Early recovery is nothing, if it is not a business.
"What?" I hear you say. We in recovery are about spirituality, personal relationships, service, self—discovery, and so much more. It is not about money, and we can't achieve it like we develop our muscles at the gym or our minds at a library.
Yes, you would be right, and yet not completely. In the beginning, early recovery for me was not a onewtime, blazing light of epiphany, but a little spark followed by much hard work and some careful planning. Not too dissimilar from taking an idea for a new product, create a working plan, get some good outside consulting, and build a company from the ground up.
Re—building my life was just like that.
I had dragged myself into recovery several times over my ten years of using. AA and the non—AA types. Sometimes willingly, and sometimes kicking and screaming. I would invariably get a little of that new sobriety stardust on me and just knew all the work was over. I felt great, my problems were sorting themselves out, be they relationship, financial, or legal. And then it would somehow be a shock to me when I was drinking and drugging just as hard as before.
The last time that I got sober (July 14, 1998) it was different. Not the intent. Nor the desire. Certainly the necessity was the same. I have often wanted to believe that it was due to the fact that I had a daughter on the way, or the end of my twenties were on the horizon, but it may have been a confluence of things which worked together and caused me to set out a plan and work it feverishly. Finally, after years of recklessness and chaos, I was all business.
Church. Group therapy. 90 AA meetings in 90 days, then three to five per week. A sponsor. A spiritual adviser.
Individual counseling with a neuro—psychiatrist who specialized in addiction medicine. Family therapy. Volunteer work, even abroad delivering medical care in Haiti. With a full—time job, who had time to drink? Then the baby came!
I was a hardcore drinker and drug—user. My life had been shredded over and over again. I needed the big business attitude of intense recovery to get it inside my head. It was 100 percent,
24/7, and it meant in entirely new way of life: recovery books and magazines, sober people who I intrinsically knew to trust, hours of meditation, service to others, meetings/meetings/ meetings. I was building the foundation. Brick by brick. A truly solid foundation upon which to set a completely new life. Only
I did not know how str ng it would have to be.
Recovery does not mean that you will not make mistakes.
That life will always go as planned, or simply because you decide to follow most of your program that the ignored parts won't have lasting negative effects. The two years of intensive recovery work coincided with two years in which I worked for a dermatologist. I had lost my PA license in another state, but the medical board permitted my work as a surgical assistant.
In no time at all, I was ignoring the first rule of recovery:
Honesty. I wanted to put all the pieces of my broken life back together again, and though all involved knew that it was wrong, my employer began scheduling patients for me to treat as a PA.
I was treating patients and operating every day as if my past was forever lost. It was not.
The ugly truth came out in a stupendously ugly divorced where my eX— went to the state's attorney general with her divorce attorney and reported us. A month later I was arrested for the evening news and my entire life was being flayed once again for the world to see. I had thought that I was putting my life back together and I ended up sealing my fate, or had
I? It was ugly, and hard, and painful for me to endure, but it was my truth. Of course, there were numerous filings from former patients who I had treated over the last two years, and my freedom was gone, and all seemed remarkably bizarre, but
I never relapsed. Something had stuck during my many months of recovery, and I held onto what I could on the inside.
My former boss/co~defendant took a plea agreement on the third day of our joint trial ensuring a probated sentence for him. Now I was up against the wall, and decided to take the only deal left, which sent me to prison. Ironically, the same prison which had held most of the several hundred patients I surgically treated over the last two years due to a contract with corrections. To the world—at—large, my life was over. I can tell you from the heart that this is when my life truly began.
I did not feel sober until prison. Everything changed.
There was AA, church, intensive therapy with a psychologist whom I could address some core issues, physical fitness
I thought impossible, a few incredible friendships, groups, teaching, a spiritual adviser, and so on. My AA sponsor never gave up on me nor did my family. My mother and grandparents humble me with their love and strength and courage. I discovered much about us all. There is bond there which could revive any cynic. Prison can be a desolate place filled with violence, disease, abuse, and utter loneliness. These miracles of love and recovery occur not because of prison; they occur in spite of prison.
I am still led to believe that the early work, the intensive matter—of—fact way in which I spent those first two years prior to my arrest saved me. Like an anchor, I did not know what would happen next, but I had inoculated myself with recovery to where it felt natural to not be high, and I knew how to stay sober in the storm. The business of recovery is never far underneath all the other work that I am able to do today. It gave me a life much richer than it could have been any other way, which is something I am writing to you from a prison cell. Such a perspective we have been given on this journey. It never ceases to amaze me.
So, ask yourself, "Am I true entrepreneur in this business of recovery?" I believe those who succeed are. We are leading this venture effort in which we believe with every bit of our being. We draw from various departments ~within us, like spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. We call in the outside experts through spiritual advisers and therapists.
We form conglomerates through groups, meetings, lovers, friends, and such. And as our own personal CEOS, we see our plans and hard work come to fruition. Even with this analogy, I still can't call it "profit" per se. This great, big, beautiful life in recovery can transform our past pain, and loss, and even the wreckage, into a journey of meaning and purpose. John D.
Rockefeller, the quintessential entrepreneur, once said, "I've always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity." I believe that what recovery has done for me and millions of others:
"Come one, come all. It's spectacular! Buy now! This snazzy little opportunity—making gizmo that I like to call Recovery can not only take any disaster, but it can take your disaster, and Voila‘! Here's the life you always wanted, the life you never knew possible, and never knew you could have! Step right up. You sir, drugs, alcohol, abuse, co—dependency? I got just what you need right here."
Blessedly, recovery is now and will for always be free, and never needs a marketing scheme, but "lead by example" and maybe a little old—fashioned word—of—mouth.
Corey John Richardson
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