by Sean V.
Every day my inventory is searching and fearless. Progress not perfection though, as some days it is more difficult to look within at something that is particularly nasty to witness. Coming to terms with yesterday to make today beautiful. If I don’t feed my recovery it dies. If I don’t give it away I cannot keep it. I’m not always right and I am OK with that today. Bottom line is this: be kind to yourself and you’ll have the ability to be kind to others.
One day at a time.
Reprinted from In Recovery with kind permission of the author. Sean has an Associate’s degree in Human Services from Tacoma Community College and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia. He is interested in finding a deep meaning in life and cultivating compassionate mindfulness in all of his affairs. Read more of Sean’s work here.
A surefire way to maintain your addiction is to keep feeding it. In recovery, we need to put at least as much energy and effort into feeding our recovery as we did into feeding our addiction. This means setting up a lifestyle that encourages you every day, with the support you need to stay on course and keep your recovery alive and well. Some call this “Building a Recovery Plan.” Your Recovery Plan should include physical self-care, emotional/spiritual self-care, and social self-care. Read “9 Steps to Building a Self-Care Plan in Recovery” and let us know in the comments how you’re planning to feed your recovery this week!
Have you heard the Cherokee Legend about the two wolves? Take a listen to it here, along with some excellent motivation to support you in feeding your good wolf: your recovery.
by Jon W. (Sullivan 2003)
There is an old expression about things needing to be hard to be worth it. I’m pretty sure I don’t believe it. I’ve discovered, in sobriety, that life can be pretty simple and straight-forward, if I’ll just get out of my own way.
However, the rubbing together of two conflicting states – addiction and sobriety – creates a friction that can be very challenging indeed. One called me back to a former pain – a return to the scene of the crime, as it were; while the other – sobriety – challenged me to experience the joy, accomplishment and freedom that always felt so foreign. As I progressed in my recovery, the friction lessened as I embraced my new life, but the challenge is to always remember the misery of my former addictive state, especially on the days when things go wrong and I want to blame myself and hide.
As I face that job of believing in myself, of opening my heart to others and of accepting love and abundance into my life at last, it’s important to my recovery for that task to be challenging. It must require my attention and my diligent effort, lest I take it for granted.
I relapsed in 1997 for that reason. I took my eye off the ball and believed I was safe – and I was – until divorce, a painful new love and the disruption of every single routine in my life left me on the ropes, struggling for breath. I won’t make that mistake again.
The prize is before me and I must want it more than anything. I will not make it by merely gritting my teeth nor through sheer force of will. I must work to create a life so beautiful that tossing it aside for the illusion of temporary relief is ridiculous and unthinkable. I must challenge myself every day to my best place and ask for all the help I may need to get there. I must remember that sobriety is my natural state, the one in which I came to this planet. It is my birthright; I am not creating sobriety, but returning to it. Plato said that “learning is remembering”. I’ve spent lots of time with five-year-olds to remind me of who I really am.
I draw into my life others who are a reflection of what I believe about myself. The challenge is not so much to just change my landscape (the so-called “geographical cure”), as it is to change my inner beliefs about myself and then to see the world through different eyes. The world changes when I do. The challenge in sobriety is to take control of my own life while letting go of any illusion I might have that I am actually in control of anything or anyone else. It comes as a huge relief to know this. I know I felt a lot better when I realized I was not the Boss of the Universe. Interestingly, the ass-kicking the Universe was giving me abruptly stopped around the same time.
I embrace the challenges sobriety brings. It hones me and my intention to stay happy and fulfilled. Sobriety is the steel upon which I sharpen my sword of Personal Truth. The friction of this helps keep me on my toes, facing forward and being who I truly am. It whittles away at the memories of the past and fashions within me the knowledge that I am a good man, living in a good world of my own creation. And that I am blessed.
A gem from the TGIF vault, originally published on November 4, 2011.
by Maryel McKinley, PhD
When we get sober, it is as though we have literally stepped out of the darkness and into the light. Our lives were full of misery, loneliness and despair. But by the grace of God we were able to have a glimpse of hope, as a lit match lightens a dark room.
It is important for alcoholics to remember “how it was”. That is why we hear other alcoholics share about their “war stories”. It is not to brag, or gain pity, but to help themselves and others remember “how it was” so we will never have to go back to that dark, desolate and painful place of hopeless addiction.
However, it is equally important to follow thoughts of “how it was” with thoughts of gratitude for the miracles that take place each day we are sober. No matter what happens, we have had a successful day if we have stayed sober.
Remember, quality sobriety is available for everyone. We don’t have to be controlled by events in our lives that appear harmful or negative. People, places and situations do not have the power to control our mood or behaviour. Nonetheless, if we perceive these outside enigmas to have power over us, then they have actually become our Higher Power. This inevitably brings relapse.
When we get out of the problem and into the solution, we move forward in recovery. When we stay stuck, we move backwards. We either have one foot in recovery or one foot in relapse. It is up to us how we choose to react or take action.
We are learning that life on life’s terms is about perspective. We ask God for the power to change the things we can. Attitude is one of those things we have the power to change. We can simply choose to change our old way of looking at things – to cast aside our old ideas and replace them with what Chuck C. called a “new pair of glasses”. This is solution-oriented living.
There is a huge difference between just staying sober and having a sober life that is happy, joyous and free like the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous promises. Yet in order to receive the promises we need to take action, as outlined in the Big Book. It is our compass and an instruction manual for living.
In taking action and staying in the solution no matter how we may feel, God will bring us results that are usually far grander than anything we could manipulate for ourselves even on our best day!
We will indeed receive a psychic change that is necessary for true sobriety to occur. Fear shall leave us. We will learn to walk through fear and see the positive in every experience. It takes a great deal of faith to know in your heart that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake and that everything happens for a reason. We need only accept what is happening, and then we can have the clarity to see the truth behind it.
What we would formerly call a tragedy, we can now see as a learning experience or even a preface to a miracle. The Big Book says that “we will no longer regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”. Our past is the greatest asset we can have, as our experience, strength and hope may actually save someone else’s life.
Many of us have been in this program long enough to witness many miracles and positive changes in our own lives and in the lives of hundreds of other fellow alcoholics/addicts. Sadly, we may have also witnessed the tragic consequences that happen to those who chose to leave five minutes before the miracle. Too many of our fellows have died of this disease.
My hope for you is that you will keep coming back, and by doing so you will become a part of the solution. When you have what seems to be a problem, don’t focus on the problem. What we resist, persists. Rather, turn it over to the God of your personal understanding and take action. Try to see the light instead of the darkness, even if it is just a small flicker. Allow the sleeping beauty within you to be awakened by the sweet kiss of faith, hope and courage.
Don’t give up. Many times when I have thought sobriety was useless and that I should give up, by some miracle I chose to stay solution-oriented and went into prayer and service. Sure enough, every single time I seem to be at the darkest point of my life, a fabulous event soon occurs. This is what it means to stay in the solution no matter how bleak things get. As time goes by and as you exercise solution-oriented living, it becomes easier to accept life’s greatest challenges.
I find myself thanking God when so called “trouble” comes, because I know from experience that a huge blessing or gift from God will arise from what appears on the surface to be a tragedy. An attitude of gratitude is the strongest ally I have in my box of recovery tools against depression and negative thinking.
True sobriety occurs when we stay out of the problem and get into the solution. Try it. Watch others try it. You’ll be amazed, It really works!