sick, but free.

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!

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28 thoughts on “sick, but free.

  1. Well said Lee…all of it. Growth is the deal. We remove booze and then…what? That’s the dilemma many newly sober (and not so newly sober) folks meet. What will become of me? I will be like that hole in the donut! But God abhors a vacuum. Things fill that space. We get to decide what goes there, in some ways. Growth is a great one. Early recovery ain’t easy, but we get through it, and we start to see things, learn things, feel things…like you are here.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Thanks Paul, as always your insight is so much appreciated. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. Keep working at it and it will all come together. As an addict, I haven’t been very good at being patient! Instant gratification has been the way of life so this is all different now. Best to you!

  2. Good job on parsing your thoughts and expressing them so… well, clearly. Heh.

    Anyway, I believe one of the keys to additional recovery for you will be recognizing the specific identity of your Higher Power. There is indeed a specific rhyme and rhythm to this whole thing,; because I am a relational creature it stands to reason in my admittedly limited way of thinking that my Higher Power would be relational, as well. I can’t be anything that my Higher Power is not because my Higher Power has created everything that ever was. My Higher Power exists to do more than simply make sure I don’t drink again.

    I love to unwind on stuff like this. Life is so much bigger than we ever suspected.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Greg! I am still wrapping my head around it all. it’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to think through all of this stuff now with a *clear* mind 😉 Usually most of my conversations about God and the universe were done drunk and/or high! No wonder I didn’t get too far…

  3. Reblogged this on club east: indianapolis and commented:
    “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.”

  4. Pingback: repost: sick, but free | club east: indianapolis

  5. Beautifully written, yet again 🙂 My Higher Power (as I understand it) is within me…within you…within nature. It’s the strong inner voice that is telling me I am meant for more. And I have to remove drugs and alcohol to become everything I am meant to be in this lifetime. What’s next is whatever you want it to be, my friend! The possibilities are endless. Glad the dark cloud is lifting. XO.

  6. I tried to write a post on my higher power today too. Odd.
    It was too hard. I believe my higher power is me. The self. The divine spark that is in all of us.

    Yoga, Buddhism and Catholicism all meet in my thinking. The book the shack was unbelievably enlightening for me.

    It’s hard to explain. But I agree, recovery open our eyes to bigger possibilities.

    • Hey you 🙂 That is odd! Something in the air… I love what you say- the divine spark in all of us. Awesome. i haven’t read the Shack… will have to check it out. Who is the author? xo

      • William young. It was popular a few years ago and I beloved Forrest Whittaker was going to make a movie of it at one time…

        I owned it for years, never reading it. Then it was recommended to hubby in treatment, so I read it too. I guess it was just waiting for the right time.

    • I found surrendering to give me a bit of a peaceful feeling, like the fight was finally over. That didn’t last forever but I keep reminding myself of it and it helps. Hope you’re doing okay! 🙂

  7. ‘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’ Love this and completely agree 🙂

  8. I am using a combination of recovery tools. I like the human contact of AA. I struggle with the “God” stuff, so I go to AA Agnostica. One of my old timers has spoken about Native American beliefs as his higher power, so I read a lot about that.
    My favorite tool so far has been the God Box that my sponsor suggested. It is the same as letting go. Write it on a piece of paper, put it in the box, and give it to your HP to handle. It actually works! I am of the mind to do whatever it takes to keep me sober, and working on being a better me.
    You are doing great!

    • I totally get what you are saying. I struggle with the heavy reliance on “God” in AA too, also some of the language. But at the same time, I do believe in a HP so a lot of it fits too.
      I adore Indigenous beliefs and world views! I’ve read a lot about our First Nations Peoples in Canada. I think I like their views because they are so connected to nature and the earth.
      I remember you mentioned the God Box before- I have to try it. I really need to let some stuff go that is holding me back and blocking me. Thanks for the suggestion! xo

  9. Hi there! I have just found your blog and I loved it. You are at the same number of days as me, so that is cool! I could feel SO connected to you, your space feels similar to me. i have copied and pasted this, i LOVE IT…….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.
    TOTALLY GORGEOUS.
    Lisa

    http://www.thecword-compassion.com

    • Hey Lisa! Thanks for commenting. So cool that we are at the same day count! I went on to your blog but can’t seem to find a way to follow it- any suggestions?
      Be well!

  10. gotta raise my hand as another big fan of the god box. that concept of step 3 was so hard for me, an atheist (well, at the time), and the physical action of writing and then giving whatever it was away by putting it into a box (and closing the damn lid!) was so helpful to me.
    I don’t know why your post don’t appear in my email, i am going to follow again and hope that changes…great posts, great insight.
    I am interested in the refuge recovery too…it started here in SCAL and I may get to a meeting. There is a great book called The buddhist way through The 12 Steps..something like that, that was really helpful to me also…in a little while i’ll go look for it and post the actual name and author. Anyway….the point being that the whole AA concept of god stuck in my craw a bit, but i did do the steps and found them very helpful. I love meetings and still go and i sponsor people too…it’s all good for me, NOW. However, I now understand the concept of Higher power..and I find that very different from the traditional god that i felt was being shoved down my throat.
    Anyway…hopefully I will be more up to date on your posts soon…good stuff here, good work.

    • Hi Mished Up 🙂 thanks for coming by. I am going to give the god box a try. It’s funny because when I think about it I panic a bit thinking I’m not ready to let some things go… so that’s interesting. I guess I need to figure that out.
      Yes, check out Refuge, I’ll bet the meetings in SoCal are quite good as it’s been going there for a while. The one here just started up. I know the other book you’re talking about too, I have it and have read some of it. It’s good too. I’ll read anything I can get my hands on! I just finished Tommy Rosen’s book Recovery 2.0-
      http://www.amazon.com/RECOVERY-2-0-Beyond-Addiction-Upgrade/dp/1401944485
      it’s about building on the 12 steps with yoga, meditation, and diet. It’s really good and has really pushed me to think more about doing the steps. He is down in SoCAl too- Venice Beach I think. You’re Lucky! I wished I lived down there, so many great teachers.
      Thanks again for your comment, I appreciate it!

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