If only we could stop drinking or using. If only we weren’t struggling with depression or memories of abuse. If only our loved one could get sober. Then we’d be happy. Then life would certainly not be perfect but it would be so much easier. Or would it? Recovery brings a life filled with integrity and increased self-esteem. However, integrity is not synonymous with ease.For many, recovery means being wide awake for our lives. And life, as we all know, can be very complex. In recovery we are waking up to our feelings, the reality of our relationships and our financial issues among other things. Many of these were the very triggers that we drank over, used over, got depressed over, binged over. In the recovery process we may choose to walk away from certain aspects of our pre-recovery lives. We may get divorced, move to a new city, claim bankruptcy, start a new career.The truth is, recovery is a new beginning, whether we are immersed in our same lives or embarking upon a new one. And beginnings aren’t always easy. Life is challenging! Dealing with our anger, insecurities and grief are challenging. But we are finally really dealing with them. They can now be endured with integrity and gentleness, something that could never have occurred before recovery. Recovery gives us the tools to deal with the complexities of life. The things from which we’ve been running can now be looked at squarely. If our failed coping mechanisms of drinking, using, isolating were armor then recovery is Jujitsu. No armor needed.

A life in recovery is not one without hardship or struggle. It is one of being awake enough to feel the full range of life, good, bad and ugly. The more I talk to others who are walking the path of recovery, the more I realize that ease of life is not the goal. Instead, it seems the aim is to face adversity with integrity and along the way, be present enough in our recovery to appreciate moments of real joy.