Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.
|Published 03/16/2017 at 8:45 p.m. – Day 151 of Treatment|
I am 53 and for the first time in my life I am in extended recovery from alcoholism. Although I was sober for 3 months once, I have never actually been in recovery.
I just passed my 10th month sobriety/recovery! And, although I have had many challenges during this time, I have learned 4 major concepts that have instrumental in keeping me a clean and sober man today. Dare I say, these 4 things may also be a helpful roadmap to any of you who might be suffering in one way or another.
Faith–“complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” I’m not going to sit here and tell you me and my Higher Powers are having lunch everyday. Yes, I said Powers. It’s plural because I have complete trust and confidence in several entities. My Higher Powers take many forms. The important thing is that when life is punching me in the face, because I believe in something greater than myself, I am able to take the hits and keep moving forward.
Gratitude–“the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I have learned that being grateful for the little things can add up to great things.
Appreciating what I have, instead of whining about what I don’t have. Reaching out to others in acts of service or kindness is deeply fulfilling and gives me a sense of gratitude. Seeing the good in people and in life is a major shift in my way of thinking. Practicing this has had a great impact on my daily attitude as well.
Mindfulness–“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” There was another, more fancy definition, but this will suffice. Mindfulness has completely changed my life. I can’t emphasize this enough.
I have learned to be in the moment, to live in what Eckhart Tolle has written in his powerful book “The Power of Now.” When I am able to practice this successfully, I can simply observe myself being myself, and make adjustments accordingly. I used to let my emotions and feelings rule the day. Each day I am getting better at just being in the now and operating my life from a position of strength.
Acceptance–“assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest.” A cornerstone to the famous “Serenity Prayer.”
I have learned to simply live life on life’s terms, come what may. I can also accept people, places, and things that may not be desirable or agreeable to me, and I can be ok with that. I used to whine and complain about everything, because it wasn’t for or about me. I am learning how to sit with Acceptance and simply be ok. I can also let you simply be. And that’s ok too.
So there you have it. To me, these are 4 powerful concepts that, when practiced with diligence and determination, can keep me in full recovery for the rest of my life. Of course, they are not the only things that are effective for keeping someone sober. You may very well have your own. However, I will say this: If I had to choose only 4 concepts to guide me, I’m going with these.
Now—“living in the present moment.” I would add that living in the NOW would be a 5th concept. It has also brought me to a way of thinking and being that has dramatically improved the quality of my life as well. So 5 then. Lol. Not only that, but I honestly believe they will continue to be life changing for me for the rest of my life as well.
I had a guy on Etsy create a wooden token for me. I wanted to give myself–and the guys (and gal) here in the program something they could put in their pockets.
Something that might remind them of their daily struggle and the coping skills that they might be able to rely upon to get them through life’s situations. I carry my AA medallions with me and am always playing with them to remind me of what my purpose is. Here is what he came up with, showing both sides of the coin. I love it!
If you, or a loved one, is suffering from addiction or living a life of misery and unhappiness, I urge you to look into these concepts for yourself. Oh, and buy Tolle’s “The Power of Now.” It will completely change the way you view and live your life!