Living a life in recovery is challenging. In order to get sober, I had to give in to my addiction and in order to stay sober I have had to learn about addiction. And in learning about my addiction, I have learned a lot about myself and others. I have also learned it’s all about the stages of my recovery.
The Stages of my Recovery …
First, I had to face my alcoholism and admit defeat. I was done with the life I was living and the person I had become. And I knew this wasn’t the real me. I had progressed (regressed?) from the party girl into a secluded lonely drinker. And I had a stronger relationship with alcohol than with anything or anyone else in my life.
I suffered so much pain and anger to be able to put down the drink. But in my first 3-months of sobriety, I came out of the early phase fairly quickly. And then, I entered my “pink cloud” phase – a period of elation and almost feeling high.
From pink cloud till now I have been up and down from one extreme high to the other. If something good happened it would feel like the greatest thing ever, until it passed. And it was a terrible crash into feelings of despair and hopelessness.
The line between addictive behaviour and normal life is a blurry one. I get easily confused, but have to constantly remind myself that I am exactly where I am meant to be. So, I continue on my path and try to let the feelings happen. It’s not easy but with recent changes I have made I have now reached an acceptance phase – this I believe is the key to living in sobriety for me.
The Acceptance Stage of Recovery?
When I look at my “non-addicted” friends, they don’t seem to suffer from the same insecurities as me. Or if they do, they just accept them for what they are. The main difference between us is that they don’t seem to feel the need to drink themselves into oblivion to get rid of the feelings. I know that I do. And those thoughts still cross my mind often. I just don’t allow myself to act on them anymore.
What is that feeling then? That need for self-destruction.
It seems I have always been around alcohol and drank alcohol. Getting drunk was normalized for me at a young age. Drinking happened in my community. It was acceptable behaviour and quite quickly became my acceptable behaviour. At first it was kind of funny – even charming … But it crept up on me and became my coping mechanism. It was my release. I guess it’s the same with people who take drugs, over-eat or over-diet. Their “normal” is the addiction demon they face on a regular basis.
Now that I have built a defense against reaching for a drink, I can see the triggers. I recognize that I get angry, frustrated. I stomp and scream like a spoiled little girl when life doesn’t go my way. I’m not always proud of my behaviour, but in the acceptance stage I can accept it as part of who I am.
I struggle with other people’s behaviour that is not within the guide of what we are taught in the twelve-step program, but in the acceptance stage I have to recognize that this is not my issue.
Right Now – It’s All About the Acceptance Stage
It is not for me to fix everyone. Nor to point out what they are doing wrong. Whilst it is hard, words are just that – I can take this as I see fit, or not. If I can hold my tongue and be quiet and accept that the noises that are being directed at me are just clatter, then I am the better person and the situation will defuse itself. I also have to learn to be honest and admit to my mistakes and failings, it’s never as bad as I think.
There are no fast rules to living this life in the acceptance stage. Just guidance – and if I slip, I have my fellows to nudge me back on the right path.The good fellows only offer this nudge when I ask. Or if I am obviously crying out for help. They don’t come charging in telling me how to be.
So, my stage of sobriety right now is the acceptance stage. I am accepting of who I am and where I am in my life. Accepting of all the parts of my personality. I don’t see any part as good or bad, it just is what it is. (I am also acutely aware that this too could pass.) But for today I will hold onto how I am feeling and keep doing what I am doing to stay on this journey. It’s all about the journey …