Jeff and Granddad Cataldi

Jeff and Granddad Cataldi


I asked a young man, who has been sober for almost three years, what he’s learned from recovery. He wrote:

Change is constant.

What’s that about?

Life is in motion. And

It’s happening now.

Life in Recovery? (life as a healthy human)

Draw on the past

Hope for the future

With my feet in today

My reflection: When Jeff became sober, he faced a myriad of problems caused by his years of using: financial, health, legal and personal. He had to take one day at a time, live in the present and trust that with persistence, sobriety and faith, he would piece his life back together. 

Today’s Promise to consider: Keeping both feet in today is a challenge. Our busy minds swing between replaying the past and fast forwarding into the future and, in doing so, we find ourselves living in a world of regrets and projections. Today, I’ll do my best to be present and to appreciate the magic in everyday moments.


le-piu-belle-immagini-damore-per-san-valentin-L-eOtgPz“WISDOM BORN OF PAIN”

I interviewed a young man, who has been sober eleven years, and asked him what he’s learned from recovery:
He said: I think that alcoholics and addicts in recovery are some of the most beautiful people in the world.
Libby: Why do you say that?
He said: Because they’ve been through the depths of hell, and survived it, you know?
Libby: I once said to Jeff, “Jeff you have more wisdom than I have.” He said, “It’s because I’ve come from a place you’ve never been.”
He said: And that is the truth.

My reflection: Addiction is complicated, and drugs are dangerous and illegal, so it’s easy to give up on addicts and to see them as a menace to society. Jeff once told me, “Society loathes addicts and addicts loathe themselves.” Once addicts find sobriety, they often become a force for beauty and good.

Today’s Promise to consider: Listening to a recovering person is a gift. They emerge from hell with a wisdom born of suffering and a desire to contribute to life. Today, I will listen to a recovering addict with compassion and an open heart. I might have something to learn.


empty without purpose“I HAVE A PURPOSE”

I asked a young man, who has been sober for almost three years, what he’s learned from recovery. He wrote:  Today I can use my past to help myself and, more importantly, to help others. I don’t carry around shame and guilt about what I’ve done. I don’t dwell on the past, but it’s there if I need to use it. As for the future, I plan as far out as I need to, but I don’t obsess over events that haven’t happened. I don’t live in worry and fear. Instead, I have been made useful to others. I have a purpose.

My reflection: Dr. MacAfee says that addicts are saints in the making. They’ve lived a life that most of us will never know and, when they become healthy, they bring an immense energy, compassion and understanding to their families, communities and themselves.

Today’s Promise to consider: Recovering addicts know that they have an important purpose in life: to contribute, to serve and to help others. Jeff and other recovering people continue to teach me and to inspire me with their courage. They have wisdom born out of suffering and pain. We, who love them, also have a purpose: to reach out our hands and help another.


Jeff and niece Iysa

Jeff and niece Iysa


Jeff wrote: Getting sober is the most important thing an addict will ever do, but it has to be enjoyable along the way. It’s my opinion that recovery should include a sense of both seriousness and levity. A program involving step work and meetings and spirituality should be balanced with hang time with friends, art and exercise – or some combination of things we enjoy. Ultimately, sobriety is about restoring the fun and inspiration in our lives.

My reflection: When Jeff and I talked about this topic, I was confused and questioned him saying, “How is it possible to have fun in recovery? I thought changing from a drug-filled life to a sober life would be excruciating.” He responded with the message above.

Today’s Promise to consider: For both the addict and those of us who love addicts, recovery is a critical endeavor, but it’s also a time during which to have fun and rediscover the joys in life. We don’t forget the past, but we learn from it and embrace life again.


JB-Cascine-Photo-by-Stephanie-Seeley-and-Lindsey-DeWitt-300x199A recovering addict wrote to me: Anger is a clear and abrupt signal that something is wrong. I’m learning to respond to my anger by:

1) Not reacting in the moment. When I feel “hot,” let it sit – like a baking tray coming out of the oven.

2) Examining the anger when I’ve cooled down. What about it caused me to respond so negatively? What role did I play in the situation? What insight does my sponsor and support group have?

3) Taking action. How can I respond in a wise and constructive way to the problem?

My reflection: Anger is a normal response and one that can be healthy if it causes us to take good action. However, anger can also overwhelm and blind us from making smart choices. For me, I’ve learned that anger is usually a kind of fire blanket that covers up my deeper emotions of insecurity, fear or hurt.

Today’s Promise to consider: When I feel angry, I’ll stop and examine what is causing the reaction. What am I feeling under the rage? Am I afraid, depressed or shamed? Today, I won’t give in to the anger, but I will pause, think and pray for clarity about the path forward.