It All Begins With Personal Agency
In my own recovery from addiction, I stopped counting days long ago. I know my sober date, the day I went into detox for the last time and entered treatment - February 19th, 2019. I take a moment on the 19th of every month. I do not count days, because my recovery treats every day as day zero. Every day is the opportunity to become the change I wish to see in myself, in my community, in the world. While attending a Catholic men’s breakfast recently, an even greater challenge was given to the room by the speaker - to become the institutions which we wish to see.
How exactly is one supposed to go about that? In my experience, it all begins with taking ownership of yourself and your actions. The ignoble, the ugly, the aberrant, as well as the hopeful, the good, the compassionate, the noble deeds large and small. To take ownership over oneself and one’s actions or lack of actions - to reclaim one’s sense of personal agency. To take responsibility, to make amends where appropriate, to constantly strive to do better than one did the day before. It’s an intimidating proposition to be sure, but it begins and ends with you. You are the origin and alleviation of all of your personal ills and issues.
This is not to say that you are going to do this alone, this is not another bootstrap diatribe or theory. Personal agency includes knowing where and when you need help, and having the humility to seek it out and ask for it - that’s the you part, and you are the one who has to keep showing up to receive that help. Beyond seeking help, it is up to you to build those connections, form those relationships, be an active participant in that brave new world that you are blessed to be a part of if you so desire.
One of the first things I say to all my clients is that there is no one coming to save you. I’m not going to save you. I can’t save you. There are no blanket solutions, no silver bullets, no end-all-be-all methodologies or systems or programs that are going to cure you. Be wary of those that claim otherwise, they are selling you a bill of goods. All that I or anyone can do is move the needle a bit, we can explore, we can hang on to what works and discard that which doesn’t, and that is going to be a different experience for every single soul.
For me, that has become a vocation of attempting to help others, to be that hand that is extended to pull others out of the mental and spiritual darkness that accompanies addiction. For the last two and a half years of three - I started with volunteering on a crisis line, which led to training and certification as a paraprofessional in the field of mental illness and chemical dependency. I worked as a tech in a men’s treatment facility, which led to working as a case manager in behavioral home health, and a case load of individuals as a Peer Recovery Specialist in a residential and intensive outpatient program. In an unusual turn of events, I’ve also become an endorsed Republican candidate for the Minnesota State Senate. A life I would have never imagined 5 years ago in the most intense of throes of my alcoholism - homeless, alone, drunk, and angry.
This is an aspect of that vocation. In the last two years of lockdown, much of the addiction specialist work I’ve done has been via telemedicine services. It is far from ideal. I did discover, however, the material that can be presented and the information conveyed through a digital format that does not require the in person interaction that much of this work requires. This aspect of that work is what I am calling “Every Day Is Day Zero - The Power Of Personal Agency”