Last week I went to a wedding shower, a wedding, a baby shower and a college graduation. They were all celebrations for people in recovery. And each one more proof of the miracles we see and experience in long-term recovery.
It was at the baby shower that it really hit me that I was witnessing big blessings. The shower was for a woman who came into recovery in her early twenties. I had seen her finish school, try two careers and several relationships—practicing the principles of recovery all the way. And then she met “this guy” and one date at a time they seemed to “click”. A few years ago they had a wedding and now—soon—they will have a baby.
The graduation was similar. A man in recovery trying school again. Using the principles of the program to get through school. Making plans and sticking to them. Showing up. Asking for help. Raising a hand. Saying yes. Doing what was asked. And being financially responsible. And all along the way, while doing his schoolwork, he was talking about it with sponsors, sober friends and in his home group. A collective energy seemed to write those long papers and take the difficult exams.
I write about this vicarious blessing in my book, “Out of the Woods”. Witnessing events like these is the “extra” that we get when we stay in recovery for a long time. We stop using our substances and behaviors but we also learn new skills in the rooms that we then learn to apply outside the rooms. We make new lives. We try school again, and parenting again and even marriage again.
Perhaps the most surprising thing that we enjoy when we stick to recovery a long time is this: We celebrate other people’s lives as well. After our years of self-centered existence we find ourselves cheering at someone else’s good grades, new jobs, engagements and new babies. It is a pleasure to celebrate our dear friends in recovery.