For many, if not most of us in recovery, the initial days, weeks, and even months following treatment are spent just trying to survive and adjust to day-to-day life in sobriety. If we’re thinking about long-term goals, it’s usually as a means to give us the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and allow us to focus on something positive while we continue to work our program. As time goes on and we get more comfortable in recovery, we will inevitably start looking to fill the missing pieces of our lives; the pieces that exist beyond recovery and as part of what we view as a full life.
As we look to scratch our own version of happiness, it’s common to start comparing ourselves to others. This can be a dangerous and fruitless exercise. We see our friends getting married, having children, or moving further ahead in their careers and we may start to feel a bit envious. We think to ourselves: “That could have been me if I didn’t screw everything up.” Despite everything we learned in treatment and are continuing to learn in recovery, we still beat up on ourselves from time to time when we stop and consider how much time we spent abusing drugs or alcohol.
It’s at this point that we have to let go of our comparisons to others and remember two things: very few things are irreparable and everyone’s version of happiness is different. Even those who appear to have the most idyllic lives have their daily and ongoing struggles. As we work to define our own version of happiness, we must go about our lives with a certain amount of tunnel vision and really think about what we want. It does us no good to point to someone and say, “I want what they have.” Instead we should think about what makes us happy and start working towards building that life for ourselves.
It’s also important to remember that this is often a game of inches and we can’t expect to have our lives be perfect all at once. These things take time and before we start cursing ourselves for not making things happen fast enough, we have to give ourselves a break and remember the issues with which we’re coping on a daily basis. It’s not an excuse but it’s certainly an explanation. Happiness is something toward which we all must work in our own ways. The longer we spend lamenting the fact that we’re not happy, the less time we spend on trying to find happiness of our own.