Comfortable in your skin?

October 6, 2015

Michael MorseAll while I was a first responder, even though I was a go-to guy, both on the scene and after hours, I never saw my own value. I held myself up to a fabricated ideal. Having set myself up with these jaundice-colored glasses, I quickly saw myself fall very short of my ideals. In addition to blaming and shaming myself for falling short, I got very busy trying to pretend to be the person of my ideal. Soon my life was a straight jacket of pretense, layers of it. I hated both the pretense and the fear of finding out what might remain if the pretense were stripped away. These days, I like my “real life.” And that was one of the surprise benefits of recovery from alcoholism. 

The goal of recovery is in large part finding how to be comfortable in your own skin. Contented sobriety brings with it rewards that are not clear to a person still in the throes of their addiction. They cannot see the benefits that await them. They have yet to experience the feeling of power and control that exists inside of them. Choosing not to drink when everybody else is drinking becomes easier —as time progresses others come to expect abstinence from you, and the need to fit in by drinking completely disappears.

Having the ability to experience life at all levels is one of the gifts that recovery brings. A life beyond your wildest dreams awaits the person whose addictions have kept them from enjoying it to the fullest. A healthy family life, an active social calendar with people both outside “the job”and among those you work with is obtainable. Opportunity awaits: give yourself the chance to do exactly what you want, without the bondage of your agreement to substances. These are the same substances that keep you from living your life.

I thought that my own wildest dreams included money, lavish vacations in tropical places, and a decadent lifestyle. Turns out, those weren’t my dreams at all; those were dreams that tagged along with the addictive substances I ingested. My wildest dreams are not that wild at all. I have found peace, serenity and optimism, and those things brought the best gift of all, simply being myself in every situation I find myself in.

American Addiction Centers has a special response team of first responders for first responders. Available 24/7 to any responder who calls 1.888.731.FIRE (3473), the team’s goal is to “share the load” of addiction and its related challenges, such as PTSD. Sponsored by the National Volunteer Fire Council, it’s one of the first programs of its kind. The Share the Load response team can help responders struggling with addiction to take action towards recovery and have a shot at living their wildest dreams.

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