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Letting Go
Written by Tyler Hall

No longer carrying the weight of my past

When I started my recovery journey in 2019, I had no idea the freedoms I would be able to enjoy today. While at times the process has been extremely difficult, it always proves to be extremely rewarding. Through the recovery process of the 12 Steps, I’ve been able to enjoy freedom from the one thing that seemed to always haunt me, and that is my past.

My journey began much like many others, I became abstinent from the chemicals that plagued my existence for so many years, I was going to meetings regularly, and gathering as many names and phone numbers as I could. I remember telling myself I had to leave everything behind in order to move forward.

Two men I met and became very close with early on kept asking me the same thing every time I’d see them at meetings, “Did you get a sponsor yet?” It seemed like just another one of the many slogans and sayings that came with recovery, but until I made the decision to do so, I felt like I was treading water.

I found a sponsor that I could relate to and identify with, and he started giving me reading and writing assignments out of one of the books the program had to offer.

All of a sudden, I started to feel differently. All of the writing I was doing was not only helping me lead a drug-free life, but it was also helping me understand myself.

It was like a golden key to unlocking those thoughts and feelings inside my head I could never comprehend, let alone know what to do with.

I started to take a look at the problems in my life, all those messy times, traumas, and memories, things from my childhood to the present, things that had kept me sick for so many years, and I started to see them differently.

As each memory presented itself, and I wrote out the answers to the questions on the page in front of me, I was starting to get rid of those burdens and feelings I had carried around for so long, and began to gain a lot of perspective and knowledge surrounding my behaviors.

I took an inventory of my past, the people in it, the things that they had done to hurt me, and the things that I had done to hurt them. It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but much more difficult to carry out.

Some nights I would blissfully write ten pages, while on others I could barely finish a sentence, but I never stopped.

I was never going back, I was never giving in, or giving up. After each assignment was finished, I’d call my sponsor, or we’d meet up for coffee, and go over what I had written, because he was my guide, my seasoned-veteran of the program that was meant to help me through this process, much like he had and continued to go through his own.

While working through the steps and gaining freedom from my past, I was also understanding and developing a relationship with something for my present and my future, not only with my brothers and sisters in the program, and my sponsor, but with a power greater than myself.

Merriam-Webster defines a higher-power as: a spirit or being that has great power, strength and knowledge that can affect nature and the lives of people. For me that power was God. It showed me that there was a greater purpose to everything, that life was a pre-written script, and all I had to do was play my part.

As I persisted on in my step work and the scars from my past began to heal I started to take a look at the present—the things I could do in my everyday life—to keep me from slipping back into old patterns and acting out on
old behavior.

I had to take a daily inventory to make sure those things weren’t rearing their ugly head, as I continued to live this new life I built for myself.

I started to be able to catch things, and to see behaviors and change their course, which in turn showed me how to deal with everyday struggles.

I can’t tell you the day, the week, or the month, but one day life just wasn’t so hard.

The unmanageable highs and lows, pressures and struggles, things that I seemed irrationally incapable of in the beginning, were now happening so freely, and nearly effortlessly.

I know that the ability to live my life, on its own terms, with a clear-mind, and to enjoy it, is based purely on all those nights putting pen to paper in my step work.

My journey through the 12 Steps has taught me countless lessons, about life, about relationships, and about what it really means to be clean, but I think by far the most rewarding have been about surrender and self.

I’ve navigated the difficulties of divorce, family and medical struggles, while enjoying the blessings of birth, children, marriage, and my faith.

Each and every day I can experience it, and be present, because of not only freedom from addiction, but no longer having to carry the unimaginable weight of my past.

Recovery through the 12 Steps saved my life; it didn’t just save me from drugs and alcohol, it saved me from myself.

 

Tyler Hall

Tyler Hall

Tyler Hall, from Augusta, is a freelance writer in recovery and a member of the Journey editorial team.