Sometimes I get messages from people who don’t know how to take the first step toward quitting drinking. I tell them that I didn’t do anything miraculous, I just quit and did whatever I had to do to keep it that way. Still, a lot of times they don’t buy it or still don’t believe they are ready. That’s fair, but I put together a highlight reel of all of the mundane things I did to get and stay sober. Since I don’t follow a traditional recovery program, I wrote a bit about my “pillars” of recovery. Your recovery doesn’t have to look like mine, in fact I think it should be a reflection of you. Recovery isn’t one size fits all, and don’t let anyone make you feel that you’re doing it wrong. So here’s what my recovery relies on if it helps:
Meditation and mindfulness practice: my deepest fear is being alone (Libra). I cling to relationships sometimes for the sole reason that I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts. This is why developing a meditation practice has been so helpful for my recovery and overall mental health. Learning to sit with difficult emotions is a skill we really need to be teaching people as kids. It’s an essential life skill that I’m not sure how I survived without for 30 years (I mean, I can point to quite a few personal disasters that were probably at least somewhat caused by my inability to do this...
Relationships that ground me: spending time with my daughter, my husband, my good friends and my family reminds me of what is truly important to my life and my happiness. Their opinions are the only ones I really care about.
Sober community: I owe everything to my network of sober friends. I’ve met many of them online or through my recovery program, but I honestly don’t know what I would do without my people to check in, celebrate and cry with me. They’re everything.
An inclusive recovery program: not all recovery programs are created equally and I quickly found that I needed one that had women and minorities in mind. I found @jointempest in early sobriety and participated in Tempest Sobriety School (formerly Hip Sobriety School) starting at 60 days sober. It was integral to my recovery, helping me work through past trauma that kept me stuck in destructive patterns and learn new, healthier coping mechanisms.
Art (poetry, music, visual art): For me to have a high quality of life, I need to feel inspired on a daily basis. Whether it’s reading Mary Oliver or Nayyirah Waheed, listening to Leonard Cohen, or walking through the modern gallery of the Nelson-Atkins, I surround myself with art because it helps me make sense of the world (again, Libra). I also recently realized that the times in my life that I’ve experienced the most creativity in my artistic endeavors have been when I wasn’t drinking.
Spirituality/God: this has been the most difficult piece of the puzzle for me. I have a strong aversion to most organized religion (except crunchy reform and reconstructionist Jewish congregations, that’s my jam). So when I got to step 2 of the 12 steps, I read the description and immediately broke up with my sponsor and bolted. However, after spending months practicing meditation and developing gratitude (accidentally lol), I suddenly found myself open to things like prayer and a higher power, seeing that it doesn’t have to be dogmatic (and it really can’t be for me). My concept of God is just a presence of love and acceptance, one that transcends gender and any other social constructs people traditionally try to attach to deities. I don’t believe in sin or an afterlife, I just believe in love.
So for me, that’s what is at the heart of my recovery. Hope it was helpful especially if you’re searching for a way out of this addiction thing.