In the early days and weeks of recovery ‘feeling all the feels’ is like being on a furious roller coaster. After I quit my heavy drinking habit I lurched from one emotional state to another like a crazy woman. One minute screaming at the kids, then crying for no apparent reason, feeling waves of awful hopeless, and often this horrible itchy boredom. But slowly – very slowly – things calmed down. I got better at navigating my way through tough times. I became familiar with my anger and sadness and less reactive to them. I was able to stop myself from losing the plot at the drop of a hat.
What if my alcoholism is my greatest asset? Not when it was alive, active, and devouring me––no. But when I came to my senses long enough to catch my breath. More like the moment it became my reality check, and then the climb back up from that. If I hadn’t hit the place where I was able to admit that my life had become unmanageable, I would likely never have done the depth of work on myself that is requested/required in The Steps.
To think of recovery as linear – a continuum of getting better and better – is misguided at best. Recovery is messy as hell. It is a series of becoming undone, reforming, and blooming – again and again. Anyone who tells you it’s plain sailing once you get sober, or that your inner turmoil is a reflection of your broken spiritual state, is entirely misguided. I just turned six years sober and have never felt so broken and undone in my entire recovery journey so far. No amount of spiritual work is touching the surface, only easing the pain and my relationship to it.
As I look forward to the crispness of autumn, and to cooler days and nights on deck, it is the perfect time to sense a change in the air, and begin to tune into what no longer serves me, and let it go… I open my arms wide to welcome the divinely timed arrival of September, shining with pure potentiality. I am strong, I am open, and I receive all the gifts life has to offer including health, joy, abundance, creativity, and love.
When I started to feel like drinking culture was no longer serving me a few years ago, I was admittedly resistant about being “sober” because of the social stigma I held around the label. I didn’t want to be “sober” because I didn’t want to have a “problem” … I was – by all accounts – a completely normal social drinker … But when I looked at how drinking made me feel (lethargic, unmotivated, sometimes sad, regretful, empty) and behave (obnoxious, unconfident, judgmental, snarky, over-the-top), I knew with certainty that I was not being the best version of me …
Getting sober is just the beginning. Life rolls out the red carpet when we step fully into recovery. Our “List Post” for this month includes 10 things we can do to thrive! What can you add to this list?
Just then, a sleek European sports car wheeled into the parking lot. A very handsome, well groomed man hopped out and asked, “May I help you?”
“I was just looking for the meeting schedule,” I replied.
“For AA?” he quizzed.
“Yes,” I affirmed.
After a brief pause, he smiled and said, “You don’t look like a drunk!”
I laughed out loud. Though I am typically shy and reserved, especially with strangers, I literally laughed out loud––and kept laughing.
Words are symbols comprised of a bunch of letters or sounds, but it’s the feelings they trigger based on the meanings I give them that hold all the power. If I’m tuned in to that, I can simply substitute a different phase that won’t cause a subconscious knee jerk reaction. In flows the good. Bill Wilson, the founder and daddy of AA, did this. Skeptical of and resistant to religious verbiage, his life changed when he learned to construct and verbalize his own image of what his Higher Power is. His very own Spiritual Experience.