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The Past Meets the Present in My Recovery


In recovery, we work hard to acknowledge our past, make peace with it, and move forward. Despite all of our efforts, there are times when our pasts will show up uninvited into our lives. This can be a very jarring experience, because it brings together two very different aspects of our lives: our lives in recovery and our lives in active addiction. We can choose to react to these situations rationally or emotionally; we can become nostalgic and romanticize the past or see it as a reminder of the lives we used to lead.

The lives we lead in active addiction are often sordid ones; filled with crime, self-hatred, and misery. Subsequently, the people we surround ourselves with are in the same place we are. In my own experience, the majority of my friends and acquaintances from when I was using were people who were as desperate and unhappy as I was. We were all involved with the same things, and the decisions that we made showed blatant disregard for laws, societal norms, our well-being, and the health and safety of others.

When I got sober and began to live a life of recovery, I had to come to a place of acceptance with my past. The things that I did in my addiction are things that I would not have thought myself capable of. But I did what I needed to for my next fix. I did what was needed in order to get by in the life I was living.

In recovery, I began to put a little distance between myself and that completely desolate place. I began to make friends who were also in recovery, many of whom had been to the same places I have been, and started to live life in a different way. I never forgot about my past or the people who were in it, mind you. Still, my past started to fade into memories instead of being at the front of my mind.

However, life has a funny way of reminding me of things. Just last night, an ex-flame of mine contacted me – nothing too crazy, just asking how I was doing. It sent me on a little bit of a trip, because we haven’t talked since I got out of inpatient treatment. We had a crazy relationship, filled with all of the aspects of addiction, defiance, and attraction. At first, I was nostalgic about our relationship and what I had left behind for a life of recovery. I missed the intensity of our relationship and the lives we were leading.

When I stepped back, I realized that this could be seen as a reminder of a place I don’t want to go back to. He was just released from jail yet again, lives a life of criminally careless choices, and cannot trust anybody. It is a sad existence, despite the adrenaline and apparent cockiness that characterized our group of friends.

When my past pops up into my present, I get to look at it with a little distance and a lot of support. I know that I have friends in recovery who want the best for me and are in a place to support my making healthy choices. Yes, I miss my old life occasionally, and I definitely miss my old friends. It’s just not worth going back to a place of desperation to befriend these people again. Too much has changed, I’ve grown too much, and life has gone on. The past will show up, and I can look at it, and remind myself how much better my present is than it could have ever been had I not made these changes.

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Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Life, Recovery · Tags: addict, Addiction, alcohol, drugs, emotions, hope, memories, past, past life, past vs. present, personal experience, present, Recovery, relationships, sober, sobriety, support is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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