Anyone who says staying sober is without its challenges has clearly never struggled with addiction. Maybe you've heard of one of the rare few who could just stop using and walk away without any problem at all. Power to them, but that is just not the case for the majority of people.
Accessing the help you need is an important first step. But that's all it is--a first step, and a very big first step it is. Once there, it's time to start creating what I call your "net"*. Imagine what you will, but in my mind, it's a thick, rope-y fishing net ready to catch me if I fall. And in order for it to work for me, I have to be the one to create it.
Choosing sobriety not only means saying "no" to the addiction, it also means saying "no" to a lifestyle, habits, people, places, and/or things that could trigger us--things that made up our old net. So choosing sobriety is also choosing to make a new net, a net that makes sense to the path you are now on. So, how exactly do you create that net?
1. Create your own Top 10.
You don't have to be David Letterman to make a Top 10 list. Make a Top 10 list of why you are choosing to be sober. Even if you know in your mind why, there is a lot of power in writing it out for yourself as well. You can even put it somewhere where you'll see it every day to reinforce why you made the choice you did.
2. Practice self-care.
Self-care comes in many different forms. For some, it's some kind of physical act, such as getting a massage or a manicure or pedicure. But self-care goes way beyond those "traditional" means. Sure, if you're stressed out and your back is killing you, a massage is a great mode of self-care. But so is cooking yourself a favorite meal, taking a bath, reading a good book, or going to bed early. If it promotes your well being mentally, physically, or emotionally, it's self-care. If you're struggling to come up with ideas, check out Tiny Buddha's article 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body and Soul.
3. Find your "happy place".
Happy Gilmore used his happy place to focus on making killer golf shots. Although that reference may lead you to recall the ridiculous "happy place" he imagined, yours doesn't need to be so ridiculous. Where is one or two places you've been where you felt safe, happy, and at peace? Maybe it isn't even a place you've been, but a place you've imagined. One place I feel safe, happy, and at peace is in a forest or in the mountains, surrounded by Mother Nature. It's quiet, which quiets my mind. I can breathe more deeply and freely. However, there are times where I cannot run off into the wild, so it's good to have a more localized back up.
4. Free your mind.
Our minds can be both our best friend and worst enemy...and when it's being our enemy, it can be like a runaway train. In those instances, we need a way to take back our place in the conductor's seat and get it back under control. Easier said than done, right?
It may take trying several methods to find a way to calm your mind that works best for you. Guided meditations are good for pulling in all your senses so that you can calm and refocus your mind. Other ways could be journaling, prayer, or deep breathing exercises.
The whole idea behind the "net" is that all the things you come up with---reasons for your sobriety, all the forms of self-care you enjoy, the places you've identified as your happy place, and any method or methods you find that help calm your mind--are what create your net. Your net can exist purely in your mind, or you can create a visual to help remind you. For me, drawing my net was more helpful. I simply drew crisscrosses on a blank page, and in each empty space, I wrote down one thing. Over time, you can add new strategies and activities that you discover. There is no limit to what your net can contain, all that matters is that you create it. If you're having a hard time coming up with your new net, reach out to your Creekside counselor--chances are, they will have some great suggestions based on what they know about you.
*The "net" was inspired by writings and a workshop by Traveling Jackie