The Butterflies of Recovery

The Butterflies of Recovery
If nothing changed, there wouldn’t be butterflies*

What a beautiful yet powerful statement and it reminds me that change is inevitable in all our lives. Change--what a concept! When we were in the throes of our addiction we couldn’t. We didn’t know how. And, honestly, we didn’t want to. Change is uncomfortable even when it is the positive kind. As addicted women, though, change was terrifying. In all likelihood, the only changes in our lives were negative, creating more shame, despair and unhappiness and we were at the root of it all.

Butterflies are beautiful and so this week I wanted to focus in on the positive changes women make in themselves when they begin changing their lives through the 12 Steps of recovery. I am purposely not focusing on the word “self-esteem”. I think this article addresses how we can begin the process of regaining self-esteem in a light, more whimsical way. I will definitely talk about self-esteem seriously at another time.

I have heard it said that the recovery rooms are beauty schools for women; charm schools for women. Those statements are so true. I want you to mentally picture yourself as you entered your first day of detox, rehab, or the rooms of recovery, which ever came first. Or maybe you are not in any phase of recovery. If that is the case, look at yourself in the mirror when you first get up in the morning. Think of or look at your entire body. See your face, your hair, your skin, your arms, and legs. How do you look? I can tell you how I looked. I was extremely thin, my hair was lifeless, I had bags under my eyes, facial wrinkles seemed to be taking over a good portion of my face, I had bruises on my legs, arms and face that mysteriously had appeared and I had the shakes. Sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it?

Now your turn. How did you look? If you don’t remember or think you didn’t look all that bad, ask a family member or a friend who will be honest with you. Please do not think that I am focusing on appearance for appearance sake. I am not implying that we have to change our appearance in an unnatural way. What I am suggesting is that we begin to take care of ourselves and return to health.

The first step in our return to health is the day we fully commit to recovery and admit our addiction. As we begin to recover, one day at a time, we begin to care once again how we look. We have hope now and having hope is part of how we are changing. We begin to take pride in our appearance. We are beginning to feel alive and it is being noticed. Friends and family alike will undoubtedly see a difference in your appearance. Sometimes it is as simple as wearing makeup, a new hair style, gaining a few pounds, losing a few pounds, or maybe it is the fact that you are walking tall and holding your head high.

The most remarkable change in the appearance of most women in recovery is in their eyes. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Look into the eyes of a woman when she first enters recovery and you will see the shame, pain, hurt and all else that burdens her. Look again after a few days, weeks, months and notice the amazing change. The eyes appear alert, shining, and vibrant. The healing has begun and what a beautiful thing!

Yes, we become more beautiful but what about the charm? 12 Step Recovery teaches us how to treat others. It tells us how important it is not to harm others. It teaches us to forgive. It teaches us to be the women we know we can be and want to be. Charm is not about being witty and popular. Charm is about being gentle and kind.

I know, my recovering friends that you do understand that I am not talking about being beautiful and charming from a purely aesthetic point of view. True beauty and charm will always come from within. But even before we can make all of these miraculous changes in our inner selves, we can begin changing how we look on the outside. It begins to make us feel good, to be alive, to smile. Change for me meant eating right, exercising, getting to the dentist, getting a massage and doing anything normal women do on a daily basis to take care of themselves. (I did stop short of a facelift but I have to admit, putting a halt to smoking worked wonders for the wrinkles). Change for you may mean something completely different.

Change is inevitable and when you enter recovery your life will definitely change. While you are waiting for all of the miracles and promises of recovery, change enough to become that butterfly. Begin to fly and feel free!

Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.

*I don’t know who wrote this but thank you whoever you are.

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