As destructive as it is, a life which is built within addiction can still provide us with an identity.
We establish a certain network of friends – or acquaintances – whom we come to rely on. We have our daily habits, which provide a sense of comfort in routine. And, we have our coping methods established, even with that coping method meaning that we are using a substance to avoid facing problems.
When stepping out into the new realm after recovery, it can feel as though we don’t know where to begin. Our former behaviors need to be reshaped; our thoughts need to be recalibrated; and our social circle may need replacing.
The world which we have built for ourselves while in addiction has been resigned to the past, and a new, uncharted, territory lay before us. When embarking on such an adventure, it is useful to take along some pointers about the best ways to stake a claim in your new land, and the best ways to lay your foundation for a flourishing kingdom.
Take Enjoyment in the Small Things
Each accomplishment which is reached after recovery is worthy of appreciation.
For those who were used to staying up all night, beginning to wake up with the morning sun is a sign of new life. It could be that you are using the extra energy that you have gained from sobriety by playing with the kids, or through taking your mate out to dinner. Your new habits may include lying in bed and thinking about your life, instead of getting up to use.
All of these moments are valuable.
Things which are considered mundane by others can be considered as special to someone who has recovered from addiction.
Those who are aware of the consuming power of drugs and alcohol are equally equipped with the ability to appreciate the small, positive, aspects of life. Someone who has missed out on experiences, due to not being in a right frame of mind at the time, knows how to value the opportunities which come with a second chance.
Make sure to take the time to fully savor those moments.
Make Plans for Growth
The best way to get lost is to not know where you are going. After getting your sober feet underneath you, it is time to start plotting a course of action.
For many, remembering the directions which were taken during our old life of addiction can be a starting point for knowing which spots on the map to avoid. Once we have traveled down a dead-end road – and come back from it – we know not to take that particular route, again.
Depending on where it started, being trapped in substance addiction can actually mean that we didn’t get to progress through our necessary stages of life development. This new period may be a time to develop the proactive relationship traits which we find to be stunted. It may be the time to discover new skills, or to finally decide what we want to be when we grow up.
Obtaining guidance for growth in these formerly neglected areas can be extremely beneficial. Finding a good therapist; enrolling into college; or signing up for a local job center training may be part of your next best steps.
Even for those who managed to find their place in life before becoming addicted, making plans for a new future is critical.
There was something about your old life which put you in a compromised place, vulnerable to the temptations to seek relief through addictive substances. Your task will be to uncover that weakness, eliminate it, and rebuild that section of your castle with newer, more sustainable, materials.
Educating ourselves as to our own cognitive processes and emotional needs can be the key here, and gaining such insight can be aided by the assistance of healthy friends; self-study; or a competent therapist.
Build the New
Just as your ending up in addiction didn’t happen overnight, the building of your new life won’t be immediate.
The amount of time that it takes to set yourself up in a positive direction will be proportionate to the amount of destruction – both internal, and external – which was caused over the course of your addiction. Be kind to yourself during this time, and keep your expectations realistic.
The analogy of rebuilding credit after earning a dismal score can be applied to the process of rebuilding a life. Staying on the good side of a credit score requires that certain, sound, fiscal, practices be established.
For those of us who have ruined our credit before beginning those good practices, we can take comfort in knowing that credit is renewed after a period of seven years. New behaviors – and time – will be what gets us out of that hole of poor credit, just as those two factors will be what go into our establishment of a new, sober, life.
The further we get into our rebuilding process, the more confident we become. While our initial journey in recovery may consist of daily reaffirmations of our resolve to stay sober, subsequent months years will find that those former behaviors are rarely considered.
We begin to take healthy pride in our progress, and our self-esteem is regularly fed by our staying of the course. Our relationships with others are improved; our ability to manage stress is increased; and our financial situations tend to become more stable.
Keep Hope in the Future
The overall theme which is present in recovery, and beyond, is that of hope. Hope is the ability to envision a positive future, and it is this vision which drives us onward.
Your hope may lie in seeing your children or grandchildren grow into content, well-adjusted, adults. It may be in leaving a financial nest egg to your descendants, or in being able to retire early. It may be in achieving an afterlife which is full of joy and fulfillment.
Whatever it is that you hope for, do what it takes to keep this vision always in front of you.