Friday, November 12, 2021

8 things I learned during 8 years of recovery from alcohol and substance use disorder

Today is MFD's eight sober anniversary. It is impossible to boil down what a life changing impact that has had for us across the board into a few sentences. 

Sobriety isn't something you do and move on from. It is commitment and consistency. It is vulnerability and honesty. It is introspection and service and healing and growth. It requires constant tending. Sometimes it requires an overhaul. It is beautiful. In many ways it is like a relationship. And in our relationship, today is the most important anniversary because without it, we would not celebrate a marriage anniversary at this point. 

Which makes it funny in the 2020-2021 brand of funny that I didn't realize today was November 12 for a number of hours into the day.

Anyway this is something MFD wrote about his journey so far. It is true to what I have seen him live these past eight years. It's good too, I only gave two edits for clarity...after he had posted it everywhere LOL. 

I wanted to share it here in case you need it, or you know someone who might. As always, mental health issues, alcoholism and substance use disorder are nothing to be ashamed of. We are removing the stigma and talking about these things out loud. Please contact me via email if you need to do that and I will share any resources I can with you, including myself. 
8 Things I Learned During 8 Years of Recovery from Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder

1. It takes a village
Find a supportive community to help shape your recovery. 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, Dharma, etc… There are many pathways to recovery but find one, stick with it and find someone who you admire and respect, latch onto them, and do what they say and do. (This can be an ever evolving process, but I recommend sticking to one mode for the first few years before exploring other Recovery Options.

 2. You can only control what is within your “Hula Hoop”
I thought I could magically infect everyone with what I learned, which would remove what probably seemed to them insurmountable problems and change themselves for the better in the process. I learned I can only control the changes I choose to make within the imaginary hula hoop around my body. I can be a model for others, if they choose that, but I can only control me.

3. A higher power was necessary for MY recovery
It may not work for everyone, but for me it was important. It was also very important to learn and understanding that my higher power is what I choose. It isn’t Catholic, Islam, Jewish, Buddhist, etc… It is what I want and need it to be and can be all gendered or no gender or an old man with a beard or a chair. To those struggling with the concept of a higher power, it is what YOU want it to be. The point is that I needed to understand the concept of a higher power to help me learn about humility and vulnerability.

4. Be Honest
Do not lie, cheat, or steal. It sounds easy but for many it was a way of life for so long. Also, I learned that I need to get honest with myself and with another. A sponsor or my therapist, but as long as I got honest and lived in an honest way, I would be fine.

5. Consistent mental health treatment
Following my primary care physician’s suggestion to see a psychologist and seeing that same Doctor for 8 years has been key. Incorporating a psychiatrist at year 2 was also key. Remember, it takes a village and seeking professional outside help was so important. Also, Old and Angry men who are NOT doctors are NOT doctors. Do NOT take their medical advice.

6. Promises will come true if you let them
My favorites are, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” And “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.” There are 10 more. Contact me directly if you want to know more about them.

7. Be kind and don’t be a DICK!!!
If the people you are surrounding yourself with in your fellowship seem to be mean, cruel, dickish, unkind, condescending, childish, uncaring, etc… Find a new group of people to join in your recovery journey. Human beings will act like each other in groups, and you will find yourself becoming a mean, angry person if you surround yourself with mean, angry people. Love yourself, your spouse/partner, family, friends, and volunteers. And most importantly, learn to love and pray for those you DO NOT LIKE or have a resentment towards.

8. Recovery is malleable and can evolve
If it takes a village then make sure you are open, available, considerate, kind and loving to everyone seeking a better life. Example, If you are in AA, be open to people in NA, SMART Recovery or people still using.

Happy most important anniversary to MFD. Happy Friday to you. And to anyone who needs to hear it: recovery is possible. 

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