We came to our fellowship to find a new way to live, a sober way to live. After years of mental anguish and horrible abuse on our bodies, we finally decided to come into the rooms. Thankfully, we are endlessly supplied with tips to help keep us sober and happy in our new lives. We are also reminded through the experiences of others, and sometimes ourselves, as to what won’t keep you sober, and what to watch out for.
This is one of the blessings of the rooms. We all gather like-minded people to share and grow in our simple program of recovery. Meetings allow people with years of sobriety to indulge us with how they kept at it while the newcomers and those coming back provide a reminder of where we all come from.
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Being Sober and the Chronic Relapser
I am someone who could be considered to have been a “chronic relapser” and I’m sure as hell not alone. However, throughout all of my failures, I have developed a pretty handy list of Do’s and Don’ts for maintaining any sort of enjoyable sobriety. To start, here’s a quick list of Do’s that are the baseline for any solid foundation of recovery.
- Get a sponsor and work your steps.
- Find a homegroup, and attend as many meetings as you can, especially in early sobriety. Don’t be afraid to get involved with commitments!
- Develop a relationship with your higher power, pray and meditate often.
- Build your network of sober supports.
- Always practice an Attitude of Gratitude!
Easy, right? Yep! So easy that sometimes I thought I must have been doing it wrong. But alas, if you maintain at a minimum these 5 simple tools you are pretty much guaranteed a happy and sober life.
Now, on the other hand, we have a list of things that are highly suggested to avoid.
To be honest, the list can and will vary for everyone but on the whole, these things won’t keep you sober. It’s definitely always a good idea to run everything by your sponsor and trusted sober supports, but I’m going to start with the basics that I personally follow.
To Stay Sober Don’t Do These Things:
- Isolate! I was a master at telling myself that I didn’t need to go to that meeting or call my friends because my feelings “weren’t that bad” or that I “didn’t really feel like it”. This is a lie, it is our addiction trying to weaken us. We have a gift of like-minded people whose primary goal is simply to support other alcoholics such as ourselves, so don’t deny anyone the opportunity to keep you and themselves sober.
- Never put external happiness before your higher power! I repeat, do NOT do this. You will hear in meetings that whatever you put before your recovery, you will lose. We are easily misguided by relationships, money, success, and power, but these are all temporary and will pull you away from your faith and trust upon your higher power. I’ve seen people with years of sobriety relapse in the pursuit of external satisfaction. Our higher power gives us everything we need. If we got everything we wanted, we would probably have already been dead by now.
- Don’t romanticize your using. Yes, you’re gonna have to deal with some bad stuff even after you get sober. But going back to the old way will never work for you again, I promise. It’s not worth it, and once you’ve been in AA and seen the potential for a beautiful life, drinking and drugging will literally never ever give you the relief your addict mind will try to convince you it will.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. If you have a bad day or a bad week, it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you have to relapse. It simply means that you get an opportunity to make the next 24 hours better. Besides, we would never know good days if we didn’t have bad ones.
- Don’t ever feel like you can’t live a normal life because you are an alcoholic. This is dangerous and silly thinking. We get sober to live a normal life. The life we were living before was the abnormal one. We are no longer tied down by our addiction. We can now do anything that anyone else can do and with a solid foundation of trust and unity rooted in something bigger than ourselves.
- Don’t compare! Everyone’s journey is theirs alone. It can be easy for us to tell ourselves we aren’t good enough if we don’t have as much time as someone else or if we haven’t been given the gifts of sobriety that someone else has. This is definitely not just an alcoholic tendency, but a human condition. This is YOUR sobriety, and your gifts will come if you work the program.
These tools are what I have discovered, through trial and error, that will always work for ME to avoid a relapse. What have you found that won’t keep you sober? Any similarities? Well, relax, because these are all totally normal thoughts and headspaces that we allow ourselves to get into. However, if we don’t counteract them, they can lead us back down the rabbit hole and back into using.
Luckily, we have another option, and it’s truly easy and really enjoyable when we execute our simple tools.
The 9th Step Promises of the Big Book tells us:
“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”
If you find yourself in low spots or even abnormally high ones, use your tools, call your sponsor, talk to God, and don’t pick up no matter what.
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Freedom From Addiction
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