Staying Sober When Life Gets Hard

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Staying Sober When Life Gets Hard

When I first got sober, I remember gravitating towards the women that would share their stories, of trudging through pain in recovery, and never picking up a drink or a drug. It was such a foreign concept to me, one that I admired. I heard stories of deaths to stories of families falling apart despite these women and their valiant efforts to leave their old lifestyles behind. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that not everything plays out perfectly because we decide to get sober. Amends fall on deaf ears, friends can’t stay sober, and I ultimately have to walk through the wreckage of our past. In other words, life continues to show up. In two years, I have learned that all of the principles we learn, in early recovery, must be applied to our lives every single day.

 

Surrender

I would cringe every time I heard this word. I naturally had this misconception that to surrender was a sign of weakness. My distaste for authoritative figures and ideas played a major role in my prejudice against this concept. It was quite the contrary, and I would learn the hard way. I was convinced that I wasn’t the real addict. Surrounded by addicts whose experience was far different from mine, I immediately separated myself as “different than”. I’m not like them.prescribed opiates, I needed them. My jaded thought process ultimately led to my relapse. I thought I could “drink like a lady” and this defiance catapulted me right back into full-blown addiction. It wasn’t until I surrendered to the idea that I was no different from the next addict, that I got to taste the blissful promises of recovery. In order to be freed from addiction (or the bondage of my indisposed thoughts) I have to completely surrender to a new way of life.

 

Acceptance

When I look back at the last two years of my life and the lives of those that journey down the road of recovery, I see how much more pleasant the outcome is when I accept people,places, and things exactly as they are. For years I thought if the people in my life would conduct themselves the way I saw fit, things would go much smoother. Perhaps everyone else was not the problem, but I was. Learning to practice acceptance in my daily affairs has only proven to be successful when it follows suite to surrender. At least once a day, I encounter a situation that doesn’t align with my plan of action. When I refuse to accept things as they are, chaos ensues. From the aggressive drivers on my commute to work to the unplanned cancer diagnosis of a family member, there’s an overwhelming weight and stress lifted when I accept the outcome of any and all circumstances looming over me.

 

Meditation

Coming from a multitude of different backgrounds, this concept is easily the most misconstrued. When someone would give the suggestion I meditate, I imagined Buddha in the Lotus Position entering into some hypnotic trance. I think it wouldn’t be a far off guess to suggest that this is the image comes to mind for most addicts in early recovery. Coming from the idea of this “punishing God”, that was the last avenue I wanted to venture down. When I first went into treatment we started with the basics of practicing mindfulness, guided meditations tapes, which ultimately led to 5-10 minutes of silent meditation. This is a practice I utilize daily. Taking time to quiet the noise and calm the chaos, meditation has become a huge component of my daily routine. It’s so easy to get caught up in the painful memories of the past and obsess over the anxieties of the future. Meditation has set the tone for being present and slowing down to think before I react. Before I make any major decision, I always take time to pray and wait quietly for a response. Thus far, I’ve found myself practicing patience, being mindful of how I may affect others, and avoiding an abundance of unnecessary pain.

 

Discipline and Action

If anyone were to ask me the definition of discipline I would tell them it was synonymous with punishment. My sponsor suggested I look up the definition and find one that didn’t sound so harsh. My favorite definition is to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way. For as long as I can remember, I indulged in the most unhealthy habits which ultimately led to my own demise. It brought me great relief to hear that with discipline I could have control over my own actions. This shifted my hopeless thinking into practical and positive application. On days when I can’t make a meeting with two kids, I listen to a sermon or I pick up the phone and call another alcoholic. I have created my own schedule and boundaries to reconstruct an entirely different perspective. Discipline requires action, therefore I’m forced to gracefully walk through the things I fear the most.