What is “Recovery” anyway?

Recently, I had to travel out of state on short notice due to a death in my family. My parents were the executors of the estate of that family member, and they had to clear his house in a short window of time, to prep it for sale, plus assemble all his paperwork, arrange the funeral services, the plot, you name it. My parents are elderly, and my Dad has pretty bad health challenges right now, so when they called to ask me if I would fly out there and help them pack up the house, I said yes.

To make a long story stay on-point, I was only flying one way, because my parents were giving me an older truck to drive back home in. I had needed one for several years to get through the snow season, and now I would have one.

On my way back, I was in a motel for the night when I realized that “this was recovery.” Meaning: I showed up for my parents and I helped them. I was driving home, and even though I was by myself and no one would know if I drank or not, I did not drink. 

I know when I say “no one would know…” that is somewhat untruthful, because many times I have been “caught” – either in that I got so drunk, I passed out and forgot to check out of the motel the next day, or someone would call and they could hear it in my voice… so getting drunk while on a roadtrip back (even in the seemingly “safe and private” confines of a motel room all alone), is never truly without consequence).

Anyway back to my musing that “this was recovery” – sitting in the motel, not drinking by choice, having shown up for my parents and really truly helped them with all my best energy… kind of relaxing into the satisfaction of a week+ well-lived.

There were many times in the past, in my drinking career, that I was not there for my family. I seemed to have a penchant for “not showing up” on holidays like Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day… I would start a drinking binge about 2 days before, and by the time the event came, I was so out of it that I was passed out, or too in pain from withdrawal to attend the event. I botched many, many events.

So for me to show up for my family was definitely “recovery.” For me to answer the phone when they call is also recovery. For me to pay my bills on time, write people back emails, pay attention to appointments I’ve scheduled, or show up to music practices is all part of recovery too.

In the past, I used to loathe the word “recovery” and I still sort of do. I’ll tell you why. It has turned into an industry… or a buzz-word. I knew I could use that word to get people off my case if I had had another drinking episode (I could say something like “my sponsor says relapse is a part of recovery”). 

Or someone would use it in the sense of saying they had a disease and so they were never “recovered” but always in “recovery” (and that could be debatable because it wasn’t like a hard-scientific immutable fact, so it tended to rub me the wrong way). 

In any case, I just really didn’t like the word “recovery” much.

But once I stopped drinking, I realized that it was in the tiny little details of day-to-day life that the actual recovery process was taking hold. The simple things like bathing and paying bills, brushing hair, brushing teeth, not snapping at people, waking up without a headache or queasiness, not doing 6am runs to the grocery store to get emergency come-down beer, picking up the phone when family called, showing up to appointments, getting my projects done on time, exercising, eating healthy, taking care of myself, getting enough sleep…….. THAT was recovery! Not any of the other meanings it has had or the way others use the word (or the “industry” it became).

So that was my epiphany in the motel, on the road. Recovery on the road. 

Thanks for reading my musing. I’m in a rush tonight because I’m getting other deadlines done tonight for clients, and that’s part of recovery too! I just wanted to pop in and share some thoughts. Check out my teachable course “The Other Side of the Bottle” if you want to quit drinking… get sober… in a holistic way. It’s 40 days of mind, body, and spirit approaches to quitting drinking that I have learned over a lifetime challenge with alcohol abuse. I pour my heart into it. So if it would help you in your quest to quit drinking, I hope you check it out.

Much love,


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