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30 Years In Recovery: If You Know Now What I Didn’t Know Then. Part One.


November 2022

One thing I’ve always lamented in recovery is that I can’t take what’s in my head and cram it into the thick skull of someone new to recovery… not so they could have my experiences, but so they could know there doesn’t need to be fear in working the steps. I was one who procrastinated with the fourth step till I damn-near drank. The sad thing, really, was a lack of ability to understand exactly what I would have needed to push me over the start line. In fact, hesitation to work a step is a lot like a runner who gets up to the starting line of a race and stops dead in his or her tracks just before crossing and says, “You know, I just don’t think I’m ready for this… I think I’ll stand right here for a while and contemplate my options. What if I put my foot over that line? Will I still be happy?” Newly recovering people do this regularly.

Those outside the program might think that sounds legitimately crazy, but read step four and step five and think about doing that in your life. If that doesn’t strike a little fear and hesitation, you aren’t fully grasping the task. Give it a go and get back with me in the comment section what you think.

Part One of this series is very simple; let go.

If I had any idea how good the freedom from my baggage would feel, I’d have leapt at the opportunity to start immediately. In fact, letting go of old habits to grow closer to the light is an ongoing saga in a recovering person’s life. As we get closer to the light, more of the mess we have about us becomes visible as the illumination increases.

Looking at the new mess to clean up in a negative light was entirely wrong, but reflexive. Until recently. I tended to cling to that mess because at least it was a comfortable mess. Letting go is always a touch on the nebulous side. What if things don’t work out in my favor? What if I don’t like the change? How will my desires (which are often mislabeled “needs”) be met?

What if, just like cleaning up all of the previous messes in the last thirty years, life becomes more enjoyable, though? And so I’ve come to embrace cleaning up newly illuminated messes. Sure, it’s hard work and I usually find I’ve got a lot more to learn… and sometimes the cleanup process is even a little embarrassing. The rewards far outweigh that petty bullshit.

Try it. You just might like it.


  1. I’m grateful that my messes are a lot simpler to clean up nowadays. They don’t compare to the train wreck I once was. Congratulations on 30 years of recovery. That’s glorious!

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