Purpose in Recovery
Life without purpose is like a body without a soul.”
– Tasneem Hameed
I’m now in the second week of my new job as a behavioral health tech. I’m finding my niche here and love working with newcomers. Essentially, we all have the same story. Our drug of choice helped us feel better until it didn’t anymore. However, there were differences, too.
One client in particular, stood out. This is the week that John came back to rehab for his twelfth time. He was only twenty-two years old. At first, I couldn’t make sense of it. John was a likeable guy, but a totally lost soul. His father would relentlessly dole out checks to cover anything he wanted. He had totaled three new sports cars to date and most recently one of his father’s. He actually chuckled when talking about it. John didn’t care about all the money his parents wasted on him. He had no interest in going to college or doing anything worthwhile in his life. John’s career was rehab attendance.
After another month or two of rehab under his belt, John would leave, meet with his friends and go out to party again. He never intended to stay sober.
Rehab has all the tools, but you can’t get far without the willingness to get sober.
He didn’t take rehab or his drug addiction seriously – including his near-death experiences. After a few months of hard partying, he’d simply return to rehab to recover again. This was a perpetual cycle for him; a cosmic habit force of his own making.
John had never accomplished anything of value and never developed any self-esteem as a result. Although he never spoke of it, I could see that he felt his very existence was worthless. I guessed that throughout his young life, he had never known lack, yet still must have felt so unimportant; so uncared for and useless.
Another client was Adelle, a seventy-year old woman who lost her husband to heart disease a few years ago. Her lifetime history of drinking was minimal, but that quickly progressed due to the gaping hole in her life. She enjoyed good relationships with her daughter and grandchildren, but could not pull herself away from her grief. When she lost her husband, she lost all purpose in her life.
I recognized how both John and Adelle had the same underlying issue – no incentive for living. From my view I could see that they both lacked a meaningful reason to be alive.
Without a purpose, your life is just empty.
My ears perked up when a group meeting brought up the subject of purpose for discussion. I was so impressed how the therapist led John and Adelle into creating some realistic goals toward achieving that. It was a step by step process that led them to discover what they cared about and what they wanted to get involved with.
I’m writing about this now because I ran into John last week. He has 18 months of sobriety and he looks great. John has been involved in Narcotics Anonymous and has two sponsees. He’s been working at a recovery center for six months and plans on becoming a certified addiction counselor next year. He is a walking miracle. I could tell he was happy and really at peace with himself.
I never saw or heard about Adelle after she left. Sometimes we never know the outcome of someone who has touched our lives. But I sure have sent her more than a few prayers.
The purpose of life… is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson