About four years ago I went into a thirty-day treatment program near my hometown, which did me absolutely no good for keeping me sober, but what it did provide was an opportunity for laughter and play – something I hadn’t experienced in several years. I went in there terribly depressed, you see, and left the day a rainbow appeared across the land in the west. Perhaps it was my sign to go west (which I have) but at the time, I thought of it as the universe’s way of saying that I’m being guided (and I am). The day I left, the counsellors gave me an opportunity to stand up and share something with the large group of recovering addicts. I was not afraid to stand up and share with them what I had gotten out of the program. I was well accepted in there, which was a strange thing because many of them were federal prisoners and others were from parts of town that I would have avoided when I was younger. I am white as white can be with red hair and freckles. I was the minority in this setting. It was a rough group, but I managed to make short-term friends and to have fun while I was in there. The one thing about being in recovery is that it levels us out. As a whole, we are quite accepting of others.
Because there was a rainbow spread across the sky, which everyone admired that morning, I decided to use it in my speech as an opening and also in my conclusion. My memory of the speech is vague, but I do know I told the group that all I wanted in life was to become the best possible version of me. I said that it was important to me to live my life to its fullest, and to see how far I could go. This is what recovery has always been to me. Recovery isn’t just learning how to live sober. It’s learning how to LIVE. To BE. To GIVE. To RECEIVE. It’s becoming completely OPEN. And TRUSTING – not only the universe, but TRUSTING MYSELF. It’s WALKING THE TALK. It’s being WHO I TRULY AM, which is not a sloppy drunk, or a lazy dreamer who takes no action. When I left my group of peers that day, I received a lengthy applause. I made an impact, and it was time to mean what I’d spoken, so the journey began, but little did I know that I would drink heavily again and end up in another treatment center that taught me HOW to do everything I decided that I was going to do that day.
The magic wasn’t the demonstration of the rainbow that morning, but the way I felt when I saw its glory – how humbled I was in that moment of knowing that I was being guided. It appeared at the exact right time – when I needed humility most. The magic wasn’t the people who applauded when I spoke in the thirty-day program, but the ones I met in the six month treatment facility who rolled their eyes and brought me down to reality, teaching me that I was no better off than anyone else in the groups we attended. The magic was the anger that arose when my counsellor spoke truth to my haughty ego, and the rage I felt when I didn’t get my way. The magic was the constant scoop of humble pie, and the understanding that I was human. The magic was me in the making, not the outside of myself that seemed like it was the real deal. I was the real deal. Inside of me was the whole universe, but I had yet to learn to navigate from within, rather than surviving without.
We often go through life trying to achieve what we think we lack, may it be love, money, truth or stability. We try to rid ourselves of the things that we don’t like, forgetting that the source of EVERYTHING is one single mass of energy. Nothing is created outside of this single source of energy, including the stuff we don’t like. We forget that we are that very source of life, of love, of abundance, so we go out searching, misguided by the idea that we are here to obtain things, rather than to simply experience life as everything. We are everything, you see. When we label the world by our preference of people, places and things, we discover ourselves lacking and longing, but when we walk in the world knowing that all things are created equal from that one source of energy, we understand that we lack nothing. There is nothing to lack because all that is, is from one single source. Once we stop discriminating and preferring, we become open to receiving the abundance that always is and always was. When we stop resisting our experiences (because we tend to prefer happiness over grief), we understand that it is all one and the same. We trust that all we experience is part of a greater whole, so we accept the anger as well as the laughter. This is what recovery is becoming for me. It’s not trying to reach my goals, but learning about myself during the journey. It’s not becoming a best-selling author. It’s simply loving my life as I’m writing. I no longer prefer to be a millionaire over being a struggling artist. I’ve only struggled when I’ve believed I was lacking something. This, right here, right now – is lacking nothing. It is full of emotion, of experience, of gratitude. This right here is being present, rather than pining for something that seems out of reach. This is what recovery has been for me.
The magic is never the illusion of a rainbow (which is only there because our eyes reflect light and images). It is the wonder that is felt when we notice the rainbow’s presence. It is never the person that offers us love. It is simply the love that the person brings forth into our experience. The magic of being human is feeling human. It’s being so aware of who you are, that nothing outside of you can bring you anymore happiness than you already are. This is what recovery has been for me. It’s simply been me, finally knowing ME. And I’m not anywhere near a point of arrival in my recovery. Everyday gives me opportunities to find out who I am, what my limits are and where I need to improve. Every day is a great adventure into my own being, a practice of giving and receiving, and a playground of self-discovery. I always thought when I became sober, that I would finally be happy because I would travel the world, but what I am learning, is that the world is right here, right now. That’s the goods right there! That’s the greatest understanding that recovery has offered me. Acceptance of where you are right now and what you have right in front of you, is knowing abundance. It is lacking nothing. It is bringing forth everything you need at the exact right time. It is where the magic resides!