There are many ways people process emotion and connect to the experiences of another human being. Connecting to others in recovery is an important thing for anyone struggling to stay clean and sober. One of my favorite ways to connect to other people is through music. Here's a list of songs from my own music collection that I think convey the spirit of recovery, and serve as an inspiration to anyone trying to overcome a difficult period in life.
1. "Blackbird" by The Beatles: Of all the music in the entire world, I don't know of any that has fostered a connection between people in quite the way the Beatles have. When applied to recovery, the analogy of the blackbird is a beautiful one; out of the darkness comes a little bird that learns to fly with its broken wings and see with its sunken eyes. The little bird was "only waiting for this moment to be free" - just as so many addicts wait for the moment when they can be free from drugs and alcohol.
2. "Breathe" by Anna Nalick: This song captures one of the best pieces of advice that anyone in recovery can heed - just breathe. Nalick makes a point of stating that "no one can find the rewind button" to undo the past, and therefore the only option is to take a deep breath and deal with life on life's terms.
3. "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera: This song doesn't take a whole lot of analyzing to understand the message behind it, but the message is an important one. Aguilera talks about how after everything she's been through, she should feel angry and bitter. Instead, she chooses to look at her circumstances as a blessing in disguise because it "makes me that much stronger." Recognizing that what seems like a curse is actually a blessing is one of the greatest gifts of recovery.
4. "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd: One of the sayings that is prominent around the tables of 12 step meetings is to "keep it simple" - stick to the foundations of recovery, and the rest will work itself out. This song is that piece of advice put to music. Part of what makes up a healthy foundation of recovery is to love and understand yourself, as written in the song: "Be a simple kind of man; oh, be something you love and understand."
5. "Times Like These" by the Foo Fighters: This song does a great job of capturing the duality that is often felt by people in recovery: "I am a new day rising/I'm a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight/I am a little divided/do I stay or run away and leave it all behind?" Recovery can make you feel like you have a new start in life, but can also be scary and make you feel like running from everything. Although it can be scary, recovery is that time when people "learn to live again…give and give again…learn to love again."
While this is by no means an exhaustive list (really, it's barely the tip of the iceberg), these songs have motivated me personally in the past, and continue to do so every time I hear them. There are a great number of songs about active addiction, and many people have been able to connect through the experience of knowing what addiction feels like. This list is meant to instill hope and have people be able to connect through the experience of being able to recover and reclaim their lives.
Jessica Parks is a certified alcohol and drug counselor in the state of Illinois and has her M.A. in art therapy counseling.