By the sober horse thief
Disclaimer: I am only one entity, speaking for nothing and no one but myself. I do happen to be an active participant in a 12-step fellowship and have worked and continue to work all 12 steps.
We get sober and then what? For me my addiction just so happened to become a great vehicle for spiritual enlightenment. When we recover we start to gradually pick up tools, routines, life skills and relationships. All of that can be very gratifying but it can be overwhelming to someone like me who just liked to hole up somewhere and not be bothered. Now that I know that way of life doesn’t truly work for me, I have to work on building up my life from the inside out. There are a few steps to take to do that and to accept life as it is, and not as we want it to be. These are meant to be suggestive only, and additional to anything you have been called to do already, like therapy or medication.
First and foremost, honoring the place we are in right now in this moment is important and you do not have to do that perfectly. In order to truly appreciate the good when it comes, we need to recognize and respect the bad of today. Honor is a quality that combines respect, being proud, and honesty. In order to honor where we are we must honestly and humbly understand that we are human and we will never be more than that. I can’t escape having mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual problems.
Wherever you are on your journey, tell yourself it is ok. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. The avenues we took to escape our pain do not have to be a prison. Where we ended up never justified the means we used to escape pain, but that is simply the nature of addiction. Our bodies have been through a lot and our minds have been through worse. If your heart is beating, and you’re reading this right now, there is a lot you have overcome already. Let that fill you with a sense of pride. To me pride is just being satisfied with myself, and it needn’t become anything more.
We know we can’t become more than human, but however, because we are human we can be remarkable and significant in a way only humans can be. A drug counselor who had been in prison for 25 years once told me, “Because I am one, I cannot do everything, but because I am one I can do something.” We can’t usually expect huge or grandiose things from ourselves, but yet we can affect the physical world around us in small ways that can create big waves.
While understanding all of this, there are a lot of steps we can take to avoid being a victim of life. The biggest thing I had to understand was that my reactions to the universe work as a boomerang. I can make things a lot easier on myself by putting in positive reactions. First, I have to slow down and act with purpose and grace, showing the universe I am surrendered to whatever may come. Thoughts produce some energy, but actions produce the most results. If I don’t feel calm, but I act as if I am, it cancels out the majority of the negative thoughts. When you remember to calm down, take a quiet moment, drink some water and breathe; just do anything to disrupt the fast moving thoughts and emotions. From here, I can continue on to receive more calm from the universe in the future.
Then we can start to deal with difficult people with our own light energy hiding deep within our soul. Practice channeling that energy, I promise that you that everyone has the potential. A smile is a simple way to start. I call on my guides, my higher power and the universe to help me move and act in light, love and service. I can do an affirmation out-loud, “Thank you for making me a vehicle of light and peace, spreading love and compassion to all.” Words have energy too, so it is helpful to try to use them wisely. The world is made up of many energies, and we can be a source of the good or the bad kind. Understanding your flaws and limitations from what we talked about before, we can see people as having those same flaws and limitations. That is where compassion comes in.
The dark places we’ve been are a way to connect to those still lost in the darkness. If you are still in the darkness yourself, you have nothing to fear. You will make your way out, as I did. Just try to act in spite of yourself. I came in dark and broken, and I did things against that dark nature to cultivate the light within. The universe is always rooting for you, so don’t give up.
So we’ve talked a little bit about being positive. To sum up, the best way to have a positive state of mind is to look for the good in others’ situations and to help them to see it. We are strongly connected to each other. The way I feel about myself is how I see the world and its inhabitants. Everyone is a mirror. If you put a positive interaction into someone else’s life, you will be helping yourself in the end. I did some manual labor work in the beginning, volunteering for some sort of service because I felt I didn’t have anything nice to say and positive interactions were new to me. That was a good beginning point as any other.
A huge part of not being life’s bitch is not building a shrine for your feelings. For example, if I feel chemistry with someone, I don’t need to build them up in my head, create fantasies of who and what they are and think about them most of the day. (Though that usually doesn’t stop me.) If I don’t feel like going to a sobriety meeting, I consult someone who is not me. What we’re doing here is lessening the self-reliance we had in active addiction. We are trying to depend on something else, whether that be the universe, a metaphysical entity of your higher power, or a fellowship. We can depend on all three, but the main focus for me had to be a single power greater than myself.
If I wake up and don’t feel like getting up, I get up and make myself eat something and drink water anyways because my body needs it. I’d also like to point out that this all came after months of trying, do not be discouraged if you “fail” sometimes, as it is all part of the process of becoming different. Similarly, if I feel sad, it is in my best interest to reach out, the opposite of what I want to do. As I continue on acting like that I realize more and more how what I want is not usually correct or right for me. Sometimes it aligns with the universe’s will for me, sure, but that’s not a rule. The world actually knows what I need to be the happiest and my material and physical desires matter little. The freedom my program gives me is the ability to feel one thing and act in another more appropriate way. If I’ve been isolating, obsessing or judging, I can turn right around as soon as I realize it and change everything. It’s is usually quick to do when you’re sober depending on how long you’ve been participating in the negative behavior. Of course it’s great to catch it early, but self-centered thinking doesn’t always stop right away.
There are times when doing these things and acting against yourself will feel like your brain and your mind are hitting against a wall repeatedly. On the other side of that wall is freedom, which is priceless. I have my share of walls, but my higher power gives me the strength I need for all of them. I just have to turn to it and surrender myself to it and do what I have to do to stay sober or to keep moving toward the light.
After trying to do this sort of thing consistently, your feelings will have less power and less emotions attached to them. It happens slowly and there is always the possibility of something knocking the wind out of you again, even after you’ve had a lot of practice. Don’t let that deter you. I used to fear pain in a huge way, repressing any negative emotion and keeping myself sick and depressed. The pain is least when you let it channel through you and out of you. Feel the pain where it hurts in your body or soul. Then release it, imagine that pain lifting out of you and transforming into light and positivity. The biggest healer of pain has been my service to other people, another example of how strong of an energy actions produce.
Everything in the universe has a rhythm and order that is greater than anything I could have ever imagined. The more I attempt to trust this process and act like someone with a higher power, the more peace I feel.
We at this point are beginning to understand that connecting to others, being useful and spreading light is invaluable to living life on life’s terms. When I do things for others, I get outside of myself and receive positive consequence, kind of like my drinking and using in the past. I get to forget about my problems and get distance from the pain and uncomfortability. When I return to my body and mind, it is calmer. The more strenuous the service, the more distance you get.
Thank you for embarking on this journey with me. I will meet you electronically again soon.
Love and peace,
The sober horse thief