“The good news is, now that you’re sober you’ll start to have feelings. The bad news is, you’ll start to have feelings.”
I will never forget these words that my first sponsor spoke to me the day I met her. I was 72 hours sober and sitting quietly and fearfully in the back of the room. While we don’t all choose AA to recover, we do all get to choose how we deal with our feelings sans alcohol. No one ever told me this would be the hardest part.
How was I supposed to deal with sadness? Anxiety? Overwhelm? Those dreaded panic attacks? Oh and don’t even get me started on the ex husband. What was I going to do after a hard days work? Kids that don’t listen? Then a good day deserves a celebratory drink also, amiright?! The Titos bottle is what made everything better, helped me sleep at night and kept me going. The panic slowed when I was drinking. The ex husband...what ex husband?! A hard days work and out of control kids slowly faded into the background with that first delightful sip. Pretty soon nothing else mattered. And repeat. Day after day; year after year until I just couldn’t go on. After 15 plus years of drinking, death was inevitable and while I didn’t want to die I didn’t want to go on like this anymore either.
Alcoholic addicts don’t choose to drink because we are living our best lives. We drink so that we don’t have to deal with the hard stuff called life and we do our damndest to avoid all reality. As we learn however, covering up real life feelings with drugs and alcohol just leads to bigger life problems.
Honestly, addiction isn’t even about alcohol and drugs at all. It is the absence of self, a hole in your soul. Recovery starts with healing the parts of yourself that you’ve been at war with for so long. It is about loving yourself enough to do the hard work day after day for the rest of your life. Your recovery MUST come first so that everything else in life that you love doesn’t come last.
First things first...find a tribe! Whether it’s a recovery program such as AA, a local group, a sponsor, a Facebook group such as this...whatever it is, FIND IT and rely on those people to help you. When I say no one will judge you, I promise that is the truth. We all have a story that we aren’t proud of, no ones is worse than the others. You belong here and deserve the happiness that recovery brings! The first days are so damn hard and you can’t do it alone - lean on your people, let them love you even when you don’t love yourself!
Start a new routine. Meditate each morning and every night. Start with just a few minutes a day and work up to full meditations. Finding yourself and your own breath is so very important. Get in your head and your heart and learn to heal from the inside out!
Find good, therapeutic grade essential oils. Addiction starts because of feelings or lack thereof. We need to feel good and using essential oils as part of our daily routine and meditation practice will help our overall mental, emotional and physical healing. We are addicts in recovery trying to remove all the chemicals from our bodies. An all around chemical free life is the best life to live.
Talk to a therapist. While you might not need a therapist forever, one in the initial stages of recovery can really help you learn about yourself. Learn why you are putting up those walls. Why you feel you aren’t worthy of love and affection. Honestly, when I first got sober over four years ago, I thought I knew why I needed to drink and what was causing it...boy was I wrong. I learned so much about myself and found emotions and feelings I had been blocking out for years. Once I was able to let those go, I was able to feel more freely. Truth be told, I still see my therapist once a month because who doesn’t love just blurting it all out to someone who isn’t going to judge you and is just there to listen?
Finally, have grace on yourself. We aren’t perfect humans, there is no such thing; perfect doesn’t exist. Strive daily for progress, not perfection and if you fall, get that booty back up and start again girlfriend.
Recovery IS worth it. You ARE worth it. A sober life IS the best life. Go live yours my FRIEND!
Authors - Various