Why I'm Quitting Recovery – and What I'm Embracing Instead


Today is the day no one hoped for, but many expected. I am done. I am giving up on recovery. It no longer fits with what I want in life. The whole thing seems like such a standard “out” for people who decide they do not like the path their lives have taken. The thought alone of recovery sounds like much more work than I feel like doing and something I am not sure even appeals to me

Let’s look a little more critically at what the definition of recovery is:

Recovery is the act of refinishing or re-upholstering furniture.

Recovery is making a comeback after a mishap while competing in the act of athleticism (think of the New England Patriots 2017 Superbowl performance).

Recovery is the process of recuperation your body or brain undergoes while healing from a traumatic injury or a major surgery.

In swimming or rowing, recovery is the action of bringing the arm forward for another stroke.

In golf, recovery is a stroke played from the rough to the fairway or the green.

In a courtroom, recovery is the obtaining of a right by the judgment of a court.

Recovery is the positive turn of events at the end of an economic downturn or recession.

Recovery from an environmental perspective is the extraction of useful substances from waste.

Recovery is the return to a previous mental or emotional state.

You get the idea.

Why would I want to recover? None of these things are goals of mine. The last thing I want to do is return to my previous emotional or mental state. In fact, by returning to that former state, I am re-welcoming isolation, avoidance and anxiety. I think I will stay as far away from recovery as I can.

It’s not as if I have not thought a lot about this or as if I do not have a plan. I plan to trade in the term “recovery” and adopt the term “reclamation.” I am deciding from this point forward to take back what is mine.

Reclamation, to me, means several things. First, least significant and most obvious, is the act of physically picking up “things” I have left scattered all over the country throughout the last several years. This includes my favorite North Face pullover left in a friend’s trunk who dropped me off at the airport while making a quick escape to Las Vegas, my Tag Heuer watch left on the bathroom sink of an ex-boyfriend. My washing machine, dryer and bedroom set that have found an almost permanent home in a storage facility.

You get the idea. It is not (believe it or not) about retaking control of my material objects — but more about acknowledging the state I was in when I abandoned those items and apologizing for putting my things into the hands of another person without asking their permission first. There is a chance my watch is long gone — things with my ex didn’t end so well. If that is the case, I got what I bargained for — but this gives me the ability to once and for all reclaim the real estate that has been occupied by thoughts of how things ended. The time has come to use that space for something worthwhile and productive.

Reclamation also means it’s time I take credit or responsibility for things I have done. Good and bad. It means acknowledging I am in control of and responsible for my decisions or actions and what happens to me as a result of those decisions. I am trading in my ability to play victim from this point forward — and in return I’m receiving empowerment. Being empowered means that no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant things may seem — I am never “stuck.” I am empowered to do or be whatever I want to do or be, and the only person who holding me back from this point forward is myself.

Reclamation is a holistic act. It is, again, learning to take the traditional approach to maintaining my health. There are no quick fixes or pills to pop. Only restoring healthy thinking and a no-nonsense approach diet, exercise, moderation and prevention. Reclamation does not purport to be an instant process, it requires a continual effort and is a process of healing and redefining myself.

Reclamation is taking back my role(s) in society – with family, friends and as well as professionally. I allowed a significant portion of who I am in relation to others (a mother, daughter, niece, a boss) fall by the wayside. Reclamation is also taking back the rights and responsibilities that come with each one. It is rebuilding my life and rejoining my community.

I do not like to get caught up with jargon or buzzwords. I want to use terms that are practical, and it is a lot easier to use words that describe what I am doing instead of words that sound interesting. I am not suggesting the term recovery has become a psychobabble buzzword…well, wait. I actually am suggesting that it has. In fact, there is no doubt about it. I need something that works better for myself.

I apologize if you thought this was going to be the same tired, worn out string of consciousness that I have so many times used to make excuses or justify why I should be allowed to doing things in a way others are not. The shit finally grew old. That sense of entitlement no longer resides with me. I recently traded it in for sensitivity and humility. If you were watching and from the sidelines hoping I would fail miserably (and were excited by the first few lines), I am sorry to disappoint you. I am sorry to let you down. There isn’t the end of anything for me right now… at least, nothing other than recovery.

This piece originally appeared on Daily Sober.

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