How to be a Recovering Girl in an Unrecovered World

How to be a Recovering Girl in an Unrecovered World


How to be a Recovering Girl in the Real WorldOne of the biggest challenges I face today is being a recovering girl in an unrecovered world. I’m not trying to sound superior, but the fact is we live in a really fucked up world. There are a lot of assholes and trying to stay connected to a Higher Power and live spiritually can be a challenge in today’s society. Or at least it is for this recovering alcoholic.

I’ve been sober for four years this month. My first year of recovery I pretty much avoided the outside world. I stayed around people that were safe which included my family and a handful of friends. It was a year of weeding toxic people out of my life. If you brought negativity or drama to my life I was quick to break ties with you. I ended friendships and relationships that were unhealthy. I even quit my job because I couldn’t handle dealing with entitled brides whose biggest dilemma was deciding between white or ivory linens; blush or bashful bridesmaid dresses. Call me selfish. Call me judgmental. I had to be to stay sober.

Year two I dove deep into the 12 steps and really grasped onto the whole “fellowship” thing. I was going to at least a one meeting a day, sometimes two. I found my clique of friends that I’d meet for meetings and go to lunch and dinner with. We’d host sober pool parties and holiday gatherings. I’d leave my own family dinners to get to a meeting on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t until year two that I started working the steps and got a “real” sponsor. You know—someone I actually called and took direction from. The 12 Step Promises started coming true for me. I knew a new freedom and a new happiness. I did not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. I comprehended the word serenity and I knew peace. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity disappeared. My whole attitude and outlook on life changed. Self-seeking slipped away and I saw where my experience could benefit others.

I continued doing my best at practicing these principles in all of my affairs. Then something happened in my third year of sobriety and applying the 12 steps in my daily life became more of a challenge. I realized that I wasn’t staying sober in the real world. I made this sweet little safe life for myself comprised mostly of people from AA. I soon learned I wasn’t actually “living” and I wasn’t quite as peaceful and serene as I thought. It’s pretty easy to practice patience and tolerance and do everything in love when you are around people doing the same, but what about when you step outside the rooms of recovery? Well, for me it was a huge reality check. Here I was thinking I was one of the most accepting and grace giving souls around, but it was all conditional and I didn’t even know it. I gave grace to people who gave me grace. I was honest with honest people. I could practice faith where there was no fear. And I was willing to forgive people who were forgiving of me. I was fooling myself. I had genuinely been practicing all of these things but they were with people living along the same spiritual plain as me.

Year four has been a year of self-awareness and growth. I live more outside the rooms than inside. I attend meetings regularly, but I have found a balance and I don’t hide out in meetings anymore. I deal with assholes daily—something I used to avoid at all costs. And I have really seen my character defects shine since falling in love and committing to a relationship. Year four has made me completely aware of just how human I am, flaws and all.

There are days that I could win a gold medal for spiritual fitness. And some days I wouldn’t make the qualifying round. How’s that for acceptance? Some days love, patience and tolerance come easy for me and some days I have dig deep to find them. I guess the good news is that today I have a program of recovery. Sure, life would be a lot easier if I could live on a commune with like-minded individuals—but who’s that really helping? It’s the people that have hate, ignorance and intolerance in their heart that need love, patience and acceptance. That’s where the action begins and you find out just how spiritually fit you really are.



  1. Emily Martin on

    I don’t get it. I’ve been sober for a few years and I only have one sober friend. Everyone else that I know is supportive of me being sober, if they notice or care at all actually (I don’t mean that I think people don’t care about me, the truth is people care about themselves and their immediate needs more than or before they are concerned with others). I mean I haven’t met anyone that is opposed to me being sober anyway.

    See, the thing is, the world doesn’t revolve around me and I never thought it did. I just don’t understand how I read and listen to so many people in recovery who can’t grasp that concept. For whatever reason they all need to be handled with kid gloves or they get their feelings hurt so easily by the most ridiculous things. Really, you had to quit your job to save your sobriety because a co-worker was happily planning her wedding? Granted, brides can be a huge pita, but it couldn’t possibly drive you to drink. That is ridiculous. How did you manage to dress yourself in the morning without doing shots because the mate to your sock went missing in the dryer. I mean this is all too common. I constantly hear stories about people getting sober and not being able to cope in the real world and most have to quit their jobs. WHAT! Just seriously, WHAT!!!???

    I have a stressful job, where I work with dumb people, geniuses and assholes. NEVER once has it crossed my mind that quitting my job is any sort of option in life. Ever. I have bills to pay and responsibilities. Plus, I like my job and my life. Even the entitled millennials that I work with who don’t stay late and play on their phones all day are tolerable. Because not having an income is simply not an option.

    I just don’t understand how one can operate in such a sheltered place. I’m not trying to be mean, it is just that this has been a common theme that I have been hearing lately from those in recovery and I honestly cannot comprehend it.

    As grown adults why can’t people be actual adults. Not hide and be scared. I’m glad that you had this realization and you are moving forward in reality. I will still never understand this struggle though. I decided to stop drinking alcohol. The end. Or the beginning, the way I see it.

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  3. Thank you for this honest post. I am struggling with my own sobriety right now….for multiple reasons and my character defects are making it so difficult for me to find my serenity and peace. This really spoke to me and gave me hope that if I keep pushing on that these things will come

  4. Thanks for the honest read. I didn’t see this as women only, please correct me if I’m wrong. I can’t find a place to write this am and I like your stuff generally. I like this site.

    Point of interest, I lived in a commune sober and eventually found something wrong with just about all of it. Like, if I’m in Jesus’s image (white guy w/blue eyes and 80’s mullet with optional beaded rat tail braid ) then why doesn’t everybody worship me too?

    The good news is? The more I am living sober the more I am exposed to my selfishness and fear. That’s the good news?? People come and go, I screw up, I do my best to clean up my mess. Sure I dealt with my past in that 4th Step but like it says in that movie Magnolia? You may be done with the past but the past isn’t done with you. Seems my alcoholic history left untreated or maintained will repeat itself. Maybe not to the extremes it has but bad enough to throw me to the floor over situations I should be able to walk calmly through unaffected. I believe this is referred to as self will run riot. The next line being (though he usually doesn’t think so).

    These past few days I’ve been really pissy. Agitated. Finally I see it as nothing more than selfishness and self pity. Oh I pray for direction in the morning but then go my merry pissy way retaliating first (seemingly against myself) and dealing with the carnage later with blame. It’s everyone else’s fault. . I see nothing good anywhere.

    The morning commute is like a Dukes of Hazard episode. Work doesn’t pay me enough even though I’m the highest paid there. What’s next? voices? they’re talking about me? It’s a conspiracy? Am I that far gone where I can’t have two friends at once for fear of losing control of each? One will like the other over me? Holy Christ on a clamroll.

    Everything around my property’s is a endless chore, fix this, pay for that, an endless stream of unresolved issues and responsibilities. The last straw was I have 3 motorcycles and they’re all freaken broken! I have no time to fix one because well this morning ( my big day off) I have to first go and mow about 4 acres, that’s a few hours. Then fix the boat so tomorrow can be a outer beach day for my (common sense challenged) run it till it makes weird noises and breaks family..

    My partner just started this diet where instead of happily filling the kitchen skipping up and down the isles at Market Basket bumping into shamefully familiar Walmart faces, I now must spend my weeks pay at Whole Foods where by the way, the parking spaces are smaller..You know, Prius’s Versa’s Smart cars, the occasional old Camry with a (my other car is a broom) sticker maybe coexist or celebrate diversity rainbow… I’m a sweaty dirty man with a big scary truck. I get it, I’ll park on the street.

    Anyway, Gluten free no bleached flour, no fructose, no yeast, no hormones, dairy, sugar, salt. Then of course green drinks and fasting on bone marrow that’s been stinking up the kitchen in the crock pot for 12 hours. Yumbo! Food generally suited for the boy in the bubble. Oh yeah, the noise that super Ninja smoothie maker makes (the cat is traumatized and gone for the day) is no different than the kid down the street running his unregistered uninsured scooter with no muffler by my house 10 times a day…See? I’m an old cranky pisspot.. I’ve become Mr Wilson,(the Dennis the menace one). I am a pathetic winy mess of self pity. A 30 year sober nasty sarcastic ass. I find something wrong with everything around me and also other stuff floating around my mind for good measure. I am so extremely self centered I throw my opinion to the forefront of every thought. Wagons are circled, I am unteachable, you can’t tell me anything.

    DAMN! it’s fear! I’m full of fear! So get rid of the fear right? And I’ll feel better? Yeah! So now what? wish it away? dream it away? distraction? How about buy myself something. No, that’s probably why I have three motorcycles to begin with. No, the problem here is I’m really treating myself like crap. I hate myself. I don’t care enough about myself to even care. I’m more concerned with others nomatter who they are than I am with myself. I look to control them for my self esteem I can’t generate myself for myself.. Cripes! I’m back to being the emotional vampire just without the booze.

    OK, I’m on this. Sure life can deal some pretty bad hands but it’s up to me how I respond, how I think and act. Yes, I get worn down. Caregiver for someone with dementia, that alone I should be taking extra care of myself but haven’t. That can suck the life out of the biggest well intentioned heart. A commute in Cape Cod summer traffic? This isn’t new to me, I know if I left an hour earlier in the morning it would be a breeze. Another thing, the money.. I should be grateful for what I get at my age. I’m in a young mans trade and well, I’m no kid. And look at all I have, the comforts of life everywhere really. For someone like me who graduated from reform school as a juvenile and hitched across country alone at 15? Most like myself are already dead.

    I’ll go to a meeting tonight, (if I can remember where they are) maybe find someone who needs help that I can offer. Someone who speaks and understands fluent crazy. Find someone who wants to live but isn’t in the system already. An alcoholic, a freaken hopeless Alcoholic. Yup, I feel better already. I have been taking and not giving. I can take until everything is gone and want more. Suck the emotional security out of a room. No, not today. I can see myself finally after three days of selfish delusion. I’m Alcoholic, I got off the spiritual path suggested in the 12 Steps. Today, right now? I am willing to get back on and walk today with a man who suffers. Giving what I can, giving all that I have, I’ll want for nothing. Same old program, 4 years or 34 years. It’s still one day at a time for me. As fast as I can fall into myself it’s just as fast to climb out. I have that on thing I seem to take for granted, willingness.

    I feel the willingness right now. I nolonger hate myself? Weird. It still amazes me how I can take such a dive. I guess that’s why they say my recovery should continue for my lifetime. Sometimes life itself can set the terms. I must be prepared for that. Like it or not it can’t just always be about me. I am willing to participate today. I really would just like to be a part of it all. Whatever that is I’m fine with.

    Alright..I’ve hijacked this thread long enough, time to go mow the lawn with my new tractor. Oh yeah! I got a new tractor and it’s nice, big improvement.. I’m the lucky one. A boat on the Westport river? I should slap myself for complaining. I have more than I could want, certainly more than I deserve.. I’ll gladly fix the boat today so others can enjoy it.

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Allison Hudson shares about her struggles with alcoholism and life in recovery on her blog, It’s a Lush Life, and is a featured blogger on The Huffington Post. She is the founder of Will’s Place, a recovery based sober living facility created in memory of her brother, who died from a drug overdose in 2012.