“I got new rules, I count ‘em.” – Dua Lipa
Rule #1: One Meeting a Week at Minimum.
Truth is life can and does get busy. There have been plenty of weeks that required me to work late on the night of one of my home group meetings. I find that if I start letting weeks get in between my meetings, I unknowingly become a dry drunk. I start building resentments, staying in my head more and withdrawing from the right people in my life. Life is just better if I make my meetings and so I make them a priority and if I can’t make one of my go-to meetings then I search for another meeting to fill the gap and I go.
Rule #2: Know Your Warning Signs & Respond Accordingly.
I call it getting squirrelly; you may call it getting froggy or some other term. Whatever you call it – it means the sirens are roaring. For me, it often means I am uncomfortable in my own skin and just plain irritated and unhappy. Some of my warning signs are being uncomfortable and irritable when in meetings and in church, craving vast amounts of sugar or ginger – anything that gives me a perceived “intoxication or high”, hating work and coworkers and anybody who represents the status quo, picking fights with well… everyone, judging everyone around me and the onslaught of extreme mood swings. At some point, I usually realize I am craving hard and then I put my program into action. I liken my addiction to a green monster in a locked cell. Every once in a while that sucker wakes up, stretches, realizes where he is and starts banging on the walls and bars. He starts kicking, jumping and screaming at the top of his lungs and just when I think I can’t take the craving anymore – he begins to tire and he lays back down and he goes back to sleep. The trick is to not give in to his antics while he is in his temper tantrum because if I feed him, I will make him larger and I sure don’t want him busting out of his cell and overtaking me. As long as I don’t feed him, I can have peace knowing that he will eventually tire and go back to sleep and leave me alone. He will stay this small little monster that occasionally bothers me and I will stay in control.
Rule #3 Try to Live the Program of AA All the Time.
You might ask what do you mean by all the time? Well, I mean when I am doing well and when I am doing really not well. But I especially live the program of AA when I am bat shit crazy with cravings or depression or fear and anxiety. This means I go to extra meetings, I call those people I am close to in AA and CR and let them know that I am not okay and I let them be there for me even if it feels uncomfortable. I raise my hand and tell the truth during the burning desire time even if I feel stupid doing so. I call my sponsor or accountability partners and tell them I’m not okay. This can be so awkward, but I tell people when I don’t need to go home, when I need someone to hang out with, when I just need to be somewhere doing something and I find that someone is always up for the challenge! I also implement the 10th stepping daily inventory if I am not already doing it. It is a great way to start seeing reality for reality’s sake because my reality is somehow always worse than the real reality. I use the program of AA for what it is – a way of living for those who aren’t so good at living life on life’s terms.
Rule #4: I NEVER go anywhere if I will be the only non-drinker/user.
No Exceptions. Ever.
This is a huge one for me. And it is my personal rule. Every alcoholic/addict has to create their own boundaries based on what they feel is safe for them. I drank from age 9 to age 32. If you drink alcohol around me two things are going to happen: (1) I assume you are becoming someone else like I did. (2) I am going to stare longingly at that glass of red wine or vodka in your hands while my social anxiety builds to the point that I am either crying or staring at you like a deer caught in headlights. Therefore, I just don’t go out with a group of people if I am going to be the only one not drinking. I also cannot and will not date people who drink or do any drugs and yes I mean pot too. While any future significant other or close friend doesn’t have to be in recovery, they also can’t be using period. There are people out there who don’t drink or use drugs for reasons other than addiction and it is these two groups of people that I focus on building friendships and relationships with.
Rule #5: Be Adventurous by actively seeking out non-drinking activities.
I don’t know if this is actually a rule, but I do force myself to do it from time to time when I find myself either stuck in a routine or becoming more and more introverted and reclusive. Like right now for instance, I am living in an area where I cannot do many of my favorite pastimes and I don’t really have any friends in the area so I find myself spending more and more time alone. I know that ‘s not good for a normie much less an alcoholic-addict. So I am forcing myself to seek out non-drinking and non-drugging opportunities. I am joining a bunch of Meetup groups and Facebook groups and church groups that are activity based. I don’t even go to the church that has all the fun activity groups, but since I know there are people there my age I might as well see if I can strike up any friendships with people who aren’t regular drinkers! Being adventurous and seeking out new activities for non-drinkers is how I fell in love with the outdoors so I know what amazing changes can come out of being willing to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Rule #6: Prayer, Meditation, Chakra Cleansing and Daily Release/Inventory.
I start each morning with a thank you to God for bringing me back because He didn’t have to! I also keep a daily morning yoga practice and after which, I perform a chakra cleansing and a meditation. In my morning meditations I strive to focus on a thought or phrase – sometimes the phrase enters my mind immediately, but other times I ask God “What is my thought for today?” or “What truth do I need to meditate on today?” I find that the yoga wakes me up, the chakra cleansing balances and grounds me and the meditation provides a truth to focus on for my day ahead. I even follow this morning ritual when on vacation. It’s a must in my world. I also say a prayer at the end of my morning ritual where I generally remind God of things that are worrying me and ask Him to take care of those things and I end with asking for a good day with good communications, safety and the ability to ascertain His promptings throughout the day and the courage to act on them. I also end my day with a meditation where I clear my chakras and reflect on the events of that day asking God to bring to mind anything I might need to improve upon or be enlightened about for the following day to come.
Rule #7: Keep a Daily Exercise Routine to Stay Grounded.
Besides yoga, I find that a good work out after work gets rid of excess energy and stress. I love walking and hiking for their grounding qualities, but I also love kickboxing, dancing and weight lifting and I mix all of these up in my weekly workouts. Everybody has a different time of day that works for them, but like I said, I prefer right after work. I find it’s a great way to let go of the day and prepare myself for a relaxing evening afterwards. I also find that the more I work out, the healthier my food options tend to be. Being an alcoholic, I can eat and I do often crave vast amounts of sugar, but the workouts keep me on the healthy end of the sugar scale and as a byproduct, limit any negative side effects like depression and anxiety from repetitive unhealthy over eating.
Rule #8: Make Time for What Makes You Happy!
Taurus’s are typically grounded individuals, but I swear I gallop in the air and am always craving something grounding and fun to spend my time. For me, my number one happy place is the ocean or any large body of water. The waves just wash a peace over me that I cannot wash over myself. A close second is hiking. I love hitting a trail and venturing off into the woods or the mountains. It can be 112 or 12 degrees outside – I don’t care – I will still go adventuring. I can’t explain what it does for me except to say that I am the best version of myself when I am hiking, kayaking or climbing. Another favorite past time is anything creative I can make with my hands. I find that keeping the hands busy is a form of meditation in and of itself. Even if it is the very mundane task of filing papers – it lifts the mind off of whatever it is concentrating on and allows the mind to go elsewhere – it is great. As for creative pastimes, I prefer coloring and painting. I also love photography and pottery. I think the common denominator in all of these pastimes is that the experience consumes me allowing my mind to drift somewhere lighter. I’ve never been depressed or upset on a hike, on a paddle board or while painting a canvas. These activities take my mind and soul somewhere I just can’t go without them.
Rule #9: Stay Active in a Church/Spiritual Community.
Jesus is a central part of my recovery. For you it might be another Higher Power. I think it is important to surround yourself within a spiritual community that you agree with and with which you find support and encouragement. I know that I do better when I regularly attend church and am active in a women’s group or Bible study where I can get spiritually fed and have spiritual support in the form of prayer or close spiritual friendships. I guess it goes along with the idea that whatever you are feeding yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – you become. Those you surround yourself with are your future… so make sure they are going where you want to go or becoming the type of person you want to be!
Rule #10: Let go of Those who Endure Me & Embrace Those who Appreciate Me.
This is something God has actually been working with me on. I have had a lot of people in my life that I called friends that endured me. I actually think the reason I miss Los Angeles so much is because of the friendships – those people appreciated me and they basically taught me the difference between being appreciated and being endured. When you are endured, people may invite you out and want to spend time with you, but you often find that you are somehow causing the group or the other person problems by just being who you are. The people who appreciate you on the other hand, make plans with you knowing full well any special needs or personality quirks and make accommodations for them during the making of plans. They basically consider you in advance and are considerate of you while enjoying your company. I am going to write a post on this very topic so I am not going to dive too deep right now. I am learning to identify friends who are enduring me versus friends who are appreciating me and I am not letting the enduring friends have much say in my life because they are always going to be negative since I don’t stack up to whatever version of a friend they have created in their mind. ***Note – I’m speaking of things you can’t help about yourself like in my case sun sensitivity, heat sensitivity and dietary issues. Or major personality traits like say being a photographer!
Rule #11: Stay Positive – Always Admitting It Can Always Get Better.
Another thing God has really been working with me on is my level of positive thinking. Of course, when one is in a bad depression the positive thinking goes out the window, but I find that I am one of those people where everything is possible for everyone else except me and so my inner thinking can often match this outcome. Not only am I being preempted, so to speak, when it comes to my thoughts of myself, but also to my thoughts of others and the world in general. It is like God is reaching down and holding my tongue when I am about to say something that does not align with what He says about me or the person or situation I am thinking about…. And if you are not aware, while God might not celebrate all of our decisions and actions, He also never speaks ill of us! He continually sees what we can become with Him and not what we are when we are operating on our own.
Rule #12: Allow Others to Speak into My Soul.
There have been so many times when life wasn’t making sense, but then I heard a sermon or a podcast or read an article or a blog post and the light turned on inside my head. I believe that we should make room for those who tend to speak into our souls. When I was living in Los Angeles, I became a part of Mosaic in Hollywood. To this day Erwin and Joe can speak into my soul and change my perspective at the exact moment I need them to and so I keep tabs on their sermons and podcasts via their YouTube channel. I also read a lot of books and it is through one of those books that I came across the teachings of the Christian Scientist church. While I am not a Christian Scientist, I do relate to many of the teachings. I have even used some of their sayings as mantras to help get myself out of a recent depression. Consequently, I am subscribed to their super short daily podcast called the Daily Lift. I listen to it every morning while having tea and it serves as a daily morsel of positive food for my mind. The reality is that each of us has people who speak into our soul, make us shift our perspective in a good way and help us to make sense of our world… Each of us should be making room for these people in our lives so that we can stay grounded, stable and focused on what really matters.
These are my rules for healthy sober living regardless of circumstances… I'm curious to know... What are your rules?