The Courage to be Strong

By Ken Wells - 12/09/2022


Series Three: Blog Eighty-Five

Brittany Griner is a celebrated female athlete who has played basketball for the Phoenix Mercury for the past 9 years. She has won almost every award imaginable in her sport. She was freed from a Russian prison yesterday. She had been sentenced to 9 years in prison by Russian authorities who had convicted her of breaking the law for bringing less than a gram of hash oil into the country. It was prescribed to her by her doctor in the U.S. for pain.  She was in Russia to play basketball for a country she called her second home. She stated she did not know that the prescription was against Russian law.

Dawn Staley is a college basketball coach for women at the University of South Carolina and had previously coached Griner in the 2020 Olympic Games and other world tournaments where Griner led her team to victory and gold medals for her country.

In the midst of some politicians calling Griner spoiled and loaded with drugs, Staley spoke out for Griner’s posited faith in her character on many occasions. Upon hearing about Griner’s release she broke down and wept in relief and joy. She stated that she thought about Brittany each and every day of her 294 days of incarceration. She insisted that she sent positive energy to her as well as Secretary of State Blinken, President Biden and all who were working to secure Griner’s release every day. She concluded the interview emphasizing that everyone needs someone to be strong for them every day.

Who are you being strong for today? As an addict in recovery, it is human to want to slack on recovery follow through. Recovery is so daily! Inner voices tell you no one is looking and no one really cares. If you don’t go to meetings, contact your sponsor, work the steps, no one will notice and it won’t matter! There is truth in the voices without context and perspective. Of course, the greatest impact of recovery breakdown is on you. Yet, addictive rationale can quickly cover this reality with the idea that you can always go back and pick up your recovery program, make amends, move forward while enjoying the rush of acting out.

What gets overlooked in the mental exchange is the impact upon those who are counting on you to remain true to your values and recovery. If you were to abandon your recovery, even for a day, how would that impact those who depend upon you to remain sober? What kind of pain would your relapse create for your partner? Your kids?  Colleagues?  Those who have been counting on you to be strong?

I have been practicing recovery for the past 34 years. There have been times I have wondered what it would be like to give it all up and surrender to the everyday struggles that come with sobriety and responding to life as an adult. Who would even notice?  Then my wise mind contemplates the sacrifice and undying support of my wife and what relapse would mean to her. From a distance,  my adult sons observe what is going on in my life and count on me to be true to my values. They would undoubtedly be affected.  There are professional colleagues, some close and many I don’t even know who through the years have been inspired to remain true to their values because of principles of recovery I have stood for. Their commitment to their own values would be hurt if I gave up on mine. Then, there are countless numbers of clients who I have impacted therapeutically. Without any words spoken, they would be hurt, some devastated, if I decided to surrender my values or choose to return to addictive behavior.

It is easy to overlook and underestimate the impact of your choices. It comes with living life as an adult. We all impact others.

Consider the following:

  1. The impact of your recovery is an accumulation of everyday choices you make. The conduct of recovery illuminates choices to build character and conviction while surrendering recovery to vice and addictive choice darkens the possibility of consistent inner peace.
  2. How you treat yourself when no one is looking will be the way you impact others in the light of everyday living.
  3. Influence quietly builds by being true to your values amidst the noisy clamor of empty words and contradictory behavior.
  4. When you think about giving up, visualize the child inside that never mattered. Be to h/her now what never was then and let the smile of self-love propel you to move forward one more day.
  5. The courage to be strong is determined by the choice to do the next right thing regardless of opposition, feeling or physical weakness. It is the choice to say “Yes I can” when you inner voice is screaming “No, you can’t”.

Collectively, recovery is a courageous voice of poise and peace that quietly transforms the world you are in by the way you live.

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