Recovery matters: Long-term recovery takes changing again and again

Pat Kempfer, Staff Writer

Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If that is true, then desperation must be the father of reinvention, right?

As far back as I can remember I have been reinventing myself. I imagine that many people do. Human beings have a wonderful capacity for fantasy, forethought, and using their frontal lobe to imagine things yet unseen. The whole of life is about development and evolution, changing from one form of life to another.

In terms of persona, since the age of 12, I have been known as a skater, a pothead, a gangster, a punk, a junkie, a drunk, and a person in long-term recovery, as well as a writer, philosopher, poet and prick.  These are all simple interpretations of who I am based on what I do, but do they really encapsulate who I am as a whole? I think not.

As with everything, I begin with a single gesture, act, or movement when I start my day. And as many others I often add something new to the equation. If I don a hat as I walk out my door, it becomes me, and has a carried effect throughout my day. When I wrap a new scarf around my neck and drive around town, it has an impact on the many conversations that I will inevitably have with the people I meet. The same is true for any new perspective that I accept into my approach at life; along with any new attitude I apply to any given thought, subject, notion or theory.

The point I am trying to make is that I cannot expect success if I am unwilling to accommodate my surroundings. Likewise, my surroundings must, in some way, bend to also meet me at my current position. This, I believe, is how harmony is achieved.

Going back to reinvention, when, indeed, that is what this is ALL about.

I will tell you that I am constant flux, however, I do have a tendency to gravitate toward one extreme or another. This is a pattern that I wish to break free from, and, therefore, find myself changing once again.

Over the past 7 and some odd years, I have become well acquainted with resources and the passionate people available in the recovery community of Madison, Dane County, and throughout the United States, stretching as far as our surrounding oceans. And like the ocean, I have seen so many sink away in the vast darkness, due to their extreme black and white thinking.

Recently, I have decided to once again reinvent myself, this time in the way I determine my recovery. It is common for many in this particular area to commit to a lifelong dedication to abstinence from all drugs.

As for myself, after having quit heroin and all other illicit drugs, as well as giving up alcohol, I decided to stop smoking cigarettes, but not until my fourth year in recovery. Some don’t see tobacco as a problem, despite the devastating effects it often has on people.

Some rely heavily on caffeinated beverages to get them through the day, while others consume debt, food, and sexual desires.

Many people in long-term recovery depend upon psychotropic medications to maintain stability. Others use opioid alternatives, like methadone or buprenorphine, known better by the brand name, Suboxone. It is up to no one but the individual living in recovery what their recovery should look like.

So whether a person chooses to be completely abstinent from all drugs, or enjoys a drink on occasion, while maintaining boundaries concerning illicit drugs, recovery is about balance and living in harmony with your world. If that means using medication, fine; if it means meditating every morning and night, good, but make it your own.

After all, you have been given an opportunity to live – make the most of it.