Reflecting on Recovery

One day, over 15 years ago, I pointed a gun at myself and prepared to pull the trigger.  Thankfully, I chose not to. Instead I made the harder choice — to stay alive, and do it without alcohol and drugs.


I made more choices.  I went to rehab, got a job and started working with troubled teens. I earned a masters in counseling, and wrote a book, based on my research and experience, about how diet and exercise can promote long-term recovery. I started a non-profit, Living Free Health & Fitness, to teach my recovery programs in sober living homes, at community venues, in rehab centers, and anywhere my experience and skills could help.


My choices created a life in which I speak out about my recovery, and help others to stay in recovery. It’s hard work. I spend days and nights — often seven days a week — counseling patients, networking, and raising funds to help others.


But it’s not as hard as my prior life.  Living for my next fix or my next drink was harder.  Losing my job, my money, my friends, my family was harder.  Looking down the barrel of a gun was much harder.  Losing all respect for myself was the hardest.


It turns out I made the easier choice years ago. I chose to recover, and to stay recovered by participating in the world again.  I chose to have a goal, to appreciate my successes and learn from my failures.  I chose to understand that living can be painful, but that pain can be dealt with in positive, healthy ways.


I didn’t choose to be addicted.  Thankfully, I chose to be a person living with addiction, and chose how I would live with it.  That’s the true lesson I’ve learned, and that I teach others.

(c) 2016 Shelley Poerio