The process of getting sober is really all about learning how to live your life in a healthy way. And in order to do that you’ve got to get to know who you are.
Knowing who you are is more than just knowing your name, it’s knowing everything about yourself from what your basic needs are and how to meet them…to what uniquely brings your life meaning and fulfillment. And what’s important to know is that your needs and desires are different than others. What you are passionate about isn’t going to be what others are passionate about.
On the contrary, addiction is often the experience of not knowing yourself. It’s frequently an experience of running away – whether that’s literally running away or running away through drinking and drugging. And there’s often a reason why an addict wants to run: intense emotions, not liking oneself, not having the right coping mechanisms, or memories of experiences too difficult to bear. Addiction appears to be a continued experience of turning the other direction and keeping yourself from facing what really needs to be seen.
Yet, sober living is finally facing who you are. It’s not only facing who you are; it’s discovering who you are. Both discoveries can happen simultaneously. During the process of healing an addiction there is often a great uncovering of who one is. Healing addiction is also a process of getting honest, admitting that there is a problem, recognizing powerlessness to the addiction, being willing to change your character, identifying your shortcomings, and perhaps, making amends with those in the past that might have been hurt by the addiction.
Healing addiction is getting to know the following about yourself:
- Your basic needs and how to meet them
- What you like and dislike
- Your interests and passions
- Your triggers so that you know how to avoid them
- Your emotional pain so that you know how to tend to it in a healthy way
- The specific kinds of supports you need to continue your sober living (community, lots of exercise, family support, regular 12-step meetings, etc.)
- What your body needs to stay healthy such as when and what to eat and how often to exercise.
Perhaps this is why the 12-step method has been so successful. It includes steps to address not just the drinking but it asks that you dig deeper beneath healing the addiction alone; it asks that you heal yourself and your life. Moving through the 12 steps is in fact a process of getting to know yourself in and out. Along those lines, the process invites you to get to know yourself in relationship to a higher power, which is likely a new way of seeing yourself. Rather than having to bear your way through the challenges in your life; the 12 step program teaches you that having a higher power can help ease stress and emotional pain. “Let go and let God” is a common 12-step phrase.
Furthermore, the 12-step program invites you to get to know yourself in a new way in relationship to others. In fact, any program that includes developing a relationship with others, whether that is the Alcoholics Anonymous program or not, can facilitate healing. The support of others, such as participating in a support group or sober living home, can promote a feeling of connection, being a part of a group, and feeling welcome among those who are experiencing the same challenges. You don’t have to do this alone is often a feeling that new recovering addicts feel when they attend AA meetings for the first time.
Sober living is all about getting to yourself – that is, who you are uniquely compared to everyone else. And it’s getting to know yourself fully – the good and the bad – and learning to love yourself no matter what.
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