Life Happens!

While I had a clear vision for my next few posts, life happened, like it always does when you think you have a straight path forward. Although in this world of sobriety, the detours of life can sometimes seem overwhelming. Often you will hear (not just addicts saying) “I tried to make time for that, but this week got too hectic.” Well, if you wait for a break in the chaos storm that IS life, you will never quit drinking. Take this week for example

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If you wait for a break in the storm to set sail, you forgo dreams of foreign shores. - Danielle Ciesielski

A human-caused fire that scorched the size of four Disneyland parks, just south of the Grand Canyon, in Northern Arizona might not have dominated your 5 o’clock news, it did, however, provide much unrest for myself and countless another resident of this rural dot on the map. Early afternoon, it became clear something was amiss when ominous black plumes of smoke billowed up through the dry landscape, casting shadows on the trees below.

Half a mile away from my parent’s home, the fire raged on throughout the better part of the day. The sheriff was telling us to pack our valuables and leave, but how in the world do you even begin to look at your belongings, inventory, and compare level of importance of these; sentimentally irreplaceable things over tangible values?

-and then it hit me! One huge thing every addict faces when trying to get clean and remain clean…

STRESS!

We all have it, it’s part of life. That’s why I don’t say “shit happens” anymore…because it isn’t ALL shit. It’s life; good and bad. When you use the stress as an excuse for your addiction, you clearly are only focusing on the negative.

I could have easily given up my 1 year sober on Monday, using the guise of stress and pressure because of what bad things did happen and how they could have been worse. People every single day trying to quit some sort of addiction know, that’s as good an excuse as any. Notice I chose the word excuse, and not reason.

Really, there is no good “reason” to fall back into addiction. They are usually more of excuses we build up in our minds, I’m not excluding myself from this, that are more mental barriers than anything else. It took time to retrain myself not to focus on the bad.

So, on Monday, I rejoiced in the fact that the roof over our head is our own, that we are here together, with our pets, that none of our friends were injured or killed. I celebrated the people who came to our aid, who lent a helping hand without question.

You choose what you focus on and how it affects you. Deep down, if you really let it, stress can be the demise of all things good; careers, relationships, even your own health.

DO NOT LET IT BE THE END OF YOU!!

Here are some “Don’t”s and even more important “Do’s” to remember and revisit when that overwhelm creeps back in…because that stress isn’t going anywhere.

  • DON’T hold on to the “if’s”- they are usually followed by the, ‘wish I could-s’, and the ‘like I used too-s’. Alcohol addiction is a lot like that bad relationship you couldn’t wait to get out of. Once you are out, and away for a while, you begin to look back at the good times, forgetting the long nights of over emotional crying, blacking out, hungover mornings, bad decisions, and possibly jail time.
  • DON’T close yourself to new outlets- let’s face it, drinking as a coping mechanism didn’t work, that’s clear. Don’t look for new habits, but new outlets to explore that are healthy and beneficial to your mental wellbeing.
  • DON’T be afraid to ask for help- smoke starts seeping from under your hood, and your car creeps to a stop on the side of the road; you have no idea what’s wrong. Do you sit and troubleshoot the motor issues with absolutely no knowledge of how it works? Probably not. So why are you trying to self-diagnose, and cope with the problems that led you to alcoholism? Don’t be afraid to ask for help in dealing with the underlying issues of addiction, many of these people went into this field specifically to help people like us.

DO!!!!!feel free to revisit this list

  • DO practice the self-love touched on previously this will help you in many other aspects of your life and you will start to see the results in yourself, which is where it really counts.
  • DO find a new outlet- draw, paint, do yoga, hike, meditate, some type of hobby that will help you process some of this excess anxiety you feel ( exercise or yoga ) or something to let you express what you feel you can’t verbalize (paint, dance, build), if nothing else you acquire a new skill. Although, it’s far more likely you will find something that provides you with some sort of calm, resolves or sense of accomplishment that really feels like it’s own drug. You begin to strive for those high’s in life.
  • DO surround yourself with positive support - it seems fundamental, but it’s amazing what positive reinforcement can do, even just being near it. Some days, my friends, I guarantee you will not feel good, worth it, or like you want to continue this sober journey, and it’s on these days, where your support system will be the last leg to stand on when you feel like you can’t do it alone. Even if it’s two people, they would rather you call them DAILY if it helps you quit than turn back to a bottle.
  • DO set short, mid, and long-term goals- set some daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals and annual goals. Write it down, and seriously keep track and write down your progress. You will be surprised at how much you DO, do and that is powerful incentive to keep reaching for bigger things.

If you keep turning to the same old thing, you will get the same old results.

Good riddance to the same 2+2=4!

Instead start playing with 0+4, or 1+3. Let’s plug in some different factors and still try for the same happy result. Minus alcohol in every equation, you are already starting with a positive result.

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