I was reminded today, with the help of friends, that the process of recovery is growth.
From my first day sober to present day feels like a lifetime of learning, or relearning, I suppose.
All these conceptions of who we are, what we’ve done, what’s expected of us from others and more importantly, from ourselves, they’re indicators in the metamorphosis of our experience. An internal switch where we slowly begin to see that we’re not different people in recovery, we’re just allowing the people we’ve always been to come through, free of whatever guises we used to hide ourselves, we’re slowly unveiled.
Over at my rehab center, Pete, my best friend, graduated today. I was filled with joy on the way over. Proud and happy for Pete and all the accomplishments that I’ve seen him achieve in his sobriety. I was also excited to meet his family, who I’d heard so much about from Pete. It’s always fun to discover where you’re friends have “come from” so to speak. It’s like an insider’s view of what’s come before, a sneak peek of the past, and, for Pete, the future.
We circled up and began the ceremony as we always do, sharing thoughts and memories with Pete and each other. And, when it came time for the members of Pete’s family to share, I was genuinely moved. I know Pete as a strong person, steadfast in his convictions, on top of his pain and his recovery. And, he’s shared with me his struggle prior to arriving at this treatment center. He’s been through several, and relapse has been a big part of his story. As I heard his family share, I could hear their relief. They see in Pete the same things I do, the kindness, the beauty, and the strength. But, it was also evident that Pete’s recovery has been a roller coaster ride for his family. And, they’ve all seen him through the twists and the dips. There’s still a fear there. An uncertainty that, this time around, recovery will stick. But beyond that uncertainty, I heard even more loudly, their hope. Like me, and perhaps more so than I, they pray and hope that Pete is OK and going to stay OK.
I truly believe that Pete is going to be OK, more than OK. And, if he isn’t, I will be there for him. He’s a rock for me, and a beautiful man. An upstanding and gentle soul, one certainly worth protecting and saving. His family knows this too. He’s got lots of support, and truly, I think a good support system is half of what makes recovery possible and successful. Systems to stabilize you when you’re about to go down.
As we continued around the circle, sharing our joy, the joy that is Pete, I felt his family grow too. They were able to see their son, brother, brother-in-law, as a man loved by others too. Pete has made his mark on our treatment center, and you could feel that energy in the room. The clinicians and facilitators joked, because Pete and I were known as “Rehab husband and wife,” virtually always joined at the hip. And, it felt like the end of an era as we finished up, enjoying Pete’s pink cake. With both of us graduated, it felt as if we were Prom King and Queen, dethroned. But, the truth is, our rule is just beginning.
Pete reminds me about hope when I’m down. When I’m in a place where family, boyfriend, AA, and my interests don’t seem like they’re enough, and the world swirls and becomes dark. Pete is that little star that reminds me: You’re not alone.
Saying goodbye to rehab was hard. Watching Pete say goodbye made the whole experience of treatment seem even further away. But, we’re free. We’re stars that get to rise and shine now without boundaries or limits. And, it’s up to us to hold on to that sparkle.
As Pete and I walk together, side by side, like old times from Starbucks, the Star Wars theme begins to play in my head. We’re Jedi. And, no matter where or who we are, the force is with us, shining within us, A New Hope.