To appreciate how far we've come, it is sometimes necessary to return to the places we've been.
Every week, I hear from people who aren't sure whether they can endure the struggle to overcome addiction and keep a tenuous grip on their newfound recovery.
But among veterans with years or decades behind them, the anguish can be just as intense, though it isn't about the drink or drug anymore. It's about doubt solidified in fear when facing the unfair twists and turns of life's unpredictability.
Right now, I know that Paul in small-town Connecticut, Roseanne from Kenosha, Wis., Gary in California and Marty in St. Paul, Minn., are right there, wondering what's next and how to stick it out, no matter the outcome.
Here's some insight I had while making my annual pilgrimage to an odd oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle.
The chapel tucked away on the mezzanine level above the bustling security checkpoint of concourse C at Chicago's Midway Airport has been my way station of respite for a long time now.
The first time, I stopped on a whim when a snowstorm clogged the terminal with humanity and I felt smothered. Others had found their way there, too. And it didn't matter that we couldn't use cellphones or bring in food to eat in the tiny sanctuary.
We had space, a quiet place with no talking and little interaction. Except that we shared the serenity of gratitude in the moment, a simple cross on the wall and a single burning candle representing what we believe, whatever our faith.
I've gone back every time I pass through Midway, because of the gale-force storminess of my life the past seven or eight years. A period of my middle age rife with blinding uncertainty mixed with doubt, fear and a dash or two of anger.
Emotions I once medicated with substances that never failed to instill a fool's sense of well-being, before they turned and nearly destroyed me.