I could easily spend 10 hours telling my war stories that happened in my life, but I have ten minutes, and I’d rather spend it on what really matters. I was suicidal since the sixth grade, and depressed, anxious, self-conscious, and lonely for as long as I can remember. I felt like an alien in my family, completely misunderstood and desperate. I eventually believed, deep down, that I was a broken mistake. When I discovered drugs and alcohol, I truly thought I’d found a way to medicate and get through life, but everything quickly got much worse. I drank as much as I could, as often as I could. I lost everything and was homeless several times, going from one abusive relationship to the next, and driving away anyone who actually cared about me.

Yet, somehow, I’m here today. Sober and healthy and utterly happy. I want to tell you why I believe anyone has the ability to be free from any affliction or hardship, no matter how desperate it may seem now.

I believe recovery is for everybody; everybody deserves it, and anyone can have it. I found it through AA and with the help of my higher power, whom I choose to call God. The good news about recovery is there is no one correct way to go about it. There are no rules. The essence, I think, is that a decision is made. There is a choice to turn from the old, destructive habits to seek a more positive, healthy alternative. But once recovery starts, it is very personal and will be different for each individual.

One of the best thing I’ve learned in recovery is to take care of myself and be kind to myself. This allows me to give so much more to the people I love, and to the world in general. I’ve also become stronger in the face of hard times. Life gets better, but I’m still faced with sickness, loss, stress, and other troubling situations. Today, I have intuition and a sense of being guided. I have bravery and courage, so I’m able to face these things instead of feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. These are just a few of the things I’ve learned in recovery, and every day I learn something new.

Today, I have repaired some relationships that were damaged during my illness. My dad and I are closer than ever. My brother has been a huge cheerleader and I’ve been able to show up as a reliable, trustworthy big sister. But, not all my relationships are fixed. But recovery works for me because at the end of the day, it is FOR ME. I’m not getting sober for anyone else, even though a lot of people are relieved and thrilled by it. I’m not getting sober to get my step-mom to talk to me again, or to make my dad proud. I do it for myself, and then no matter how others react, whatever happens around me, I remain unshakeable.

Today I’m unable to fully express the gratitude I feel for this new hope recovery has given me. I am certain I am a child of a loving God who walked me through a dark past that almost killed me, and has kept me alive for a reason. Today this idea and conviction sits in my heart like a warm light, and fills me with joy. We are all loved and we all have good to do in this world. Recovery taught me this and it’s my sincerest hope that anyone else who needs it may find theirs. It belongs to all of us.

by Amanda Gold

What Recovery Means to Me