Newcomers to Recovery – Building on the Basics

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I love the phrase that says, “The newcomer is the most important person in the room.” And as I get further into my recovery journey, I recognize how true this is. In my early days, I was not really helping anyone else in recovery. I was too busy helping myself. Now however, the newcomers to recovery I meet remind me of where I started. And how I might help them get to where I am in recovery.

Newcomers to Recovery – the Basics

It is so easy for me to forget the basics and then project and over-analyse myself.  What I have to do is remember to keep my thinking in the day. This stops me from looking past the immediate future and then getting overwhelmed at the thought of never drinking again. If all I have to do is not drink today, it feels more manageable.  

 

As a newcomer to recovery, even one day seemed to be too much. But if I broke my day down, it became manageable. First of all, I just had to get up and out of bed. And on a good day I could even make the bed. Next came a shower and brushing my teeth. For someone who does not have a substance use disorder, this may seem really simple. But by making simple tasks my priority, it stopped me from thinking too much. This works even during our recent stay-at-home orders. The basic principles apply no matter where you are in your recovery journey.

 

Dealing with anger, resentment, and self-pity

During the early days, my normal state of being was anger, resentment, and self-pity.  I saw the world as a very different place than I do now. I had no idea of the progress and personal development I would accomplish. Working through my program and facing my demons (emotions), I feel like I have unraveled a whole network of negative thinking.

 

Now rather than getting angry I try to look at both perspectives. I recognize that my anger is a defense mechanism. If I get angry first and push back first, this prevents anyone attacking me. By working this out and talking it through my defenses are softening. Although rejection is still a massive trigger for me.  

 

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Resentments were my justification for my drinking. I’d think, you’d drink if you had my life, and, didn’t you know this happened to me as a child? These were excuses so I could justify my behaviour to myself.

 

The dictionary definition of resentment is, “a feeling of anger because you have been forced to accept something that you do not like.” For me, this goes deeper – much deeper. My resentments were a recurring feeling that would go around and around in my mind. I could not move past them.

 

Dealing with fear

I hated the person or thing that caused the resentment, and I’d plot all sorts of grand plans to get revenge. At no point did I consider other reasons for the outcomes, or my part in the whole situation.  A lot of my resentments were fear based: fear of rejection; fear of being found out; fear of getting what I wanted. All those fears are emotions that can damage one’s ego and lead to another drink.  

 

Now that I am becoming much more settled in who I am and what my triggers are, I don’t hold onto these feeling as much.  Don’t get me wrong – I still feel hurt and rejection. But the difference now is that I talk it through with people I trust.  Whilst the pain I’m feeling is still very real, I am able to experience that pain, get through it and let it go. I don’t wish ill of other people involved nor do I recycle the event over and over looking at what other outcomes there could have been. More often than not I can now see the whole picture of any given situation.  By learning this I have certainly found a new peace and a much happier way of life.

 

The Basics During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly been a test of my recovery and newfound serenity. Initially, I found the changes really tough and I allowed resentments to fester.  I’d get annoyed at anyone who didn’t follow the rules as they were laid out, especially if they didn’t keep their distance from me.

 

By working with my fellows and remembering the skills I learned, I soon came to realize that I have no control over others and all I can do is the right thing by me and my family.  As long as I follow the instructions as given, I was keeping the people I love safe and well.  If other people choose not to, I have to accept that as their choice, as hard as that is.

 

I think all of us in recovery had to go back to basics in the past three months. And it actually helped my recovery. The stillness of each day has allowed me to reflect and work through some emotions that have been blocking my path. In the shadow of this awful time I have been blessed with the ability to look at myself in a way that I might not have had the opportunity to previously.  I have found a new depth of spirituality, and I am allowing a Higher Power to show me a new and better way of living. 

I think all of us in recovery had to go back to basics in the past three months. And to you newcomers, it actually helped my recovery. The stillness of each day has allowed me to reflect and work through some emotions that have been blocking my path. By going back to the basics in the shadow of this awful time I have been blessed with the ability to look at myself in a way that I might not have had the opportunity to previously.  I have found a new depth of spirituality, and I am allowing a Higher Power to show me a new and better way of living.

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Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at called 365 'Days a Year' and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.