Perspective: I Don’t Have To Do It On My Own

by Tim C. (Sullivan 2014)

If you are not where you want to be life, surround yourself with those who are.

~ Brian Schwartz

I follow some motivational feeds on my twitter account, and came across this one not too long ago. Normally I quickly glance at them and move on, but this one made me go back to it. I found it makes a lot of sense. If I want to be a better public speaker, I can’t do that on my own, which is why places like Toastmasters are around. If I want to exercise every day, I know the best way to do it is to buddy-up with someone to get me out the door on those days I just want to sit home.

So why did it take me so long to apply this to my recovery? I graduated from Renascent in December 2014. I started the Continuing Care program, but stopped half way through. I went to local AA meetings, sort of. I eventually joined a home group, but then stopped going to it. I took even longer to get a sponsor, and then stopped calling him. And then I stopped going to AA altogether, figuring I could do it on my own.

I looked at AA as going to work, or more accurately taking a course in high school. After all, there’s a hard cover book, right? Take “the course” for a semester. Get my passing mark; anything about 50% will do. And move on.

I managed to stay sober after I left Renascent, but I have to admit that it often was pretty miserable. My emotions were all over the place. Angry, lonely, fearful … I had them all. I also figured I could read my way out of my problems. Recovery books. Motivational books, CD’s and phrases. I was looking for that magic bullet, that one phrase, paragraph, or YouTube clip that would give me purpose and direction. It was all about doing it on my own and doing it “my way.” Frank Sinatra had nothing on me! In the past I spent all of my drinking time alone, so I figured I could also get out of it on my own. No higher power, no other people, just me.

And then, miraculously, it all started to come together. I made a call one Sunday afternoon to Renascent to see how many more payments were due on my aftercare program. When the counsellor who took the call heard that I had stopped going, he put me in touch with the counsellor looking after the program in Brooklin and this was my first step back.

I went back to finish the Continuing Care program and hooked up with a great bunch of guys, to the point where I now look forward to the meeting each Wednesday night. Not only am I enjoying the sessions, but I’m learning things from the other guys. I started going to local meetings again, and found one with a great group of people. I made this my home group, and got a sponsor to go through the program with.

The amazing part is that even though I’m coming up on one year sober, it’s like I’m just starting my recovery. I’ve come to realize that being sober and actually recovering are not the same thing.

One of my favourite recovery scenes is from the TV show The West Wing. I actually quoted this scene on my graduation day at the Sullivan House back at the end of December. It took me close to a year to finally understand the true meaning of the message that in order to find recovery, not only am I not alone, I also don’t have to do it on my own. There are many others who have been there before, and know the way out. It took me close to a year to figure this out, but I think I am finally there.

Editor’s Note: You can watch Tim’s favourite scene from The West Wing here.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email