I’m sick today. I have developed a cold. It has given me the opportunity to stay home from work today and focus on recovery. Last night I also went to an AA meeting. I have only been to a handful of AA meetings since I got sober, and while I attribute some of their teachings to helping me get sober, I haven’t yet been sold on the program.
I have mentioned before that one of the things that got me sober this time was the concept of surrender. Acceptance and surrender. Which I believe is like the 1st step. And I would be lying if I said that I haven’t been relying partially on a power greater than myself in this process of recovery- which aligns with the 2nd and 3rd step. So, somehow, those 3 steps have been a part of getting me sober, along with sober blogs, Refuge Recovery, and other books/material. This combination of things have helped me get to 76 days sober, and I am truly grateful for all of these modalities.
The first 3-4 weeks were really hard, and then things started getting easier and better. It’s like the honeymoon period that e12p wrote about today. It’s when the fog of addiction starts to lift and your world gets a lot brighter. The possibility of sobriety starts to reveal itself. You wake up hangover free day after day and the world gets a certain sheen to it as you realize that you are not chained to a miserable substance any longer. You start making plans. It’s exciting.
Then, as e12p also wrote about, things shift again. You are still in the same life, day by day, doing much of the same things. You’ve removed the alcohol- which is awesome- but you realize that you are still here! Your mind is still here. Some of the same thoughts and feelings still exist. You’re still you, just sans booze.
If you’re anything like me, you are left a bit wanting. What now? What’s next? This can’t be it. As I wrote about in my last post, I was starting to feel a bit blue. I am now faced with my problems and I am now choosing not to numb them out, like I have done pretty much every night for a very long time. I was a heavy daily drinker for over 12 years, and a weekend binger for much longer than that. I have been plying myself with booze, on a consistent basis, and sometimes drugs, for over 25 years. While I like to think that I am a well-adjusted person, I only need to look at this fact to realize that I’ve been managing my emotions through substances and therefore haven’t really learned how to process them.
I went to a meeting last night because I had the feeling that I need to grow more. I was feeling tired (now I realize I was getting sick but at the time I didn’t know) and stuck. I wrote before about a void or emptiness in me, and it’s been on my mind that a way I could feel more whole would be to deepen a spiritual connection. When I am in nature sometimes, I feel a sort of love that seems spiritual to me. I feel connected to something much greater than myself, and in turn this makes me feel full. I’ve always been interested in spirituality, but I’ve never really allowed myself to follow a path. I have studied yoga, which I think is a spiritual path, but have been quite on and off (mostly due to my drinking). I’ve always had questions about the purpose of life, the existence of a higher power and why we are here. I was in a relationship in my early 20’s that was a bit emotionally abusive, and he used to mock me whenever I mentioned anything with a spiritual element, so I think I learned to suppress this side of me. Through the last couple of months of sobriety, I’ve come to accept that I am a spiritual person. I don’t understand how it works, but I truly feel that part of how I got sober this time around is because I surrendered control to some kind of higher power. I know that drinking alcohol is not in my best interest, actually it is a complete detriment to me, and I gave it up so that the force of life that moves around and through us could work in a more positive way for me.
I believe that the life force- whatever creates consciousness and keeps our hearts beating and birds flying and the oceans moving- is all about sustaining life and growth. The body, through it’s own magic, never stops doing the things it needs to do to keep us alive and in balance. Amazingly, the body, just like the earth, will not only maintain life, but try to heal itself. THAT is the power that is greater than me. Alcohol, for me, was like a poison to this already perfect but susceptible system. I had to stop poisoning myself so that my body (as well as my mind and soul) can heal and continue on the path of growth and development.
I am developing a deep respect for this process of letting go of things. Yes, it’s a little bit painful right now- kind of like growing pains- but I am curious to discover what else I am making room for. I have heard other people say that they are grateful to be an addict because of the gifts found within recovery. I think I understand what they mean. The beauty of recovery is not only in the overcoming of something that leads to a greater sense of strength, confidence and self-worth, but also the space that it creates for a much more meaningful life. When you let go of something painful, it opens up room for the growth of something much more positive. In recovery, if I want it, I get to find a way to resolve and clear out old traumas, fears, and pain, connect to my purpose, and live. I am free to find and follow my path.
All that energy that was stuck and stagnant in the cycle of drinking can move more freely now. I guess the thing now is to figure out in which way to direct it. Whether it comes through working the steps in AA, or continuing with a Buddhist perspective on recovery, delving more deeply into yoga again, or a combination of all and more, I’m pretty sure that working on my spiritual life will be a part of my future. And, I am excited!