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  • John Staley

Wrong Turns Right Decision


I was driving home with my girlfriend the other day and she was surprised by a turn I made, "Where are you going?"

"I have a shortcut." I made a few twists and turns down some seemingly unfamiliar streets and came out on the other end of the main road avoiding entirely the usual cluster of cars trapped at a particularly painful intersection.

"How did you find this?!" She was quite impressed.

"I just kept kept driving through the neighborhood until I found the way out."

I think recovery is like this sometimes. At first I didn't know there any way to avoid that traffic jam so I simply suffered through it every single time. I would drive right by that same seemingly unfamiliar neighborhood all the time and think, 'There must be a better way through.' One day dreading the bumper to bumper I decided to try and find it. My first turn quickly led me to me to a dead end. So I turned around and headed on my usual, miserable route. The next time I went up one street and worked my way a little further through but alas and alack another cul-de-sac.

Every time I would drive that way home I would make another attempt mentally crossing off all the paths that didn't work and remembering the ones that did. There was a lot of trial and error, backtracking and extra time added to the commute. Finally! There I was avoiding the frustration of gridlock every single time. I cannot imagine going any other way now.

My early recovery was fraught with missteps and dead ends. I had my fair share of mental blocks that took repeated tries to clear. Ideas like traffic lights that never changed became confident turns down familiar roads. Sometimes I forget my shortcut and find myself at the intersection of Fuck St. & You Know Better Ln. and I am reminded that I have a GPS to an easier way to get where I need to be. The tools to a better way of being and a better life.

That trial and error led to intuition and finally to faith that the best path was always there I just had to do the work to find it. I still make wrong turns and hit dead ends but I no longer lock the keys in the car and set it on fire. I turn around, see where I went wrong and course correct. There is plenty of room on this road and I promise I'll use my blinkers if you are behind me.

---John Staley

#recovery #alcoholism #wellness #addiction

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