Recovery has taught me a lot of things about myself and has helped me grow into a man that I could not have imagined when I was using drugs and alcohol. It has taught me that I can be responsible. It has taught me that I can persevere through hard times in life. It has brought me to a place of honesty, understanding and compassion. It has prepared me to be a father to my family.
Thinking about being a father before recovery was an impossible idea and long-lost dream. I think I always knew that I wanted to be a father, but when I was using drugs and alcohol there was no way I could have been so selfless to comprehend the task. Selflessness is the epitome of fatherhood and without recovery I would never have been able to achieve a minute of it.
The simple idea of deciding to stop what I was doing while I was using was an unimaginable task. Think about it. When someone is in the grips of addiction, can they just decide to stop doing drugs in the middle of using? No. That is exactly the reason why recovery had to come first before fatherhood could ever take place. I had to learn how to not be so impulsive and also how to not react to everything. I had to learn that even when I want to do something else, maybe there is another responsibility that I must take first.
Now, being a father in recovery is the most rewarding thing in my life. Everything that my recovery has taught me was for this moment. No matter how annoyed, angry, frustrated, sad or selfish I want to be, as soon as I see my daughter’s smile or pick her up to hold her, any negative emotion that I was feeling quickly drifts away. This is the biggest gift of being a father in recovery.
My wife and I are constantly asking each other if it’s really real that we created such a special little girl. We watch her learn and say things now and it never ceases to amaze me how much she changes every day. Thinking about the day she was born and what she is doing today seems like such an unthinkable journey, but it’s probably the most realistic adventure in my life. I’ve been able to clearly see the changes daily from that moment in the hospital when she was born to where she is now, talking, walking, playing and even gaining her own independence.
Parenthood is definitely the hardest thing that I have ever done with my life, besides getting and staying clean, but both are the most important things in my life too. No matter how hard parenting gets, I can never quit and I never would want to either. My recovery still comes first, but being a father goes hand in hand with my recovery.
As I write this blog now, I am still playing, talking and keeping my daughter entertained with her stuffed animals that she brings me and communicating with the almost incomprehensible language that she speaks to me all the time. This is what parenting is all about, trying to juggle between the things that I need or want to do for myself and also taking the time to be a father to my daughter at the very same moment.