The Phoenix

All the works in this section are pieces I have been paid for as a freelance addiction blogger through the website, Some have been published and some are still en route to being published. In the future, when I have some extra time, I will attach the sites/blogs where they are being used. So this section, in a way, is really a portfolio for my paid freelance writing, but it is also a section where you can hopefully come to feel a little less alone or shameful and afraid if you’re having one of those days, or even just one of those moments. This was an assignment given to me, asking me to write about my experience in recovery, specifically dealing with relapses. This is what I came up with:


The Phoenix: Rising From the Ashes

By Jon Wolotsky


In Greek mythology, a phoenix is known for being reborn from the ashes of its predecessor after dying. When it comes to recovery from drugs and alcohol, I think a phoenix can be used as a great metaphor to describe the transformation we undergo after getting clean. In our active addictions, it’s as if we are slowly emotionally, physically, and psychologically dying. When we are given the gift of and enter the world of recovery, for some it can quite literally feel like being reborn. Out of the ashes, we rise, slowly rebuilding our strength and becoming a new, better version of ourselves. All the while, still retaining the pure, innocent souls we once were before we dove headfirst into the crippling world of addiction.  

But unfortunately for a lot of people, rarely is their transformation as fluid as that of a phoenix. A relapse is when a person with some sobriety time takes a plunge (big or small) back into active addiction. It can be a devastating and debilitating part of one’s journey in the never ending battle with addiction. And while a relapse is certainly not a requirement to obtain and sustain sobriety, for some it can be beneficial, and even needed to reawaken their desire and determination to get clean and sober.

My personal story happens to be full of relapses, and I’ve learned and chosen to accept them as what needed to happen in order for me to get where I am today. As difficult as they were to accept in the moment, and as much as I just wanted to sulk in self-pity, I have rigorously and continuously decided to take these seemingly negative slips, and look at that clear glass (of water, not vodka)) half full.

As I said before, in the moment it’s extremely difficult to see the positive, but looking back on my experiences, I’ve come to realize that for me, each relapse eventually resulted in heightened motivation, stronger self-awareness, and much greater determination to work a better program than I was working before the relapse occurred.

My last relapse was by far the worst to date. And as ironic as it may sound, I’m grateful today that it happened and that it got so bad. Because my consequences were more extreme than in previous relapses, it really reawakened my desire to want to be sober. I finally want to be sober for me. Not (solely) so I stop hurting my parents, not so there’s a chance my ex may take me back, and not so it looks good for the courts. The difference this time around? I truly want what I believe a sober life has to offer and I understand now that I’m going to get out of it, what I put into it. Before, I half-assed it, and I got half-assed results. And as much as we all hate to hear it, myself included, if we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and really listen to people’s suggestions and follow them accordingly, this program really can be simple.

So I’ll leave you with one more cliche, that happens to be one of my favorites, to think about. And really think about it. Recovery is what you make of it. Remember, it really is simple, it’s just not always easy.  


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