2020 – Blessings and Lessons of Recovery

As another year comes to an end, I once again feel gratitude for the fact that I wouldn’t be here had I maintained the kind of lifestyle I did 19 years ago. In front of me is a new year with new opportunities for helping myself and others.

Just like everyone else, this past year woke me up. Without warning, sharp change took me by surprise. At times I let my guard down, I hustled, I persevered, I pushed, I argued, I cried, I laughed, and I felt alone. The emotional roller coaster of 2020 reminded me of what I felt like as a newcomer in recovery.

Am I alone? I don’t think so. From my perspective, the whole world entered recovery.

There was a global admittance to the fact that we are powerless over an unknown, fast-spreading virus and our lives became unmanageable. We had to get honest with ourselves about that. From the start, we acknowledged that we have no control over the spread of this thing, however, in time, we began to believe that a power greater than us, the scientists, or even the physicians, that could. Our job remains that we follow suggestions, step aside, and let that higher power do for us what we could not and cannot do for ourselves.

We had to realize the part we play when we let our character defects and shortcomings lead us in our decisions. That’s when we started to open up with others in ways we thought we never could. We reflected on how our choices affect the people around us. We considered that how we once dealt with things is not how we ought to deal with things in the future.

We considered the actions that were necessary to establish healthier lifestyles and in so doing, our relationships with others became more meaningful and our interactions more purposeful. When we do that, we have an opportunity to course-correct past disconnects and commit to the changes necessary that we hope will enhance the world around us.

We took stock each day about our actions and words. We got quiet and listened to that inner wisdom for our next right step and then we did whatever necessary to take that step, became of maximum service to others with that ever important “me too” message.

What a gift the 12 Steps are for me. Even in the midst of a global crisis, I have foundational guidance that helps me clear my perspective and look for blessings as a survivor rather than problems as a victim.

Just like what I experienced at this same time 19 years ago, the world went, and is still going through, emotional upheaval.  There were pain and tears coupled with grief and frustration, not to mention a lot of resistance and denial. The globe was a newcomer that I observed through the lens of long-term recovery wisdom.

What I learned—and continue learning—is that when our intentions are clear and unselfish, we can navigate life’s challenges one day, one minute, one breath at a time.

Dear friends, do that with me now. Take a few slow deep breaths and congratulate yourself because if you are reading this, that means you survived whatever this past year presented you. I suggest we will emerge from this better, stronger and more resilient because of our everyday efforts to navigate some extraordinary terrain.

I wish you a new year filled with unexpected blessings and may we join together with hope in our hearts and a willingness to remain teachable.


Alison Smela is a writer, speaker, and an addiction recovery and health advocate. Through her blog Alison’s Insights www.alisonsmela.com, Alison shares her experience overcoming alcoholism and life-threatening eating disorder in midlife and how she now faces everyday challenges using recovery-based solutions. Feel free to connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, (@alisonsmela), or Instagram (alison.smela).

The Recovery Speakers team is able to carry the message solely on donations and occasional collectible literature sales. Please consider a donation.

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