What Does Recovery Look Like to Me?

This week our post comes from Alicia. She has shared that she is much more comfortable with calculus than with writing, but felt very strongly that she needed to share her story, even though writing is not her strongest area. We are so grateful for her courage and willingness to share her experience in working recovery, and the beautiful way she has expressed her feelings here.

What does recovery look like to me?

I love the gym. I know that sounds crazy to many of you reading this, but the gym is my happy place. At the gym people know my name.

I do a group fitness class at the gym and I have a friend in that class that always emanates a true joy for life. This group fitness class is a dance class, and when my friend (we will call her Kim) dances in this class she has a freeness and lightness that I don’t have.

I always thought I was secure in my own skin. Kim was clearly comfortable in her own skin but I could tell she was at a higher level than I was. For many months I wondered what made Kim different from me, but I never had the courage to ask her.


About three years ago my husband disclosed to me that he was addicted to pornography and had been acting out our entire marriage. I cannot put into words the pain of his disclosure. I tend to work at a problem until I have it managed, and so I immediately found a sex addiction therapist.

The therapist told me that I needed to start attending a twelve step group, called SAL, for women who are suffering from betrayal trauma. The therapist told me I would find healing by having the support of other women in the same situation as me.

I followed her advice and found a group. I remember the first time I walked into the room, the women there were laughing and enjoying talking to each other.

I thought, “I must be in the wrong place.”

I mean, were we not here because our husbands were sex addicts? How was it that the women here looked happy? I sat down and recognized that these women had trauma in their lives, but they did not live from the place of being victims. I could see they were healing from their pain and that they were healthier than I had ever been.

They announced that SAL was putting on an all day conference for men and women in the program. My husband and I went to the conference and learned so much about healing from addiction and betrayal.

During one of the breaks at the conference I ran into my friend Kim. I was totally shocked to see someone that I knew. Kim gave me a hug and promised me that if I worked the SAL program then I would find healing. She told me her story and how she attended a group and worked the program. I was still in the very beginning of recovery and I needed to hear her healing process.

A few months ago I was thinking about Kim and how I used to always wonder what she had that I didn’t have. I realize now that what she has is a greater connection with her Higher Power than I had at that point. She has friends in group that know her, I mean REALLY know her. She has an understanding of her relationship to her Higher Power and that makes her different.

I was in a group fitness dance class recently and instead of worrying about doing the steps just right I closed my eyes and smiled to myself…

I think I now have what Kim has…

I love me more now than I ever have before.

I love other people now more than I ever have before.

I love my husband more now than I ever did before.

Recovery is painful, but it can be so connecting if we allow it to be. I would never choose to have this problem in my marriage, but I would also never choose to go back to the person that I was before.

I have a best friend that I went to dinner with recently and we were talking about our usual topics. She has listened to me complain about my mother and father-in-law for almost twenty years. (Bless her heart!)

We talked about the fact that I sent my husband and children on vacation with my mother and father-in-law, and I decided to stay at home. At the end of our dinner my best friend said, “You are different, I can see it in your face. You have never been this happy and healthy. I want what you have.” I invited her to join a twelve step program and feel the healing of a power greater than all of us.

I have learned that boundaries are one of my favorite things to practice.

I have a boundary that I will not be around people that do not love me and do things to hurt me. So it was very easy to send my family on vacation and stay home where I was safe. I felt sad and lonely the first two days they were gone and I let myself sit in the sadness.

When friends asked me if I was happy with the situation I said “I am sad and lonely, but happy that I am safe. I am happy I am modeling healthy boundaries for my children.” After the first two days I started planning fun things to do with friends that I rarely get to spend time with. I had so much fun visiting with people.

I realized that the next time my husband takes my children on a trip with his parents I am going to travel somewhere fun. I will never again stay home, I will take this opportunity to expand my travel itinerary. I have always been the more financially responsible person in my marriage. I have always been the one to try and save money and think to myself that when I am older I will travel for fun. I recognize I was not taught to think about my own needs and take positive action to meet them.

I can change that about myself. I am changing that about myself. I don’t want to waste my time hoping for a day when I am important, I want to take care of my needs now. When I am full of life, love, and hope I can bless everyone around me with that as well.

I would love to hear what recovery looks like for you. Please share in the comments below. 

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