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Thirteen Things I'Ve Learned in Thirteen Years of Recovery

On December 9th, 2010, I woke up in a hospital bed after an overdose. I was cold, scared, and wishing I hadn’t woken up. As I stared at the police officers, knowing I wasn’t going anywhere pleasant, I felt a suffocation like I’d never felt before. I wanted to close my eyes and not ever open them again.

While it was the most horrific day of my life, it was the beginning of the most beautiful period of my life. Truly. In the 13 years since then, I’ve experienced more joy and love than I ever thought possible. In all of that, I’ve learned to live by many rules and principles. I’ve outlined 13 of them here and I invite you to try any or all of them on for yourselves.

  1. I’m playing with house money, so I’m betting big. I never planned on making it through addiction. Living the last 13 years of days I didn’t have banked has me playing the biggest of games.

  2. Every day of my life is a brilliant gift. I stood at the gates of death and lived in the depths of hell for so many years, that coming out the other side alive means every day is a bonus.

  3. The value of my life will ultimately be measured by the value I added to others. Period.

  4. Love without expectation. So often I hear the words “I won’t try harder than someone else in relationships.” That’s not the case for me. I wouldn’t have the majority of my relationships without the extra effort. And guess who wins? All of us.

  5. We’re all a lot more alike than we think. When I published my addiction memoir, I knew I wanted to reach two audiences — those struggling with substance use and those watching loved ones struggle. What I didn’t realize is that so many people would relate to the experience of “not good enough” outlined in so much of my story.

  6. Taking responsibility doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s actually one of the most powerful tools in my toolbox. I’ve inherited characteristics, life experiences, and programs that have been as bad as any, and though I wasn’t always responsible for how they got there, taking responsibility for where they were allowed me to turn the worst liabilities into the greatest assets.

  7. Every time I reach my intended destination, I realize it’s simply the beginning of the next. I know more than ever that reaching the goal is never the end. It’s the beginning of the next great thing.

  8. Gratitude is the greatest antidote to dissatisfaction. Most of my life prior to finding recovery was plagued by overwhelming senses of discomfort and dissatisfaction. Finding gratitude was only the beginning. Sharing and showing gratitude as an action is the true north star in my life.

  9. Generosity is the greatest filler of the voids inside me. Drugs and alcohol were never going to fill the voids long term. Generosity, though, grants me the perspective that my life isn’t that bad, AND it fills most voids of satisfaction. And most importantly — others, and the world, win.

  10. Investing in the highest quality ingredients for my mind, body, and soul is the most promising way to deliver the greatest value to this world. There’s a cost that comes with high quality ingredients — resources, coaches, food, community, and more — but the return on investment is exponentially greater than the cost.

  11. At the end of the day, relationships are what matter most. The things that give me the greatest joy and the things that cause me the most pain all live inside relationships. I cherish them and treat them as the most valuable assets in my life.

  12. Leave it all on the field. One of the most satisfying experiences of my life is the ability to put my head on my pillow at night knowing that if it was the last time I did so, I’d gone all in with the time I had. This happens most nights, something I’ll never take for granted.

  13. Never give up. The difference between the end of a most futile life and the beginning of a most meaningful and joyful life is only 24 hours. And that 24 hours could be the next 24. Hang on for one more day.

As I celebrate another year of the beautiful life I’ve found in recovery, I can’t help but think it will follow the same pattern as the previous 13 — a year full of more growth, reach, and partnerships than any before. Thanks for being part of that.

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