Recovery Notebook an essay with photos

A recovery notebook is much more personal than a simple diary. Inside you will find things which normally are not disclosed to anyone expect maybe a priest or sponsor. It is hard, trusting the wild ball of spaghetti from inside my head to a piece of paper and a pen.

All of the recovery notebooks I have ever done have started in this exact way, dealing with trust. I have lived with others for the last 13 years of my life. Luckily, my spouse and my father have no desire to know what has crawled out, battered and bloody, from the wars going on inside my head and onto the paper.

My first recovery notebook, long since gone, was a spiral bound notebook. I have journaled since I was a child. So pouring my disease onto paper was easy enough. That early notebook was filled with resentment, the world is wrong, and suicidal thoughts. I had spun wildly out of control, and my command of the English language had been fried. I couldn’t come up with the words to write, not able to remember the words to describe things. Yet, it was that recovery notebook, with strange words and ideas, that helped bring me back enough to run a blog. 

Why to use one? At first it was because I lived long distance from my sponsor, and could not afford a phone call. I could write things down that my sponsor would never hear. Later, I learned that some sponsors would not appreciate a 3 am phone call when my mind was whirling out of control. I learned to write, and keep writing until the urge to drink passed. I also learned to write until the suicidal urge passed. Eventually, as the homework was piled on, I put my step work in there. 

I have used many types of notebooks. At one especially stupid moment, I even paid $50 for a special two page per day planner. The problem? I needed five or six pages per day, and regular notebooks are much cheaper.

Thankfully, due to the chaos and flow of life, I do not have all of my recovery notebooks. Those things just don’t stand up to the test of time. Flooding took the first 4 years worth. The garbage truck took several of them. I personally burn the older ones now. I no longer need the notes from a meeting from 10 years ago.

What do I keep in a recovery notebook? What system do I use? I keep almost everything in my recovery notebook. I have been bullet journaling for 4 years now. In putting my life down on paper, I can see in black and white, or vivid color those areas of my life that need more attention.

So, now for the journal porn. I’ve gone through and looked at the photos of my journals. I’m including several here, along with a description. 

My favorite journal cover. The walmart 67 cent notebooks fit perfectly inside. 

An example of one of my habit trackers. It isn’t as inclusive as it is today.

I put my daily routines in my notebooks, as well as quite a few brain dumps. I miss this notebook the most. I loved those eccolo notebooks.

An example of the monthly spread. I made sure to schedule my meetings first.

Above you will find a weekly spread from my bujo. This one is simple enough for me.

This was a daily spread I used for quite some time. Included is so much of the daily homework. 

This was a daily emotions tracker I tried early on.

Another version of a daily spread. I couldn’t find my markers that day, so crayons had to do.

Here the daily spread evolved to add a ‘tada’ list. That’s a list of things I didn’t think I could do, but I did get done all by myself.

An early meal tracker.

An example of a pain tracker.

And lastly, another example of a daily tracker. The ruler I use is a log book template I bought at a truck stop back when I went to trucking school.
So that’s it. I hope this essay and photos help you a bit. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at