Recovering…or recovered. Does it make any difference?

This is the fourth part by Lyle Prouse

So…who cares? Each person must find their own level of comfort with this disease in order to accomodate their recovery and achieve – and maintain- their sobriety.

Since alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease I consider myself recovering vs recovered. Chronic means”it never goes away, or it recurs”. And, as I mentioned in another post, it’s called “Alcohol-ISM…not alcohol-WASM.”

Medical science shows that alcoholism never goes away but can be arrested. Once “pickled,” a cucumber will never be a cucumber again!

So…recovered…or recovering…I’ve always smiled at the issue of “-ed” vs “-ing” as it seems pretty trivial as long as one is sober today. And I’m always curious as to why it should even be an issue. But…to each his/her own and it just simply makes no difference to me how someone else chooses to handle this. Each of us has to decide how we’ll handle our alcoholism. If someone has been abstinent for 22 years then whatever they’re doing must be working – and good for them.

I’ve had no desire to drink for nearly 21 years or so, in that sense I display no symptoms, either. But the disease is still active and hidden inside and will come alive the second I ingest the first sip of booze. The fact that it can’t be seen is meaningless, in my view. Or perhaps, that makes it even more dangerous.

The use of “ing” (as in recovering) keeps me in the present as a reminder that I need to be ever vigilant about relapse. It’s easy to “forget,” after a number of years, just how bad it was and how bad it can be again, and many an alcoholic has discovered that to his or her chagrin – and sometimes demise.

Others may do what they wish, but I never want to believe that I’ve beaten this disease or got it made. My alcoholism will never be a thing of the past so I do not choose the past will never go away. My active alcoholism (as in “drinking”) is, hopefully, a thing of the past but I never want to become complacent and think all my battles have been fought. Thus, I maintain a healthy level of fear and respect for my disease, remembering that the time to plan for war is in time of peace. I’ve watched far too many become victims of a mental/emotional ambush, wondering afterwards what the hell happened. Alcoholism is mental, emotional, and physical and two of the three axes reside where no one can see them.

So, “ed” or “ing,” whatever… Again, to each his/her own. But I will always be recovering and am just fine with that. Once they put me in the casket (sober), they can change it to “ed”. In the meantime, who cares..?

Read the fifth part: “An Honest Admission – Standing up for Yourself”  

You can read the complete account of Lyle Prouse’ autobiographical account of his tryst with law and his redemption against alcoholism in his book, “Final Approach“,  by ordering the book online at


Permission of Captain Lyle Prouse to use his posts on an aviation forum for the purpose of this blog is gratefully acknowledged.

Grateful thanks to Brian Abraham for introducing me to the story of Lyle Prouse, and to Rob, Forum Administrator, for consenting to use the material on their forum for the larger public good for information and knowledge dissemination.


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  1. Read Lyle’s story in 4th edition of The Big Book and wanted to investigate a little more as I remembered the incident in 1990. His story is an inspiration to all of us alcoholics and great example of the “Promises” ringing true.

      • Av Med on 27 August 2011 at 07:35

      Dear Richard,
      thank you for your comments.
      Indeed Lyle’s story is a story of grit and determination to fight against all odds. He continues sharing his experiences to motivate and inspire others to recover from alcoholism.

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