Those of you who have been following me for awhile know about my 5 Pillars of Recovery. They are the principles that I established late in 2016, as I journeyed through inpatient treatment at the VA. The acronym for these pillars is S.N.A.G.M.
S.N.A.G.M. stands for Spirituality, Now, Acceptance, Gratitude, and Mindfulness. And it is these principles which have been instrumental in my recovery from alcohol and drugs. As strong as these principles are, they are not the only things I practice to stay sober. Those pillars hold up the structure of my recovery. I’ve also furnished the structure of my recovery with a variety of smaller practices which I employ on a daily basis.
I try to avoid boredom. There is a saying that “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” And that is particularly true in my case. In the past boredom had always caused havoc and chaos. I would find the need to act on my impulses. I usually found myself taking to drinking heavily, and all bets were off for normalcy on those occasions.
So, I do not allowed myself to become bored, instead choosing to fill my day with a variety of activities. Raising my 11 month old daughter certainly keeps me busy. I also read. I watch shows with my wife during lunch. I fiddle around with my books. I do spend too much time on social media though; that’s something I have to avoid. Which leads me to another of my small practices:
I try to stay out of a rut. For me, redundancy leads to boredom which leads to potential chaos and havoc. Sometimes I find myself too caught up in doing the same activities–like reading social media posts–to the point that I can get into a rut. That’s where discontent resides in me. My tougher days seem to be when I am not being creative enough with the use of my time.
I am merely wasting time doing mindless and trivial things. And doing too much of them. That’s when the “stinkin’ thinkin'”, so often spoken of at AA meetings, begins to take root. When I mix up my day with a variety of activities I’m not in my head. I am usually contented and doing enough different things that I avoid any kind of rut.
I don’t take on too much. Avoiding a rut doesn’t mean I should take on too much. In the past I was always overly ambitious and took on too many projects and responsibilities. And I usually would end up giving up and succumbing to my disease because of the stress involved with juggling too many things at once. It’s not just projects either; this aspect has to do with too many projects and/or too many places to go or too many obligations.
I avoid taking on too much so that I don’t become overwhelmed and stressed out. Two things that threaten my recovery. Essentially, I manage my days and nights much more effectively by breaking them down into chunks of time. Today, I can actually sit contented with not always having to do something or to be somewhere.
I don’t get too cocky. I don’t get too comfortable in my sobriety that is. Although the foundation of my recovery is strong, I am sure to avoid becoming complacent about it. I count each month I am sober. I take part in several recovery groups online. I blog here about my recovery. I carry recovery tokens in my pocket to remind me of where I am at in my recovery.
While I am not exactly hyper-vigilant, I am very aware that my dark passenger would like nothing better than to suck me into the world of my disease, in all of its forms. I am nearing 5 years in recovery, but I avoid being cocky about it. Because I know that the disease of alcoholism is cunning and sly; capable of jumping back into the driver’s seat of my life if I ever get too cocky and comfortable that I’ve “got it licked.”
So there you have it. A few more keys to my recovery. A few more things that I am actively doing to maintain my recovery and live a life worth living; without the chaos, drama, and perils of my disease running the show.