I thought I would write a little about the major things that help me stay sober on a daily basis. I think they will grow and change as I grow and change, so I want to have a list to reflect upon for my future self. Here goes.
Prayer: This summer, before I quit drinking, I prayed to the universe to help me get sober. I really think that doing that led me to where I am today. I don’t think you have to be religious to get sober, but I think praying to a higher power can help you. What happens when you do is so mysterious and wonderful it’s hard to believe. I pray every single day … usually when I am lying down with the baby trying to get him to fall asleep. There are so many short, simple prayers out there, or you can make up your own. Simple and effective. I’m all about it.
Gratitude: I used to think a lot about lack. Lack of money, opportunities, friends, family, love, material items. I try really hard not to do this now. Gratitude helps me so much. I make lists when I have time, or I mentally go through things that I am grateful for. My life feels more abundant than it used to, and I am pretty sure that gratitude has something to do with it. This also helps to keep me from feeling deprived because “I can’t” drink. There are so many things that I CAN do … shifting the focus to gratitude helps to keep me from going to that negative, deprived mental space.
Support: Hello, sober blogosphere! Blogging has been really great as a way to gain support from people who truly understand what I am going through. You kind of have to put yourself out there, but you can do it anonymously if you want, which works GREAT for old introverted me. There have been a few days where I contemplated drinking but didn’t because I didn’t want to have to write about it here. So … support and accountability all in one place. I am grateful everyday to have stumbled upon sober blogs during those early months. Women for Sobriety has also been a great source of support. I don’t generally do the chat group meetings but I post questions or concerns in the forums when I need to. Belle and Team 100 have been great, also. I signed up for the 180 Day Challenge, but I have been bad about e-mailing lately. My husband provides me with tons of support, as do a few friends, when I reach out for it. I think support is absolutely necessary for getting and staying sober, but how you go about getting it, and making sure that you get ENOUGH, is your own business.
Anti-Guilt: I used to feel so guilty about everything all the gosh darn time. I am trying to let go of that. It is okay to do sobriety MY way- I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I don’t need to worry about not going to AA, for example, as long as my personal sober plan is working. I am still sober and in recovery- MY WAY. I don’t need to feel guilty about eating chocolate, drinking Diet Cokes, or getting grouchy once in awhile. I do not have to be perfect as long as I am sober and learning and growing and trying to do my best and living my life. ANTI-GUILT STYLE!
Self-Love: I talk a lot about self-love on this blog because it is the shit! I mean, without it you can’t give as much to the rest of the world. It just makes life richer. How I do this changes all the time. Simply realizing that not drinking is a form of self-love was a huge part of my journey. Setting boundaries, taking care of myself, nourishing my body, being kind, boosting my self-esteem … these are all a part of it.
Boundaries: I have had to set some boundaries and then do the difficult task of enforcing them when they are trampled on. Toxic people, drama, constant negativity … they don’t have a place in my life anymore. Even when they are coming from people I love. I am learning that staying sober means taking care of myself, and taking care of myself means setting boundaries and sticking with them. It can be tough shit at times because it hurts to enforce them, but it is so necessary for healing myself.
Feelings: I wouldn’t be able to do this without changing my approach to feelings. I used to be so scared of them! I would drink them away to avoid them. So, I am learning that they are not that big of a deal. Sure, they take over my brain and body at times, but if I let myself feel them … like, really feel them … I can usually move on! Also- they always, always, always pass in time. You can go about your day knowing that, oh hey, this sadness/anger/joy/fear/whatever will come and go. I pay attention to them, feel them, process and learn from them, but don’t let them rule me. At least I am trying, and so far, it seems to be helping.
Distraction: When all of my lofty goals fail and I feel like poop, it is perfectly okay to distract myself by watching a movie, reading a trashy novel, or browsing through the entire ModCloth or Ikea online catalogue (and they are BIG). It is okay not to think about serious things all the time. This ties in with the anti-guilt, too. Sometimes sleeping is a good distraction.
For me, staying sober means All OF THESE THINGS (more emphasis than yelling, sorry).