane was going to about 12 meetings a week and driving my motorcycle to out of town meetings. That wasn’t going to be happening for a while. The final thing was that I had already started the process with my doctor of weaning myself off of anti depression medication so I was ‘phasing’ every once in a while
     For the first month or so I was pretty much confined to home. I hired two people who were also in recovery to help me do all the work at the B&B. My mother and my ex pitched in when they could as well. And it was all working out fine. My sponsor came to visit as did other program friends. We had meetings around my bed at first, and later in the living room. Friends lent me some recovery literature. And I survived.
     I also learned several things. I learned that I didn’t have to do anything alone if I didn’t want to. I learned again of the generosity of people. I learned that things didn’t have to be done ‘my way’ to be done ‘properly’. I learned that my ‘perfectionist’ ways could be a whole lot more flexible. I never heard one complaint that I didn’t make the muffins or that the bed was made wrong or the bathroom was dirty. Everything got done just fine.
     I learned that while I wasn’t all that happy with how my life was at this particular moment, I was learning in recovery to play the ‘long game’. I might not see exactly what was happening or why it was happening, but I could trust the process and know that all was happening as it should. And I learned that I could survive and stay clean and sober even when the wheels fell off of the cart, or in our case, the wagon. Finally, it was at this point in my life that I began my journey deeper into spirituality and awakening.
In the time since that epic month of August in 2012, everything that came apart, came back together. After a couple of operations, a hard cast, a soft cast, walkers, crutches and canes and a month of physiotherapy, my leg healed.  A year later the business sold and I moved full time to Costa Rica, which had been a dream of mine. I haven’t had the need to return to medication for depression and I am still in recovery. There was a lot of change in a short time and a new me emerged from the ashes.
     Other momentous things have happened since in recovery. I now tend to look at them as stepping stones on the path. Some I have liked and some I would have preferred to avoid, but if that’s the next right step, then I take it. I’ve learned to trust my Higher Power and the process. My life fell back together in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I am grateful.