When told that the theme for the first edition of Recovery Illustrated Magazine was “Adventure” my first thought was “How fitting!” Before I get started on my own adventurous tales, I would like to pause to first congratulate Karen VanDenBerg and Andrew Martin on their new “Adventure”. It is exciting to be a contributing author in the very first edition, of many more to come, of this amazing magazine. Thank you both for all that you do for the recovering community.
Now let’s get started on those tales of adventure that I promised I would tell. There are countless pre-recovery tales that I could entertain a stadium with. The time I was beaten and left for dead in the middle of Alaska’s Alcan Highway makes for a good story; there were trips to jail, shootings with a babe in my arms, domestic violence episodes, and trips to the mental ward. None of them are your typical PTA mom stories. None of them are boring anecdotes. However, I can honestly say they pale in comparison to the adventure I call my bridge to recovery.
Sitting in front of my computer writing about adventure makes me laugh. Here I am, 60 years old, and my big adventure today was hiking the Claremont Wilderness Trail. Today there are no chaotic episodes, no police banging on the door, and certainly no suicidal attempts landing me in a mental ward. Believe it or not, the real adventure came in my life when I had to cross the bridge from chaos to serenity. When a person is living in true chaos, it is called survival; it doesn’t feel like an adventure while you are enduring it. When a person is grounded in real recovery it is simply known as bliss.
I often say that the reason I am so grounded in my recovery is because I do not have another early recovery in me. By far the most difficult adventure that I ever embarked upon was when I took that first step onto the path of recovery. My addiction took me to a place where I was literally prepared to die for it. Without question, if I had been told I would die shooting up one dose of dope, I wouldn’t have thought twice about administering the deadly injection; contra to where the addiction takes a person, the path to recovery requires a commitment to live. A person has to be willing to fight for their life. They must be willing stop dying and start living, stop hating and start loving, and stop resenting and start being grateful. In order to transgress these, a person
must be willing to embark on the adventure of their life.
In early recovery I was filled with hate, remorse, shame, and resentments. I mean filled! I was filled with ninety-eight percent terror, and maybe two percent surrender. The two percent surrender
was a direct result of needing to get enough to save my children. If I didn’t make some changes in my life, my children were going to grow up in foster care. So, my painful adventure began. One of the first things I was told was that recovery was a program of gratitude—well, that left me pretty well screwed.
My recovery adventure began while detoxing on the floor of my jail cell; I had two broken ribs and a top bunk, so I had to stay on the floor near the cold steel toilet. By the way, I do not suggest anyone detox in county jail—what an adventure that was! However, like many, I had a spiritual awakening while detoxing. I think it was brought on by a combination of alcohol and drug withdrawal, but mind you, it was a true spiritual experience for me. I suddenly knew that I couldn’t give up, and I was going to have to live, and that is where, by the Grace of God, my adventurous bridge to recovery began.
Dr. Judy Redman has dedicated much of her personal and professional life to the betterment of the recovering community. She began her career as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in 2000 and is currently the Dean of Alcohol and Drug Counseling Studies for InterCoast Colleges. www.intercoast.edu
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