By: Marilyn L. Davis


Renewal is Possible


“The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring; rather, they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid. And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.” ~Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring


Recovery and Tulips Don’t Bloom Without a Struggle



Tulips and people do not blossom without a struggle. Imagine; buried under layers of dirt as an insignificant, shriveled bulb. Yes, there was potential for this to blossom and bloom, but conditions would have to be correct. There had to be enough water and sunlight for the small, slender shoot to break through the outer casing.

About thirty years ago, when I was raking leaves. When I got down to bare earth, I saw a tiny green tulip shoot, barely breaking the surface of the ground. It gave me pause. I do not take lightly when the Universe demonstrates a lesson for me.

At that moment, I saw how tenacious the tulip sprout was, with a longing, if you will, to grow, to fight for survival and thrive. It is the same for us in recovery. Click To Tweet


We Have the Potential to Bloom in our Recovery


Aren’t we like the tulip in our recovery as well?

All people are born with the potential to be many things. We each have talents, strengths, limitations, and weaknesses. I’m like a lot of other people. For years, I heard about my potential. My father encouraged my minor talents from an early age, but as my addiction progressed, his comments about my potential seemed tinged with more sadness than encouragement. 

In the yard that day, I reflected on my addiction, the bulb stage of my development. Drugs and alcohol did not fuel me to grow, except for the character defects. I became a distorted version of all that I could be. 

Rather than a beautiful flower, I was an insidious blight, smothering the life out of all those I loved. I didn’t care about anyone or anything but using. 


Renewal and Rebirth


In 1988, my employer staged an intervention. When I was summoned to the president’s office, I was not initially alarmed. Then I saw three Deans and the college president, all holding 4 x 6 cards and looking embarrassed and uneasy; I knew why they gathered – to stage an intervention on me. 

Each of them, in turn, was looking at the other, probably for guidance and moral support. In my case, they did not have to read the cards. I wouldn’t make a good candidate for any intervention shows since I caved at the sight of them all lined up, ready to do battle with my addiction.

I was also unwilling to listen to their collective examples of my misconduct, drunken classroom exhibitions, or other variations of my behaviors. Bailey’s Irish Crème in an overly large coffee cup didn’t fool students. 

Within two minutes, I quietly said, “What do you want me to do”? I chose treatment and went that night. 


Treatment Works: Then and Now


I would encourage anyone struggling with addiction to ask about the many methods, philosophies, and models for treatment today. Thirty-three years ago, there were only limited options when I went to treatment. 

My medical problems from my Xanax use and daily alcohol consumption meant that I needed a three-week detox, followed by three extra weeks in intense treatment. I realize that without a safe, locked facility and caring, nurturing counselors, I would have relapsed and never achieved all that I have. 

Without treatment, I would have stayed trapped as that lifeless bulb, never realizing the potential to flower and spread the word that recovery works. 


Tulips Multiply


There is another interesting aspect of tulips. They reproduce other bulbs. The tulips bloomed in the yard, and the women blossomed at North House. To date, “tulip recovery’ has spread from Georgia to Alabama, up to Indiana and Michigan, over to Montana, and down to California, where graduates of North House now live. 


Continuing to Spread the Word 


The house closed in 2011, allowing me time to find the courage to write about the experiences of addiction and recovery. Writing at From Addict 2 Advocate and using recovery examples at Two Drops of Ink, I’ve spread the word about the benefits of writing and recovery. 

I am grateful for the blogs. While I may only reach one person, if these words let others see their potential, nourish it, and help them flourish, then I’ve been a good gardener.


Writing and recovery heals the heart 


Consider a guest post; when you’re ready to spread the word that ‘recovery works.



Bio: Marilyn L. Davis


Marilyn is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist who opened and ran an award-winning residential facility from 1990-2011 called North House.

She recently celebrated 33 years of abstinence-based recovery.

She is the author of Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System, editor-in-chief at her blog,, and recently published her memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate.

In 2008, Brenau University created the Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award, which honors individuals working in recovery and mental health. In 2010, Marilyn received the Liberty Bell award, given to non-judges and attorneys for contributions to the criminal justice system and communities.

But before the changes, she was a desperate woman on drugs, managing bands at night, and giving up her children.

A chance encounter with a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk showed her that healing would include meetings, Steps, and providing a house of healing for other women. This encounter helped her see that opening North House was her purpose.

She is also the editor-in-chief at, where she continues to encourage collaborative writing.

The site’s writers are poets, problem-solvers for writers and bloggers, who educate, entertain, and enchant us with the written word and represent countries, viewpoints, and opinions worldwide.

Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook can help you write your story of recovery. 


Submission guidelines for both blogs

I look forward to your submissions.












Was this post helpful?