Many of us say stuff like “My worst day sober was better than my best day acting out” (definitely hyperbole, but whatever). If asked, most of us could make a list of the things that we’ve gained from recovery, and perhaps list some of the things we’d like to improve.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a checklist that we could use to measure our progress and help guide us in the future? Well, as it happens, those exist. You just don’t hear much about them in most or our fellowships. So I’ve presumed to look at a couple and herewith present an amalgam that I think works pretty well for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
You will probably notice that I used bullets instead of numbers here. That’s because these things pop up (and sometimes disappear) throughout our progress in sobriety. They aren’t things to approach in a particular sequence, or complete in 28 days. They aren’t really things we do at all, but signposts that pop up, often when we aren’t even looking for them, to announce how we’re progressing on the trip. We must always remember that recovery is a process, not an event, and the journey is the whole point.
Herewith, (Ta-Da!) some…
Signposts Of Recovery
- We develop some humility and come to believe that if our own answers aren’t working for us we’d better follow the suggestions of someone who knows some different ones. If appropriate for us, we develop faith in a superior being of our own understanding. If not, we use our supports as our higher power, because we realize that “I can’t, we can.”
- We begin to open up to others, peers, recovering people and professionals, to ask for help and to let them know who we really are. Even if this comes slowly, we can measure our progress by our admissions to ourselves that we could have done better in a particular situation.
- We start to notice changes in our priorities, from concern mostly for ourselves and our own success to a genuine desire to help others and see them succeed.
- We find that our avoidance of unhealthy behavior is becoming unconscious, rather than a constant battle.
- We have a growing acceptance of self. We begin to see that we are progressing, and that regardless of what we thought of ourselves (much of which may have been someone else’s ideas to begin with), we are improving and have the potential to rewrite that script and become someone whom we admire.
- As we start to accept who we are, we become able to relate to others without pretense. Honesty becomes a priority. We experience guilt when we give in to the little white lies (and bigger ones) with which we gresed our way through the rough spots of our lives. We increasingly realize that honesty actually is the best policy! (For one thing, we no longer have to remember the lies, just the facts.)
- We notice that we are no longer compelled to run from the pain of past and present. Instead, we are becoming willing to face our pain and deal with it, and get help doing that if needed. Facing and defeating our dragons becomes a priority, rather than something to fear.
- We sometimes discover that our ideas of or about spirituality are changing. If that is the case, we embrace the changes without guilt, knowing that they are a manifestation of our growing sense of self and what is right for us in our spiritual progress.
- Relationships — whether with people, substances or behavior — become a part of our lives, not our reason for living. Compulsive behavior no longer controls us.
- We now seek reality, rather than running from it.
- We return to, or finally achieve, real sanity.
Caveat: Any or all of the stuff you read here is most assuredly colored by my opinions, and is not to be taken as representing the view of any specific fellowship.