I know it sounds strange, but my battle with addiction and mental health is one of the best things to ever happen in my life. Because I got to get sober and well. And everyone who stays sober long enough ends up realizing that sobriety is an incredible gift that we get to open every single day. The more time I spend in recovery, the more I learn about my authentic self and what I came here to do.
One of the ways I honor my recovery is by understanding that I cannot underestimate the value of a positive ripple effect. Everything I do and say matters and is, in effect, a pebble in a pond. I can contribute to society or I can partake in the decline of it.
I want to share some of the cool things that happened since I stayed the course of recovery. These can happen for you, too:
1. I get to be the change:
Sobriety means I've taken responsibility for managing my life. In doing this, I directly and indirectly help other people change their own lives. There's a lot of power in owning your humanness. By standing in my power, I emit that power to others, whether I know it or not. When we are vulnerable, we are an example of vulnerability for others to see; when we are brave, others feel they can be brave too. In committing to my own heart-healing, I have become an active participant in the healing of the world. It is pretty rad.
2. I am more soul-centered vs. ego-centered:
Addiction is an affliction driven by the ego. My ego wanted what would make me feel good instantly and was not interested in delaying gratification. Obeying my self-serving ego made me miserable. In recovery, I have learned how to feed my soul and connect myself to spiritual energy. I have a deeper sense of well-being and satisfaction now. I understand what matters in life and I think about the big picture. Instead of what I impulsively want right now, I think more along of the lines of what will grow me long-term. My ego is still very much there, I am just not at the mercy of it 24/7.
3. The growth motivation and self-actualization factor:
At first, quitting an addiction feels unfair because it feels as though you're missing out and lacking something. But if you stay on the recovery path long enough, you'll soon see that by subtracting the very thing that was destroying you, you now have room for things that nourish you. The gains and pros far outweigh what I could have imagined at the outset.
I became intrinsically motivated by my own growth & progress and I keep moving closer to who I am meant to be. I stopped fighting the addiction and instead spend my energies on building my new life filled with things and people I love. The focus shifted from what I feel I have lost to what I gain on a daily basis by being in sobriety. I actually believe that my tomorrows hold more promise than my yesterdays ever could have and that even though I felt unlucky at the start, I now know I am the luckiest.
4. Joy & gratitude become common:
I didn't even know what gratitude was when I was heavily addicted. I had essentially opted out of life -- what could I be grateful for? When you use substances to block out pain, you block out all the feel-good emotions as well.
I'm happy to report that I have a very grateful heart today and sobriety is a prerequisite for that. Now that I'm not numbing out all the time and manufacturing my feelings, I get to naturally feel extraordinary amounts of joy and gratitude. There are so many moments when I feel like my heart could burst from all the joy. I am sort of high on life. Not all the time of course, but when I am, it's real -- not a superficial drunken giddiness.
Being entirely open about my journey has liberated me like I didn't know was possible. For someone who felt chained for so long, the feeling of liberation is one of the best. And it allows me to help others in a very profound way.
Being in recovery from addiction does not have to mean your life is over. Actually -- it could very well mean your life has just begun.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.