By: Alison Smela
“The ripple effect. You throw a pebble into the water and it creates ripples. Your action was to throw the pebble—the representation of your choice. That’s all that you can control.
There’s a moment when I hear someone share something so powerful, I’m reminded that “There but for the Grace of God go I.”
Within the last few weeks, that happened not once, but twice.
After returning from a trip, I reconnected with a long-time friend. The conversation drifted to why we must put ourselves first if we want to be of service to others. She knows my status as a woman who overcame a life-threatening addiction to alcohol.
She is well aware that now I dedicate myself to the community of recovery and do what I can to help others as we bravely face the demons of addiction.
What I never knew was why she, more than most, understands why that matters.
With sparkling eyes and a bright smile, she proudly shared her brother just celebrated a recovery milestone. Until then, I was not aware that he was on that path. Doesn’t matter. What drew me in was the pure joy she radiated.
However, I was not prepared for what she’d say next.
That Was Then…
This milestone achievement for her brother symbolized for her that the experience they shared years ago can’t keep him lost in the haze of addiction.
The car accident was the day after Christmas. Their parents sat comfortably in the front seat as she, aged 12, and he, aged 14, remained warm and buckled in the back. No one saw the other car coming. She doesn’t remember the impact.
The other driver was drunk.
She and her brother survived. Their parents did not. In an instant, they were orphans.
As I watched her sparkled eyes dim, I couldn’t stop the thought that slammed into me with whirlwind force. Had I not embraced the principles and suggested actions of the 12-Steps, I could have caused that kind of pain. A cold chill ran through my veins as I considered the countless times when I convinced myself that the sum total of what I drank wouldn’t hinder my ability to drive.
I offered her a hug that seemed to settle us both.
This is Now…
Then, only a few days later, a news story erupted about a 16-year old girl who died due to the fierce impact of a car that struck her at 11am in front of her school. She crossed the street legally. The person behind the wheel drove illegally due to the drugs and alcohol later found in his system.
At some point that morning, for reasons we may never know, that driver convinced himself that a life with unhealthy substances made more sense than one without. Now he faces years without the freedom to make any decision at all.
For most, these are shocking stories. Yet for those of us who walk the talk of recovery, the shock stems from a different perspective.
We shudder at the thought we could have caused any of these fatal accidents when our lives revolved around untreated addictive behaviors.
The slow and steady process for foundational change with sustainable growth is what recovery is all about. I worked hard to uncover long-held fictional stories I told myself, discover the truth about why I used unhealthy behaviors to evade emotions and recover from the woman I was to become the woman I am today.
Simply put, if I keep doing what I’ve done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve got, regardless of the result.
Due to these many years of self-discovery, I now can make better choices and not experience the devastating knowledge that I acted under the influence, which resulted in harm to myself or others. For that, I remain grateful.
Gratitude for “Could Have Been Me” Moments
What happens when a tragic story rings a silent bell? Do you shudder with relief that didn’t happen to you (or because of you), or do you disregard the connection?
Take a moment to breathe. What if, instead of dismissing the situation you considered what you can do, right now, that will assure a similar story doesn’t include your name today or in the future?
Even if years distance you from unhealthy behavior, what can you do, right now, to strengthen your commitment to what keeps your mind, body, and spirit in good health?
Find a way to keep an attitude of gratitude as a reminder that if you don’t keep doing what you’ve done, you won’t keep getting what you’ve got.
Bio: Alison Smela
Alison is a writer, speaker, and addiction recovery and health advocate. Through her blog, Alison’s Insights, she shares her experience overcoming alcoholism and a life-threatening eating disorder in midlife and how she now faces every day.
She is a Social media Influencer for BlogHer.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
From Addict 2 Advocate is a place to share your stories of addiction, hope, and reclaiming your life.
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