Failure is really just an opportunity to grow.
All of us, whether in recovery or not, have faced times of indecision in our lives. But for those of us struggling with addiction, indecision can be daunting, triggering and even crippling.
If you haven’t yet been confronted with the need to make an important decision in early recovery, don’t worry – you likely will… and it may be difficult to determine which choice to make or which path to take.
Ultimately, your decisions must prioritize your sobriety.
Lakewood Recovery | Dallas Sober Home For Professionals In Recovery
By Dana M. - For Lakewood Recovery - Dallas's Sober living for professionals in recovery
My last two blog posts discuss the overlapping concepts of “unmanageability” and “powerlessness” as they relate to Step 1 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. But perhaps more important than understanding such concepts is our honest recognition of them in our daily lives. We must look ourselves squarely in the eye, admitting that we have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol, or we may never receive the help we need to stay sober. We may lose our health, our sanity, or our freedom…maybe even all three. To me, Step 1 is all about honesty.
During my active addiction, dishonesty was as constant as breathing. I subsisted every hour of every day on lies and manipulation. I obviously lied to others about my alcohol and drug consumption… but more fatal than that, I lied to myself about how bad it had gotten. Somehow, I had successfully convinced myself that being constantly inebriated was somehow normal, and that I wasn’t physically capable of lasting even one day sober without going absolutely crazy.
Denial can be just as powerful as any drug. When I could no longer deny that my lies had become so pathetic that they were almost laughable. That I had a web of lies on top of other lies I could not keep track of. When I could not differentiate the true from the false, I began to experience an overwhelming sense of sadness… and then, relief!
For me, this surprising feeling of relief came when I had reached my ultimate bottom; when I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t want to live anymore...but most importantly, I didn’t want to die a lying, scheming low-life. I had to fully concede to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic to save my own life – plain and simple. Then, I had to be willing to accept help; clearly I couldn’t do it on my own. It was such a relief to finally tell the truth!
I don’t subsist on dishonesty like I once did. I don’t need to cover-up or “drink away” my guilt from all the lies… there simply aren’t as many of them anymore! Attempting to center my life in truth means that I MUST surround myself with people who help keep me honest, like Zach Rakusin from Lakewood Recovery. Hopefully this post inspires you to seek honesty in your life, whether you’re just now taking Step 1, or whether you’re seeking a community of individuals like Zach who can help you work an honest program.
“Putting Sobriety First” May Mean Putting YOURSELF First
It is generally undisputed that recovering addicts must “put sobriety first,” lest they suffer from relapse. This idea is theoretically simple to understand… but what does it actually mean in the context of day-to-day decisions that the alcoholic may face? Oftentimes, “putting sobriety first” means that the alcoholic must put themself firstin order to work a successful 12-step program of recovery. This may seem selfish to those who expect the now-sober alcoholic to be “fixed,” but in order to build a solid foundation of support and confidence, it is absolutely vital that the alcoholic prioritize the logistics of his AA program before meeting wants (and even needs) of others.
Take the most common example upon returning home from an inpatient rehabilitation facility, the alcoholic’s loved ones may expect him to be more physically present and/or emotionally available than he was while engaged in active addiction. Unfortunately, this is not often the case… and for many reasons. A large number of alcoholics are sent to out-of-town rehabs for an average of 30 days. This means that when the alcoholic returns home, he may have no AA sponsor, no AA home group, and very few sober friends. Thus, building a solid recovery network must become his #1 goal. If not, he will likely resort to his past solution for dealing with life’s daily stress (drinking or using).
Sometimes, the alcoholic has co-existing mental disorders or addictions that must be addressed or worked through in counseling or therapy sessions now that the alcoholic is sober. Perhaps the alcoholic simply needs time to decompress or re-evaluate his life-goals. Whatever the case may be, the alcoholic shouldn’t feel guilty about prioritizing AA meetings, studying AA literature, keeping appointments with therapists/counselors/psychiatrists, meeting with sponsors, legitimate acts of self-care, or time spent building a sober support community. By the same token, families and loved ones of the alcoholic need not be discouraged if the alcoholic seems to be a little less “available” than you had hoped.
If the alcoholic moves into a sober living facility after inpatient treatment, the transition back to “normal” life will be much easier for both the alcoholic and his family to handle. The alcoholic will have space to himself to work a program, a built-in network of sober friends, and easy access to recommended meetings and sponsors in his hometown. The alcoholic’s loved ones will have peace of mind knowing that the addict has additional accountability along this new road to recovery.
To the fellow alcoholic in early recovery: though it may seem counterintuitive, putting your own needs first will better allow you to meet the needs of others in the future. Just like you can’t save a drowning person without first knowing how to swim yourself, you can’t take care of other people’s needs if you don’t first learn to take care of your own. Do the “next right thing;” take advice from others, and put yourself (aka, your recovery) first!