There are so many people and things that have helped me along the road to recovery. The people I have to thank for their love and support are numerous and they know who they are, because I’ve made it my business to keep them close and show my gratitude to them often. But today I thought I’d write about some of the things that have helped me stay sober. Of course there are times when we all falter and days that we feel like giving up, but when these days sneak up on us or pounce unexpectedly from the shadows, what do we do? It’s wildly idealistic as a person dealing with a substance abuse disorder, even in long-term recovery to believe that nothing is ever going to throw us off course. Actually, it’s downright arrogant and this along with complacency about our disorders can be our downfall, not matter how many hours, days, weeks and years we’ve been clean.
I’m ever mindful of the fact that I really really like to drink! It might be under control at the moment, sleeping quietly in a corner, but given half a chance I know that it would be front and centre of my life again and that is never something that I want to happen. So over the last years I’ve spent plenty of time learning about my disorder so that I am aware and educated about the different elements of being addicted to something (anything). I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it here again, I am not my disorder. There is so much more to me than the unfortunate fact that I tend to drink too much once I get started, but I cannot simply ignore that this is part of me, because then I start to slip into the realms of denial and that’s a one way ticket to “Relapse City”.
One of the practices I have adopted over the past years is to focus on my personal development. There are a myriad of ways of doing this, and there is no right or wrong answer to what works and what doesn’t. In that respect it’s a lot like choosing how to approach your recovery, there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. And research, although not definitive in this area, is giving more heed to the idea that it is possibly a combination of recovery ideas that may work best for each individual.
The way I have chosen to develop myself personally is to focus on how to deepen my esoteric understanding of the world and myself. As I am not a religious person, I grappled horribly with the ideas of having a higher power and being powerless over my recovery. But as I progressed through the early part of my recovery I began to understand that I needed to find peace within myself and in relation to the outside world if I was going to get my life under control. Being an avid reader and a person who is constantly in search of knowledge I turned to one of my greatest loves, the written word. And where I’d found pleasure in thousands of pages of fiction over the years, I began to find peace and understanding as I delved into the works of the modern-day spiritual masters.
There really is no other name for them, and I am not trying to upset anyone’s religious sensibilities. “The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle was a philosophical awakening for me. The ideas and practices on the pages have brought me great comfort over the years since I opened the book for the first time in the very early days of my abstinence. I am by no means an expert on living in the present moment, but I definitely try and embrace it on a daily basis. The truth is that living in the now, letting go of the past and not fretting about the future is a place of immense stillness and calm. I have read this book more thanonce and it is always next to my bed, so that I can pick it up and use it to bring myself into the present moment.
This is by not only book I have read on the subject, and Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer & Brene Browns’ books are all stored on my Kindle so that they are always within easy access. I also have some of their works in audio format, so that I can listen to them when I am traveling or just need to detach from what’s going on in the world around me and take some time to focus on me. I’ve never managed to embrace the art of meditation personally, but listening to them discuss their ideas or read from the pages of their books is exceptionally soothing and meditative in its own way. I think that spending time focusing on our self-development is an essential part of sustained sobriety and long-term recovery.
In the early stages of the journey we begin to mend physically. Then we begin to heal emotionally. But is is also hugely important to rejuvenate our inner selves. For me this is where we begin to rebuild our feelings of self-worth and personal poise. Where we reestablish our place in the world and begin to determine our purpose once again. It’s a slow, focused process to bolster our spirit back to a place where we feel that we are once again a worthy, contributory member of society. I honestly believe that if I hadn’t concentrated on this element my life wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling as it is right now. I’m not saying I have all the answers, that I live in constant balance and harmony, or that I am always blissfully happy, but I am a long way from where I was almost seven years ago!
I have confessed in my posts more than once that there are times that I wander through the day in a haze of confused emotions, but I am self-actualised enough through my reading and intellectual discoveries to appreciate what I am going through. To use the practices I have learned to bring myself back to the present moment, if only briefly sometimes. To embrace the fact that it is okay to be vulnerable and scared at times, and not panic because I don’t feel like I am completely in control every minute of the day. I am after all just a regular woman, not a spiritual master. I have flaws, imperfections and fears, but I’ve come to realise and appreciate that that’s okay and the more I bring these parts of self towards me rather than trying to evict them from my life, the more balance, peace and present-moment focus there is on a daily basis. After all life is better with a clear head and an honest heart.