To the person newly in recovery,
Let me begin by stating the obvious: I am not you and my path has not been your path.
If you are entering a period of recovery from substance abuse then we can reasonably assume you and I have some things in common, but my hurts have not been your hurts and the pain you carry likely feels very different from the pain I carried into recovery with me. We can know we are both wounded but our wounds are not the same.
In this way recovery and sobriety is very personal. It can be tempting to keep it very private to protect what dignity we feel we have left. These are thoughts and feelings that I understand.
And now, for the equally true but less obvious statement: While we have not taken the same steps, we have walked on the same road.
Our path has not been identical but our disease is more similar than it is not. We can both call addiction our enemy, we can understand one another at a depth that one who has not struggled with addiction and substance dependency cannot. Though our lowest moment may not have looked the same, it very likely felt equal to each other. You are not worse than me. You are not better than me. You are me, and I am you.
In this way we are not alone. In this truth it can be liberating to share our stories with another, not to brag and one-up in the way of a blinded society, but to reclaim our dignity with the power to be found in fighting back.
You are not your enemy. Addiction is your enemy. Your silence does not protect your dignity, it promotes the stigma of your disease. The disease lives in you but it does not define you. You define you.
I see beyond your past, beyond the person that you became before you fought back, I see you. Today you are victorious. Victory is worth celebration. You, friend who have joined the ranks of sober – for a day, a week, a month, a year – deserve to shout your victory from the rooftops if you so choose.
Today you have won!
Congratulations, I am so very proud of you. I hope that you are, too. Hold your head high. Reclaim your dignity. The road ahead is hard and you will need to be able to put your faith in yourself if you are to survive.
I believe you can survive. Do you?