“Paradise” | 60 Days

I picked up my first drink in 2013. These last 5 years were filled with lost opportunities, broken relationships, deep depressions, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, rehabs, and rock bottom after rock bottom. I first entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2015 at the age of 20, but I wasn’t ready to do whatever it took to get sober. I thought that I was above recovery, that I just wasn’t bad enough yet. My desire to stay effed up was stronger than my desire to get sober. I held on tightly to reservations about my ability to live forever without drugs or alcohol. I refused to let go of my resentments and old ways, which led me straight to a relapse every time. I believed that I was allowed to relapse, because I could always just start over. What an insane lie I told myself to justify my actions. In retrospect, it was only by the protection of my higher power that I came out on the other side of every drug and alcohol relapse still alive. I easily could have overdosed, crashed my car, or successfully taken my life at any moment as a consequence of my addiction. This last relapse almost killed me, which is why I left North Carolina to get the support I needed in Florida.

On August 2nd I arrived to my parents’ house, withdrawing from drugs and alcohol, depressed, and overwhelmed by the disasters I caused in my addiction. The next day I started attending AA meetings. I was finally broken enough to admit that nothing else had worked in getting and keeping me sober. I was powerless over alcohol, my life was utterly unmanageable, and I couldn’t sustain a life in recovery on my own. I decided to commit myself 100% to the program and to do whatever it took to experience lifelong recovery.

I reached out for a sponsor and began working the steps. I did what I was told, including, “Go to a meeting every day and don’t drink between meetings,” because I knew that AA had worked (and does work) for millions of people just like me. I quickly learned that I was not unique in my alcoholism. People in the rooms of AA told their stories and in those stories I heard my own. I was instructed to hand my life and self-will over to a higher power of my understanding, so I did, even though a part of me resented the idea of God. I was completely willing to do anything and I still am. I’ve come to believe that only in that special place of absolute willingness can an addict find recovery.

They say in the rooms, “Keep coming back, it works if you work it.” 

So I am.
And it really is working.
As a direct result of the steps I am taking–after 5 years of battling addiction–I am 60 days sober for the first time.

I am amazed. Through relying on my higher power and others in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have arrived. I did not get to day 60 on my own. I couldn’t have.

My life used to center on that next drink or drug. It was all I ever thought about. I oriented my relationships around who could best help me enter oblivion. It was sick… and so was I. But that obsession to drink and drug is gone. That in itself is a miracle. The life I am living now is one beyond my wildest dreams and it’s only day 60. I didn’t believe this state of being was possible. I am blown away by the gifts that my recovery has given to me.

My relationships are thriving, especially my relationship with my boyfriend. My parents and I are living well together and I am beyond grateful for their support through all of this. I mean, if me having a stable relationship with my parents isn’t evidence enough that this program is working, let me throw out there that Kyle is back in my life and we’re working on a glorious friendship. Recovery is teaching me how to pursue the things that my addiction stole.

But wait, there’s more!

Earlier this week, I was hired at Coalition Recovery, a rehab center where I get to invest into the lives of other addicts. I’m already plugged into my role there and it is more rewarding and fulfilling than I can express. It’s everything I could ever ask for in a job and then some. Coalition has reminded me of who I am and what I was made to do. I am overflowing with gratitude.

My newfound ability to be present for work, school, and the people I love is something I don’t take for granted. As I’ve worked my program, joy has followed, even on the rough days. As long as I work for them, my days will add up and before I know it, not only will I have more sober days than I do drunk days, but every single one of The Promises will be my reality. I could choose to throw this life away and go back out at any time, but the beauty of my program is that I only have to stay sober one day at a time. Even just one second at a time is progress. What AA gives me is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. How does one maintain a spiritual condition conducive to lifelong recovery, you ask? That, my friends, is exactly what I’m learning. That is the meat and bones of the AA program. It’s only up from here, but there is still so much work to be done.


To celebrate more than 5-million, 97-thousand, and 600 seconds of sobriety, here is Paradise, a track produced by Jiinyung that I wrote and sang on. I hope you all dig the future bass direction that I’m taking with my music. Enjoy!

The song will be up on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, or wherever you get music sometime later today! I’ll be sure to share the links here and on my social media!

Verse 1
Broke every chain a
nd all that remains are
Memories of darkness and truth coursing veins
The mirror was my rival
Transformed into friend
Reflecting revival, smiling again

Chorus
There is hope in the sunrise
‘Cause I live one day at a time
Happy to be alive
I am paradise

Verse 2
This warmth is astounding
The breeze brings peace
I’m grateful, but marvel at how I’ve released
All control of what had stolen my soul
The shrugging and numbing
The fear and the running away
From broken and shattered
To knowing I matter

Bridge
Paradise
I am known, I am known
Paradise
I am home, I am home
Paradise
I am known, I am known
Paradise
I am home, I am home
Home

With hope,
Donaven

P.S. Friendly reminder that my Ask box is always open: https://donavensmith.com/ask/. Anonymous or not, I’ll answer your question, whatever it may be.


Things I love right now:

  1. My #recoverywithdonaven Spotify playlist. If you need to be encouraged by some jams, do your ears and soul a favor.
  2. Avril Lavigne’s comeback anthem, “Head Above Water.” Ugh, just slay me, queen.
  3. Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Judge me all you want, I’m living my best life. I’m aware that it’s God awful, but that’s what makes it entertaining.
  4. The stellar staff at Coalition. I feel right at home. I’m excited to grow with this company.

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