Almost three weeks ago, on May 9, my brother and best friend, David, married the love of his life at a beautiful wedding at our church. David and my new sister-in-law, Carley, tied the knot in the afternoon and had an amazing reception in the evening, giving me one of the best memories of my life.
I, along with my oldest brother, Andy, was the Best Man and gave a speech at the reception, during which I couldn’t help but shed several tears. There I was, a recovering heroin addict, giving a speech as the Best Man of a wedding party for a brother that supported me through all of my addiction. It was an overwhelming experience in many ways. For one, I felt a little unworthy, because there was a period of seven years where I was anything but “best” and put a lot of hurt in my brother’s life. However, I was so proud of him and Carley, and even though I didn’t necessarily feel I deserved it, I was more than happy to be bestowed the honor.
But there was also a big part of me that was feeling very grateful. Grateful that I am now able to participate in weddings and feel important in my loved one’s lives. Two or three years ago, there’s no way I could have been there in body and spirit, but I was, and that is what recovery can do.
Recovery is a special thing. It adds a new layer to life and gives most people a whole new outlook. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost as if people who are in recovery sometimes enjoy life more than most people. I believe the reason for that is due to the fact that we have been through hell, we have witnessed and experienced the horrors and evil this world offers, and so we can appreciate even the simpler things a lot more.
It is really a miracle. I am still oftentimes amazed at how much I can enjoy life and take pride in being a law-abiding citizen that contributes to society and my community. Three years ago, I had no hope to even stay sober, let alone ENJOY sobriety. For so long I just knew that if I were ever able to get and stay clean that I would be a walking zombie. There was no such thing as pleasure or enjoyment without the influence of opiates on my brain.
Even in active addiction, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have been proud of my brother’s wedding. Active addiction doesn’t mean you can’t love people, but it does prevent the ability to fully participate in family events and to be able to take delight in them without drugs or booze. That’s the difference time staying clean and working on one’s self can make for an addict. Recovery can literally transform a homeless heroin addict into a sober, life functioning citizen that people like to be around.
I hope that anyone reading this blog can realize the power of recovery and God through my personal story. Recovery is not all flowers and sunshine; there are days where I want to crawl in a hole and hide. There are going to be battles and times that seem like it will be impossible to get through another hour without getting high, but trust me, the good times and gratefulness heavily outweigh the negatives.
Standing up in front of a large crowd, not able to hold back tears and looking at my brother and his new wife, I realized how beautiful life is. And once I handed the microphone back over and sat down, I then realized how far I’ve come and how amazing God truly is. Recovery, even for the most hardcore using addicts and alcoholics, can and does happen. And if and when it does happen, lives are changed, families are restored, and the ability to enjoy life kicks in. Recovery works.
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