Feeling better…early recovery

I am telling my story of addiction but am focusing on my recovery because addicts know where they are/were and my telling of my addictions and losses, is less helpful, then focusing on recovering because that is still going on today after 22 years.

A little side-note, in church last Sunday, one of my friends came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to meet a family whose son just returned from California. I was told prior ‘he is dealing with addiction’. For those of us in recovery, we immediately become experts to our non-addict friends. I guess they feel we can relate and may offer some hope to the fellow addict. I selfishly never mind talking to anyone because  it helps my recovery because it keeps it ‘real’and current for me. I need to keep it fresh because I will become complacent. One of the reason’s I love the Mission is when I feel complacent I go and sit with the men who are in early recovery (less than 90 days clean) and it brings me right back to the insanity I felt while I was using and couldn’t stop. I asked him if he was ready and he mumbled. I wish I had more but it’s not a time for cool; it’s time to get real and if you aren’t ready then the time isn’t right.

That’s the saddest thing of all. I had to lose everything before I would admit I had a problem. That loss affected my family more than it affected me. I can live on peanut butter and tuna casserole for a long time alone, but what I put my family through was very sad. For me, I had to fight for recovery. Not using didn’t come natural… using came natural. I was happy to find out that as time passed the fight got different – not better, but I am able to manage and have developed a tool bag of actions and dos and don’ts that really help. Even today during high stress moments, I open the tool bag and grab a hug or a place that exists in my mind that is very calming. Someday I will tell you about my mountain top.

The key to my early recovery  was remembering that if I hadn’t used in the last hour then I was doing good. I would tell myself ‘Don’t be strong, strong is arrogant and arrogance is what helped get me here, be committed and do something for someone else and get out of my head. I loved chopping wood for other people – there is nothing like sweating to make you feel better and a side note is that you sleep better when you are physically tired. Sweat means sleep – I think that’s what the AA  means by “keeping it simple.” I never had anyone refuse to let me chop their wood. For me is was great because on this side is a stack of logs and on the side was nothing and few hours later on this side there was nothing and on this side this was a stack of chopped fire wood. The people would always try to give me money, but I would ask them for home cooked food – they choose. I would say “make me your specialty”.  I ate like a king. The wood chopping in the beginning was pretty bad. I had no stamina so after a few pieces I would have to sit but after a few weeks I got stronger and would at least be able to show something for an hour’s work.

Whether it’s choping wood, painting - just find somehting you like to do and that makes you sweat. The sweat is the important part. Also do something that doesn’t require many tools because they are hard to work in the beginning and you are probably poor and can’t afford anything anyways. Also make sure your effort is helping someone else because if your track record was like mine; helping others had not been a normal thing to do in the near past unless it was directly related to getting ‘more’.

Look forward to hearing from you…

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3 Responses to Feeling better…early recovery

  1. Andy says:

    Great stuff Stuart.
    AA is a gift from God. The Big Book is “inspired” in every literal sense of the word.
    I agree with you about sweating. Sweating is very cleansing; mental and physical poisons are naturally removed from our bodies and our spirit.
    Working with beginners is a great aid to continuing one’s recovery.
    Stay with it.

  2. Cheryl Kelley says:

    Mr. Harper, I never knew that you had an addictions in the past. I think that the fact that you are keeping it real and simple, is the very way God can use your testimony in helping others in addiction to see that there is a way out and that anyone can find themselves in addiction. Rich, poor, successful, lazy, cool, strange, well known or hardly known, many friends or no friends — addiction can grab onto all of us. I pray that those coming in and out of the shelters that the City Mission provides will give them hope that they all have that chance to find a way of breaking through the chains of addiction with the help of many staff members and even the Director that has been in that same place. We all have our breaking points and when we get to that point—if we want help then we must surrender to God and the leading of others, working hard and searching out those tools and answers that will be the keys to freedom. God is certainly number one in helping us in all things. Thanks for sharing your story and for being an encouragement to many. ~ C. Kelley

    • Stuart says:

      For many of us who have survived trauma we have to ask ourselves why were we saved when other struggle or die. The answer I got was to take my expereinces and pass them on so someone can maybe find a word , phrase or place to go and ask for help. There are so many people out there waiting to help; including our Lord Jesus Christ. All you have to do is ask.

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