This past weekend I went to Father Martin’s Ashley and participated in a speaker’s meeting. It was a pleasure doing this and is a fantastic form of service. Doing this helps my sobriety in many ways. It helps me see what is going on within me and helps me remember what it was like when I was in the early days of recovery.
The common theme the patients shared was their concern for how their loved ones were going to react to them when they returned home. Many had wives and girlfriends that already left, and children who no longer wanted to talk with them. They were afraid that their getting sober would not make a difference in the behavior of their loved ones. I pointed out that they needed to get sober, regardless of what their loved ones did.
The problem is that we are expected to maintain sobriety at the very time we are at the height of the destruction of our use. It is in the first year that we are dealing with angry loved ones, loss of a job, and alienation from coworkers. But we can’t drink. Oftentimes, we leave treatment and return back to the environment we were in when we were at the height of our use. Staying sober is difficult but it can be done with the help from other people who’ve been there and understand what you’re going through.
It has been my experience that it is pointless to try and talk rationally with someone under the influence. The best time to talk to them is when they are sober, can rationalize, and have hopefully reached a bottom.
This concept applies to other aspects of life as well. For example, people who are going through traumatic life circumstances, such as divorce, can be in a heightened state of emotion. In this state, people are apt to make decisions based on emotion, and are not able to detach and make unemotional decisions when they are most needed. Similar to the concept of not approaching an alcoholic in the middle of a spree, we should be careful to not give life-changing advice to someone who is in the middle of an emotional breakup. There will be time for advice, but after the wave of emotion has passed. In the beginning, it is best to listen, let them vent, and allow the person to come back to a level emotional state. Be available to provide resources but avoid encouraging rash decisions.
By accepting that addiction is a disease, I am able to be more realistic about my recovery.
There is a saying that unrealistic expectations are resentments waiting to happen. It is easy for me to have skewed expectations and this can be very unhealthy for me. My expectations for nearly everything, my career, wife, children, and other people can get skewed. I’ll tell myself that life would be better if people would just do what I want them to do, however, that is not how life works. As long as I am aware of this, I find it easier to stay centered.
Many people who are new to recovery are often very sensitive to what other people think. I believe this is the result of having low self-esteem and being overly self-conscious. Today, I am getting over the need for other people to know how they hurt me. I am becoming more aware when I am having negative thoughts and improving how I deal with those thoughts. I try not to let those thoughts turn into resentments; after all, resentments are what lead me back to that first drink.