Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys and more recently Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace, wrote an essay for the Huffington Post earlier this month entitled “How To Take The Worst Kind Of Pain And Turn It Into Light.” While reading the essay I couldn’t help but relate her words to drug recovery and the process of receiving treatment for addiction.
On this blog we write a lot about the pain of addiction, how it can plague anyone regardless of class, race or gender, and how when it overcomes you it is indescribably difficult to fight back.
Donofrio writes about pain, and the various tragedies that have haunted her life: growing up in a low-income family, getting pregnant at 17, experiencing a divorce at 19 and as a single mother, being convicted of a drug felony. Donofrio writes that after attempting to take her own life, she finally surrendered: “Nowhere to go, nowhere to look but up, I dropped my self-image as a wild girl, sensed that there was help out there, I needed it, and I could get some.”
Though Donofrio’s struggle is not drug addiction, the words she writes can be easily applied to drug recovery. When she says, “nowhere to look but up,” she argues that pain, and the depths of ourselves to which it drops us, is necessary in order to heal; the struggle of addiction is integral for a successful recovery and a life of sobriety.
“Is there ever change without loss? Is there ever not pain before recovery?” writes Donofrio at the close of her essay. No, I would argue. Happiness exists in the light of sadness, and health in the light of addiction.