Starting the journey of recovery is difficult. It’s lonely, it’s scary and I didn’t feel like doing it. I felt shame. I felt like noone else had experienced what I had experienced. Noone else could understand me. Noone else knew what I was going through. Even when I started going to counseling with Carol, I felt like it was all my fault that we were doing this, so there was blame on me. Guilt, blame and shame. But then, in our second counseling session, Carol shared how she had put one of her dreams on hold because of me, so I could follow my dream of going back to school and changing careers so I could go into ministry. She had done a lot and given up a lot for me. When I started attending recovery meetings, I found out that while each person’s circumstances are different, everyone in recovery had hurts, hangups and habits and a lot of pain that they were trying to deal with. Ultimately we’re all broken people. I changed my opinion about “those addicts” in recovery to “us people” who are all broken and realized that all people should be in recovery because everyone has pain and can benefit from walking through the recovery process.
For me, the guys in recovery with me were my support system. They knew the worst about me and loved me anyway. They didn’t judge me or try to fix me, but listened to me as I shared my story, my emotions and my pain. And I didn’t judge them or try to fix them but listened to them. We were able to pour out our hearts in a safe environment of anonymity and confidentiality. I looked forward to going to recovery meetings. It was there that I could be honest with the people in my support system about the struggles I was going through, the emotions I was dealing with, and the pain I was feeling. In addition to my sponsor’s support and the support of my recovery small group, my wife stood by me and supported me on my journey of recovery. And while my recovery was my responsibility and didn’t depend on her, without her support my journey would have been much more difficult.
Several years later, while I was still in recovery, my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Just as she had supported me in my recovery journey, I wanted to support her in her journey pursuing health. When she changed to a whole-foods plant based way of eating, initially I didn’t have a reason to change with her and didn’t really want to, but I wanted to support her. I thought that if making this change would help her it would also be good for me. So I made the commitment to go on this journey with her. All this to say two things: 1) Ultimately our recovery journey is our own responsibility but that 2) Our support of each other is crucial, and especially support from our spouse is a huge help in our recovery and our health, whether we’re talking about the 12-step recovery process or trying to live a healthier lifestyle, specifically in what we eat or not eat. I would encourage anyone who is listening and may not be in recovery but their spouse or their friend is in recovery or struggling right now, please support them and don’t try to sabotage the recovery or health journey they are on. Support them. We’re better together.