In recovery, the feeling of freedom
arrives like a spiritual awakening.
Our country became a free nation, under our own government separate from the UK’s monarchy rule, on July 4, 1776. There is no gray area here; we became a free nation.
The holiday got me thinking about freedom, particularly how it relates to our Humble Warrior Women community.
We humans all have an inherent need and desire for freedom.
As American citizens responding to the global pandemic, we’re using the word “freedom” a lot more these past four months:
- freedom to not wear a mask,
- freedom to not self-quarantine,
- freedom to work from home or not,
- freedom to protest,
- freedom to post on social media sites without getting blocked or having one’s account removed entirely,
- freedom of journalism without censorship,
- and on and on.
I’m not going to analyze or solve these issues, but, needless to say, there seems to be some gray area here.
In contrast, for those of us in recovery, there is no gray area when it comes to experiencing our freedom in recovery. Freedom is a crucial word in recovery, filled with inner peace and incredible opportunity for limitless possibilities.
We Forfeited Our Freedom When We Drank
Let’s consider the definition of freedom. According to a few online sources, I’ve synthesized it as the following:
The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance, restraint, confinement, or influence.
In active addiction, we have no freedom because our entire motivation for living is dictated by alcohol. We are in essence hindered, restrained, and confined under the total influence of alcohol.
This imprisonment is what makes addiction so excruciating. Step 1 of many recovery groups led by AA states: “We are powerless over alcohol.” Yes, that’s 100% correct.
During active addiction we readily give up our power, which leads to:
- the loss of control (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and, likely, financially)
- massive negative consequences that worsen over time.
- a downward spiral of helplessness and sickness in all areas of our lives
Alcohol use disorder is total self-imposed imprisonment and darkness. We end up completely blind to a way out because we cannot visualize a life without alcohol.
Radical Freedom through Recovery
There is an enlightened pathway to freedom awaiting those of us who step into sobriety with total acceptance of our disease and surrender to its power. Then, almost seamlessly, we begin to recognize our newfound freedom.
It’s nearly magical.
And, as a woman who overcame significant active alcohol addiction, I can tell you this: that feeling of freedom felt like a spiritual awakening that I didn’t even see coming.
As The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says about our early sobriety, “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”
To elucidate, as our recovery grows, our perception of what is achievable with our freedom grows and expands dramatically.
I’m going to say this again, because this might be the most important point: It’s our perception of this newfound freedom.
What does being sober really mean? What is freedom from alcohol really giving us? It’s a change in perception of what we can do with our lives. Our lives are not over. They’re really just beginning. When we’re in recovery, this newfound freedom expands dramatically.
And because of our ever-refining awareness of our freedoms, we begin to experience and exercise more freedoms moment to moment.
For me, initially, I felt freedom when I could make a grocery run without also robotically going into the liquor store—dashing in and out so that hopefully nobody would see me, afraid that if they saw me, they would then say to my husband or children, “Oh, I saw your wife (or your mother) in the liquor store.” The panic. I used to do that.
And my freedoms grew from there, when I could finally begin making plans after five o’clock because I knew that I could actually keep the plans instead of inevitably having a blood-alcohol level too high for driving and consequently being stuck at home, sad and isolated. Emptiness. Darkness.
As our recovery grows, our perceptions of what is achievable
with our freedom grows and expands dramatically.
And then my freedoms grew even more to things like traveling alone to India, where I knew no one (something I would have done in my 20s but not in my active addictive years).
And it didn’t stop there either! My freedom continued to grow to dream big, such as reactivating my nursing license in Florida, pursuing my coaching recovery career to help other women in early sobriety transform their lives, and studying to become a bioenergetic health practitioner.
And, remarkably, my freedom grew even MORE! I went on to launch Humble Warrior Women, combining all areas of my expertise with my passion for helping women in recovery heal and transform all aspects of themselves and their lives.
So, if this Fourth of July triggered a yearning of years ago when perhaps you could have a few drinks without serious repercussions, I invite you to focus on the true freedoms of your situation. This is a good practice on any holiday, and, truly, every single day.
Think about all your freedoms:
- Freedom to drive anywhere at anytime
- Freedom from telling lies
- Freedom to use your money on important, meaningful, or necessary things
And think about all you can do or have done with your freedoms:
- Freeing your mind from gripping thoughts and emotions leading to depression, hopelessness, and anxiety
- Freeing your heart to love yourself and another
- Freeing your time to be the best version of yourself
- Freeing your body to heal
What can you add?
What are your freedoms?
Thinking about your freedoms is a creative way to inspire yourself and strengthen your recovery. I invite you to journal about this and explore how you can exercise more freedoms in this exciting new chapter of your life.
Stay strong and free, Humble Warrior Women.