Opinion by EHN Guest Writer
Written by Chris Howe, public speaker, recovered alcoholic and addict, and firefighter.
In recovery, I get inspiration from so many people, places, and activities on a daily basis. Especially in difficult times like these, with coronavirus and all its consequences, I feel it is crucial for my own growth and well-being to continue to be inspired and also to inspire others. And I believe that this is true for everyone else as well, since life in recovery is contingent on continual growth. I’ve written about seven things below that are daily sources of inspiration for me—but the list could go on! I hope that everyone reading this will be able to relate and possibly find something to add to their own lists of things that inspire them.
(1) Being of Service
It was said to me in early recovery that it’s crucial for us to give away what we have in order to keep it. I had no idea what that meant at the time. I was still thinking very selfishly and self-centered in every aspect of my life. I thought that my recovery was all about me! As I grew in my own recovery, I realized that it was contingent on a number of things. But mainly, the help of others who had walked the path. When I worked through the 12 Steps with a sponsor, I started to be more interested in others! I slowly lost the selfish, self-centered, fearful ways that I had clung to for so many years. The fellowship and network of healthy, clear minded individuals both in and out of recovery were the reason I had grown in recovery. By the end of my first year, I knew it was going to be part of a lifetime in recovery to help others as well.
Being of service, whether that meant sponsorship, speaking in public forums, responding to messages on social media or text, and volunteering my time at the detox center, soup kitchen, or jail, were where I really gained momentum and freedom in my own recovery. Being a small piece of someone else’s recovery helped me immensely and kept me and my own recovery in check. I couldn’t just talk the talk anymore, I had to walk the walk! Because other people were watching, if I made a suggestion to another struggling alcoholic or addict, and wasn’t living that suggestion myself, it would be seen as just lip service and have zero weight. This continues to be a huge part of my life and a daily source of inspiration. It’s something that drives me to do better and grow in my own recovery alongside others.
My fiancée and her six-year-old son are the biggest source of inspiration to me in my daily life. Jo, my fiancée, is almost eight years in recovery. She lives a healthy and balanced life while raising a beautiful son and expressing herself through her work as a tattoo artist. Her and I complement each other in life and recovery so well. Her journey did not include the 12-step program that mine did. That being said, we have learned different ways to live and thrive in recovery and can share those with each other.
Being a part of her son’s life and an example to him as a stepfather has opened my eyes to so much more that I hadn’t considered in the past. I learn from him to keep things simple and enjoy the small things in life. Seeing the world through his eyes is a great reminder to me everyday to not take a single moment for granted. He and his mother are a perfect fit for me. They inspire and influence me to continue growing and progressing in life and recovery.
(3) Health and Fitness
Unless I am sick or otherwise bedridden, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t take the time to move my body and make healthy choices as far as nutrition goes. Whether it’s going for a run, walking, lifting weights, boxing, or Muay Thai, I make sure that I include a healthy activity as an outlet for stress everyday. My goal isn’t to look a certain way but more to feel happy and healthy in a general sense. I do set small goals for myself in hopes of achieving them, but the main thing I gain is a feeling of accomplishment and a clear mind after pushing my body through a workout. Some days are better than others, but it’s about progress and not perfection.
I spend most of my day with music on in the background. It’s always been a big part of my life but more so in recovery. I find it can lift my spirits when needed or put me in a specific headspace depending on the activity with which I pair it. I think everyone should enjoy a soundtrack to their life. Music can be a source of daily inspiration and motivational for anyone. I enjoy finding certain genres and delving deeper into lyrics and melodies. Sometimes I use it as a motivational tool and sometimes it’s on in the background for me to set a mood or tone in my space. There is so much to learn and discover through music and I feel blessed to be able to hear it everyday.
(5) The Recovery of Others
I learn so much from the recovery of other people in my life. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. The daily inspiration that I get from people who are making great leaps and bounds in their own recovery pushes me to delve deeper into my own. Sometimes, unfortunately, people in my life relapse and as hard as that is for me to watch, I can learn from their actions so that I don’t have to go through it myself. I see myself in every addict out there. I can relate to and live through others which helps me grow and gain traction in my own life and recovery. I don’t hold people up on pedestals, but try my best to learn and grow alongside others who are walking the same path.
I wouldn’t be where I am in recovery if it weren’t for certain books that have helped me shape my life. The first time I opened the Big Book of alcoholics anonymous, I was in awe of the pages. Going through it with the help of a sponsor and dissecting pieces of it as well as the personal stories helped me push through many obstacles and hurdles in recovery. Prior to reading this book, I had little-to-no interest in reading. Today, I make sure to read passages from new books that are recommended to me as well as daily inspirational quotes, comments, or stories that people share online and on social media. If I can’t make it to a meeting, reading about someone else’s experience, strength, and hope is the next best thing for me to ground myself and stay in touch with the important things that recovery has to offer.
Probably the most important and crucial part of my day is writing down some of my thoughts, experiences, and challenges that I faced during the day. There is no specific time or place that I do this. I keep a log in the notes section of my phone as the day goes by. If there’s something I’m feeling, unsure of, proud of, or simply a thought that comes to me that I want to remember—it goes in my phone. When I get home, I write these things down in a book. I find that handwriting is the best way to record this sort of thing, if possible.
Sometimes I go back and look at the writings of a day, week, or month prior and I can decipher my mood through the simple strokes of a pen or pencil. Sometimes the writing looks jagged and firmly pressed into the page—then I can tell that I may have written it in an aggressive manner. Other times, it’s soft and light—those tend to be the happier and healthier entries. There’s a lot to learn from documenting and tracking your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.