Part 3: Once a ghost now a butterfly: My journey of recovery

Welcome to Part 3 and the final installment of my journey of recovery, if you haven’t yet read Part 1 and  Part 2 please click on the links and read them first.

So after finally admitting that I was in fact an alcoholic, my life turned into an even bigger roller-coaster! If that is even possible! I have been struggling with posting this part of my journey Despite all the hell that led me to the journey of recovery, recovery at times hasn’t always been pretty. At least the initial years weren’t.

I felt like a 13 year old child that didn’t know how to do anything. The fact that I was a newly promoted Sergeant trying to keep my shit together didn’t help. I took up knitting while attending 12 step meetings. I am not sure why but a lot of the young newly sober women were doing it. I even managed to knit my two dogs fancy little dog coats which they hated and on the first outing in them successfully managed to lose them!

Trying to discover who I was without alcohol was a very painful process. For a time I over indulged in casual sexual relationships and that certainly didn’t bring me any closer to discovering who I was. I look at photos from my early years of recovery and I still see a frightened little girl.

I attended 12 step recovery for the first year but didn’t actually do much about creating a life I wanted and healing my past. My second year of recovery was spent in the Middle East on deployment. Try being a year sober in a war zone. I came home a bloody mess. My third year started badly given I was still trying to understand what had happened in my head while I was in the Middle East but I managed to feel better despite trying to decide if I hated recovery or not.

1930653_38101001420_5048_nMy forth year was horrible. I had left the military and my partner broke up with me at the same time. I returned to live with my family and while I didn’t drink I wasn’t sober by any stretch of the imagination. My head was a bloody mess. Eventually, I got what is called a Sponsor and I worked the 12 steps! My life dramatically changed for the better…. Then I went back to a war zone!

I went to Afghanistan as a civilian and without meetings and a support group I did get twisted. Luckily I moved to Dubai and while I fought hard the internal battle of not wanting to go to a recovery meeting I knew it was positive in my life. My recovery was really good in Dubai and I grew a lot. So when my professional and relationship chapters of my life were done I knew it was time to leave Dubai.

When I returned to Australia 9 months later, I struggled to connect with the recovery program. Ironically this is where I had my first major successes but I no-longer belonged there. For a time I struggled with the fact I no longer wanted to attend meetings because in Dubai and before I had gone to Afghanistan and both in Sydney (where I got sober) and Perth, the other people in recovery became my social circle.

I have connected on a different level with other recovery platforms and thankfully due to the internet I am able to tap into a recovery program that fulfills my spiritual and recovery needs. That is not so say that I won’t reconnect with 12 step recovery when I return to Australia. I see my recovery has an organic life that needs to be nourished and developed. I have some misgivings about 12-step rhetoric but I also fully acknowledge it helped me get to the point I am at now.

With or without 12-step recovery here is the thing I need to tell you about recovery! It is amazing! Once you get through the initial OMG I am going to be boring without drinking, who will love me without drinking, the drink was my lover etc etc life gets amazing! Here is a list of a SMALL snippet of the things I have done sober:

  • Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro
  • Done an IRONMAN
  • Travelled to 50 countries sober (I went back to England and France sober in total I have been to 54 countries – and counting!)
  • I’ve walked the Camino de Santiago – even wrote a book which you can pick up here Camino – Amazon US
  • Run marathons in Dubai and China
  • I’ve added to my tattoo collection – I had 2 when I got sober I now can’t count them!
  • I have an amazing relationship with my Mother!
  • I’m currently studying and preparing to launch a company I have been wanting to for sometime now!
  • I’ve even danced on top of podiums in a Florence nightclub!

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Being sober hasn’t stopped me from having a life. There are only two things in life I cannot do! That is drink and drug. That is it. While there are many other things I choose not to do because they mean I don’t sleep very well; there are only two that would completely destroy all that I have worked to achieve in the last 11 odd years.

I don’t know when the ghost turned into a butterfly but at some point on my recovery journey I decided that I not only liked who I was sober but in fact I loved who I was sober. This woman is fully in love with being an eclectic, gorgeous, feminine, strong, confident and proud woman thriving in recovery.

I can only imagine the craziness and amazing things life has in store for me but one thing is for sure if I continue to follow a spiritual practice and honour that I am thriving in recovery then I won’t miss a second of it. No sitting on the couch wondering why I can’t travel, no waking up next to a guy who’s name I don’t know, no lying to my family and friends. It is going to be a roller-coaster and some things I won’t like but I will be present!

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If you are struggling with addiction of any sort I ask you to not sell yourself short. Seek help be it in the rooms of 12 step programs or elsewhere. Because you are worth living an amazing life!

Blessed Be,
Robyn

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