The Path of Recovery

This is one post I wasn’t sure about publishing. However, one major part of the overall wellness that I try to promote on this site is having open and honest communication. Here I share a little bit of my own personal journal in hopes it can help others.

Taking the Wrong Path

There may be times in our journey where we aren't at our best, we make mistakes, or we take the wrong path and do things that bring regret or shame. With the way the world presents a false idea that people are supposed to have an 'ideal life' that's always perfect without any blemishes, these difficult parts of our story are often ones we want to hide from everyone else. We feel we have to be faultless and that we can never admit we once chose the wrong path in the Forest of Difficult Decisions.

Sure, once we make our way back out of a wrong path, we can indeed return to the entrance of the forest, coming face to face with all the bright-eyed adventures just starting to enter and tell them "I made it through this forest with no issues at all because I'm so strong". We can say that, all while doing our best to hide the bruises and scrapes that would reveal the truth should they be seen. And for a time, we feel safe and secure in the knowledge that we successfully avoided detection of our poor path choosing abilities. But before long, the bruises get harder to hide, the rips in our clothes grow bigger from lack of mending, and the weight on our shoulders that we feel from the failure itself becomes heaver on our backs.

But there is another way to deal with traveling down wrong paths. Instead of hiding our poor choice, we embrace it, we learn from it, and we can make efforts to ensure others don't suffer from the same dangers. We could erect signs around the path to warn others of its pitfalls. We could even return to the entrance to the forest, to those same bright-eyed adventures, stopping to do one of the most heroic things with them that we can. We could share with them the hardships we overcame in the wrong parts of the forest and help them avoid the dangers themselves.

You see, It's not being able to always avoid the wrong paths that makes us heroic, it's the ability to make it all the way through the wrong paths with a lesson in our minds and determination in our hearts to ensure others don't falter over the same rocky paths.

My Story

A few years ago I was forced to come to terms with the darkest parts of myself. I had lived for nearly two decades hiding depression, anger, pain, and the addictions I turned to in order to self medicate from those emotions. I kept even my own family at arms length, never letting them know the ‘real me’. I spent my whole life building walls around myself, to the point that I had entrenched myself in a massive fortress of barriers from the outside world. Then I simply projected what I wanted everyone to think was the ‘real me’, trying to pass myself off as being fully confident, stable, put together, and happy version of myself. I was constantly afraid, however, that the world would eventually get a peek behind the curtain to see me for the monster I felt I was, scaring off even my closest friends and family. It was a life of deceit, regret, and deep loneliness. I wish could tell you I did the right thing by seeking help before my life got out of control, but I didn’t. I only started on a restorative road of recovery once my web of lies got me so tangled that I began making decisions way outside of my values and eventually outside of the law. I was caught, with all of my deepest secrets spilling out for everyone to see.*

Now, that fortress around myself that I spent my whole life protecting had been destroyed in an instant. It came crumbling down all around me, leaving me to sift through the rubble of the two lives I was leading to try and discover which parts were the real me. No more secrets, no more lies, not even with myself. I had to take a long hard look at who I was and the decisions I had made. I finally realized I needed help and that I needed to go on a journey of recovery.

In the first few days, I was convinced everyone would abandon me and that I would be on this journey alone. But to my surprise, not only was I not abandoned, but I was surrounded by loved ones who committed to surrounding me with love and support. While I did cause immense pain to my family, I’ve spent the last five years becoming closer to them then I had ever been before as I finally let them know the real me. As it turns out, the real me wasn’t a monster at all. Sure, I made some monstrous mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define me. I was just wounded and didn’t know how to find recovery on my own. Now I’ve found it, thanks not only to my support system but thanks to quality therapy and 12-Step programs as well (the latter two have a lot of negative stigmas against them that I intend to address in later posts).

So I’ve learned, the hard way I might add, that upholding the lies of a ‘perfect journey’ hold us back from healing, growing, and helping others. Because it’s precisely on these wrong paths that we learn from our mistakes, learning to push forward even harder, becoming stronger in the process. Then, after we learn the dangers of these paths, we can use the knowledge as fuel to light our preverbal lanterns, helping to provide safe passage for others. There may be times we don’t quite make it in time to keep others from taking the same path as us, but even then we can show them the safe rocks to step on, the best medicine to use on specific wounds, or lend them some extra thread for patching the tears in their clothes. Finally in the end, we can all join around a fire, letting our wounds openly exist in the safety of our shared experiences and trade stories about the perils we all just survived together.

*While I’m happy with where I am, it was a painfully difficult road to get this far. I’ve intentionally left my story vague for the safety and privacy of my family and I request that decision be respected.

Enter ‘Quills & Quests’

I’ve learned so much over the past few years about the deep importance of living honestly with yourself and others, and how much health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) plays a major part in that life. I’ve discovered so many tools, resources, and strategies that I so wish I knew about before I started taking the paths that I took.

I also found creative pursuits to be one of the most helpful resources during my recovery journey. I’ve made new friends, discovered skills I didn’t realize I had, and found a pursuit that brings me a joyous sense of accomplishment. As it turns out, the best way to get rid of bad habits isn’t just ‘quitting’ them (which is part of it) but by pouring time and energy into a creative endeavors to replace the old habits with new, more fulfilling ones. So many addictions or self medication methods really just stem from the same desire, wanting to cope or escape from something negative in your life. Sadly, those methods usually also bring with them shame, regret, and isolation. I now firmly believe that pursing creative interests with others can provide a healthy amount of escape while also bringing along pride, fulfillment, and community.

Which brings us back full circle to Quills & Quests itself. I’ve found that for me, Tabletop RPGs check all the above boxes and has been a big part of my own recovery journey. So, with wanting to share the resources I found helpful in my recovery while also wanting to share my love of Tabletop RPGs, I decided to start my own site that finds a way to merge them together in unique package that hopefully makes both more relatable and accessible.

Starting Your Path

Life gets hard and the journey can often seem overwhelming, but you’re Not alone! If you’re going through a difficult time in your life right now, please reach out to a friend or family member. I hope that some things on this site can be helpful as well but just know that the biggest step of recovery or getting through this dark part in your life is the first step, and I fully believe in you that you’re capable of doing that!

Emergency Resources

If you’re in crisis, please reach out to one of the emergency resources below.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

"We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States."
– 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

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