Recovery means keeping my promises. It means believing that I am a man of promise. It means learning to live a life full of promise.

A little over 11 years ago, fresh out of rehab to address my substance abuse issues, I was walking King, my oldest son, to his wrestling practice, with my oldest daughter –  ‘Bug, short for Lady Bug –  who was 5 years old at the time.

Holding my hand with a serious “kung-fu grip,” Bug looked up at me with these big, most beautiful brown eyes, and she challenged me by saying, asking, “Daddy never let me go!?!?” By the grace of my Higher Power, with a lot of prayer and tears, with the help and support of family and friends, and by putting in the hard work, I have been able to keep my promise.

Not only have I kept my promise, but I have also learned how to get a better grip and improve upon, as well as consistently continue to double down on, my efforts to keep my word. Today, I am a present husband, father, son, brother, friend, and living, breathing human being. I have been able to go back and get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, something I swore I would do while I was still in active addiction. I am working a wonderful, fulfilling career as a counselor and trainer where I get to use my experience, strength, and hope to help others find, see, and fulfill their own promise. Furthermore, every day I look into the mirror and not only do I love the man that I am evolving into, but I like him too!

Now, after 11 plus years in recovery, I’ve recently discovered a whole new level to my efforts and recovery lifestyle… I get to!

I get to fully live out and reach the height and width of my promise! I get to reap the harvest and benefits of a life full of promise. Now, please do not get me wrong, this is not to say that I do not and will not experience and face challenges, disappointments, and setbacks. But despite this, maybe as a result of all of this, there is now a maturation, an emergence of my preliminary promise … I get to discover the joy of living!

There is joy to be had, that is an outcome, as long as I continue to expand on my efforts, supports, prayers and taking life one day at a time, just for today. I can have! I get to have! I will have! All that is promised to me because I am keeping my initial promise and not letting go. That is what my recovery means to me, that I get to enjoy, live and experience the fullness of promise!

About the Author: Bernard Alexander is an addictions recovery training specialist with the Behavioral Health Training and Education Network. He has been a counselor and case manager. He has a passion and expertise for working with disadvantaged populations and believes that social justice is an important component of holistic therapeutic healing.