By: Jennifer Chadukiewicz – EDRC Program Manager
I promise I won’t use the P word (pandemic) but I will talk about the other P word…Pathways!
All of us around the world share some common experiences, especially as of late. Most of us quickly got up to speed with working from home; we adapted our routines of shopping, cooking, and eating to be a little more frugal, less wasteful. Some of us have finally tapped into that “home workout routine” after resisting it for years; we broke out that two year old bag of potting soil and started seedlings for a summer vegetable garden. We have exhausted the streaming videos of bubble gum for the brain and, wanting a little more stimulation, we dusted off the books and cracked a binding for the first time in…years? Surely, we have all gone through our own process to adapt, adjust, and accommodate our daily life.
But have we? Have I? In my work with CCAR, the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, one of our Foundational Principles is “There are Multiple Pathways of Recovery”. We’ve even convene a wonderful, week-long Conference dedicated to exploring and experiencing those pathways. I can say without a doubt that I believe, support, and promote Multiple Pathways of Recovery. But was I willing to practice them? I thought so, but when it came to putting my money where my mouth was it was a whole different game! I found myself in two situations which highlighted this for me:
I came to recovery through the doors of the Narcotics Anonymous twelve step program in June of 1988 and fell into a robust and loving network of recovering people who are still the core of my network today. I have stayed there for the last 31 years. A blessing for sure. I am so grateful. And thankfully our local region of NA in Connecticut has some young whizzbang members that got the majority of our meetings on the Zoom platform within 7 days of our local restrictions to gatherings of 5 or more individuals. It was great! A rush of energy and enthusiasm– I had so many needs met: connection, contribution, community, love, support, encouragement…the list goes on. But it turns out, it was not enough…for me. I was experiencing the well-known phenomenon of “restless, irritable, and discontent”. I was very judgmental and sharp-tongued to those I love. I found myself not even keeping up with my own daily meditation practice! Yikes!
Second, our CCAR work (especially now) involves an enormous amount of outreach, in an attempt to connect with every person we have ever worked with. Meeting people “where they are at” means I and all the employees at CCAR have to have experience and confidence navigating how to get into a virtual Celebrate Recovery Meeting, for instance. We must be confident enough in our ability to utilize these resources to support someone downloading an app, setting up a profile, and maybe even meeting them in the “room’ the first time. Let me stress confidence here, folks. Meaning, I have been there, I know the feeling of being on new ground, I have experienced that before, I was nervous the first time I shared in a virtual meeting too, I didn’t know how to unmute myself either! Sound familiar? It’s the language of connection, support, encouragement, identification, and “meeting the situation where it’s at”. It’s what we do at CCAR. But I wasn’t doing it!
These two situations: Not feeling enough support in my own personal pathway of recovery to be “happy, joyous, and free”, and, needing to confidently support others in their own specific pathway, has allowed me the opportunity to “stretch” as Phil Valentine, our Executive Director is known to encourage. I had to get to a whole new level of stretch to remain positive and spiritual and to support myself and my family, my friends, colleagues, and communities.
Here’s some multiple pathway activities I have tried myself in the last few weeks: I began reading recovery literature I had not read in over 30 years, I attended virtual meetings of AA, NA, Al-Anon, and Wellbriety, I explored online holistic healing modalities; namely sound healing, and a guided yoga nidra. I attended one of Phoenix Sports rise|recover|live sober workouts online, I attended a virtual All Recovery Meeting, I attended a SMART recovery meeting, and more. All of these activities have lit my fire for recovery again – I feel joy, I feel connected, I feel purpose!
I know my Creator always gives me what I need. When I came to traditional recovery 30+ years ago I was open-minded and willing enough to believe that what I saw others doing worked for them, and could and would work for me…if I sought it. So, I will do that again and I am grateful I can. I hope you are willing to go to any lengths for your recovery, too.