By: Marilyn L. Davis

The Awe




Recovery: The Awe and A. W. E. marilyn l davis http://fromaddict2advocate.comRemembering the words of Purvi Raniga, “Life is magical. Being alive in this present moment is magic. Be in awe of this magic and you will understand how priceless this life is!!” I remember the first time I felt awe, that feeling of respect mixed with wonder. I had not seen anyone pick up a chip yet, and all I could say quietly was, “Wow.”

I knew that she had also come through this facility, so I tentatively went up to her after the meeting and asked her how she did it. 

The answer surprised me. She said, I became aware, willing and started exploring my self-defeating habits and changed them. Then she said the strangest thing, “Have you ever experienced awe?” 

While others in my group had talked about God’s moments, I think this was the first time I wondered about the coincidences in life. I laughed with genuine joy and said, “I experienced it when you picked up your chip.” 

Introduction to A.W.E. 

Although she was younger than me, I asked her for her phone number and asked if we could talk. She graciously gave me her number, and I started calling her every day. 

The first day we talked, she said she didn’t want to interfere with anything I learned in treatment but wanted to follow up on our A.W.E. conversation. 

I answered the questions and then asked what A.W.E. was. That’s when she said, “Didn’t you notice that I stressed awareness, willingness, and exploring in my questions? I had a good reason; those words are the A.W.E. of recovery.”

She then asked me if I realized that life and recovery are magical and to always be in awe of this priceless gift of recovery. 

Using A. W. E. in Recovery

That night in a group, I became aware that I tended to shut out one woman in our group when she spoke. She seemed overly confident and even argued with the counselor when he pointed out that this was her third trip to treatment. 

She immediately started defending herself, saying that this time was real and how dare he make judgments about her intentions to stay clean for the rest of her life. Several group members nodded in agreement with her, but I wondered whether she had said the same thing the other two times she was there. I tentatively raised my hand, got called on, and asked her about her previous commitments to recovery. 

Risky Business Asking Questions

Several heads swirled around and looked at me like I’d done something wrong, but the counselor said, “Marilyn has a point. What is different this time?” 

The woman went on about her family as her motivation. She was now on probation, and if she wasn’t successful, she was facing prison for a drug charge. After about five minutes of this, the counselor asked if those things weren’t in place before. She said, “Yes, they were, but it’s really different this time.”

She was leaving treatment in three days, and we all wished her good luck, and the group ended. I thought about my motivations making sure that I wasn’t just being rude to the woman, and I realized that I did want to know if the motivations were the same, how could an attitude or actions make the motivations real this time. 

Willing to Risk by Exploring

Then I explored how often I said something, believing it at the moment but not following through. One particular time came to mind. I’d managed to save about 1000 dollars from a cocaine sale the week before and promised my daughters we would go shopping for Christmas. They lived with their dad, and I didn’t see them often, so I made all these plans – lunch at an exclusive restaurant in DC, shopping in Georgetown, and desserts at another upscale place specializing in ooey-gooey cakes and confections. All of that sounded so good. The girls seemed excited, too. 

Two days before we were to go, I got a great deal on an ounce of cocaine. Thinking I could sell it before our shopping date, I bought it using most of my money. Then like a lot of best-laid plans, I used a bunch, didn’t sell as much, and with what cash I had left, I couldn’t even afford the restaurant, let alone shopping. 

I called the girls and lied; I told them I’d been robbed. Their dad asked if I filed a police report and, again, I had to lie, so I told him I did. Of course, I didn’t because there was no robbery, just their addicted mother using.  

A.W.E. Still Works

“Stay in awe of life. The little things are the big things. Awareness is a fundamental shift in personal identity and experiencing your world with joy.” ― Richie Norton

Awareness: There are three types of awareness.


It’s the ability to know ourselves. In recovery, we have to examine and explore our qualities to change the problematic ones and put more energy and effort into using the admirable qualities we have. To become more self-aware, ask yourself:

  1. What helps you be successful in your recovery? 
  2. What mistakes have you made in your recovery? 
  3. How do you share your experience, strength, and hope?
  4. Are you listening or talking more at meetings?

Social Awareness

Are you mindful of differences and respectful of them? Any meeting room has age, gender, socio-economic, religion, and occupations that differ from ours. Not paying attention because someone is different means you could be missing valuable lessons for your recovery. To check your social awareness, ask yourself:

  1. Who are you most comfortable with – people like you, or are you willing to explore other relationships?
  2. How do you interact with strangers? 
  3. When do you extend trust to people who have different backgrounds than you? 
  4. Are you listening to the message from people who aren’t like you? 

Organizational Awareness

12 Step groups are organizations by definition. So, how should you be aware?

  1. How do people interact within the organization? 
  2. Are there rules and guidelines that govern the group?
  3. Are there leaders, and are they elected?
  4. Do you participate in the organization or only attend meetings?
  5. Does this organization help you, and in what ways? 


When we are ready to do something, that’s willingness. So how much willingness do you have today? It’s also overcoming our fears of doing something new – like recovery vs. our addiction. 


Exploring is looking at something carefully to learn more about it. That holds true for looking at ourselves objectively and making changes to the shortcomings and character defects when we find them. 

Exploring is also taking suggestions from others to see if they might work for us. I’ve never met anyone who knowingly passed on incorrect information. Granted, what worked for them might not work for us, but rarely.

Stay in Awe and A. W. E.

Is it time you became aware, willing, and explored the benefits of A. W. E. in your recovery? 



Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.  

For editing services, contact her at 

How we say something is just as important as what we say. How you write about addiction and recovery will differ from mine. That’s okay because the more voices say, “Recovery works,” the more people we reach. 

Recovery: The Awe and A. W. E. marilyn l davis 

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