It was an extremely liberating experience to put down alcohol, drugs, food or whatever was our drug of choice. For years we had come to rely on substances to get us through the day. Initially, this life plan worked well for us. Many of us had been searching for the answer to the struggles and pains of life. Over time however our drug of choice exhibited diminishing returns. Finally, we were using because we had become totally dependent on alcohol, food or drugs; and the discomforts of life were ever present.
In sobriety we no longer had to turn to substances. We were finally free of our addiction to our drug of choice. As we continued to work the program, we realized that our dependence on drugs and alcohol was only the tip of the iceberg. Many of us were entangled in extremely codependent relationships. We were also dependent on life always going according to our plan. As we grew in sobriety, that dependence on people places and things began to diminish. We came to truly understand what “acceptance” was all about. As that occurred, over time we instituted our own personal Declaration of Independence.
Personal Reflection: How independent am I really?
For a long time our lives were put on hold. While we were active in our addiction, we stayed stuck like an ancient ant caught in amber. The day’s changed but the end results were always the same.
When we finally put down the drink, drug or food, we suddenly faced the fact that we had not progressed for years and sometimes decades. We followed the advice of our sponsor and got a medical check up, perhaps the first one in many years. Some of us embarked on a decluttering campaign. It felt good to able to let go of “stuff” for the first time in a long time. The real work began as we integrated back into society. After that pink cloud wore off, we realized that we lacked many of the basic tools of life. Perhaps, initially we called our sponsor for advice regarding the simplest of decisions. There reached a point however where we needed to fly solo so to speak. This was definitely a learning curve for us. Along the way we made some mistakes, in fact some pretty big ones. But that was ok; because we discovered the joy of being an independent, productive member of society. We began to be able to rely on our own sober judgment for making decisions, and had many successes as a result.
Personal Reflection: Do I still rely too much on others in making decisions?
We turned to drugs and alcohol because many of us suffered from low self esteem. We,thought that by taking a substance, our feelings of being less than would go away. Perhaps it initially worked. Over time however, we found that using substances actually had the opposite effect. They only magnified our feelings of not belonging and of inferiority.
In early sobriety these feelings still dogged us. Upon reflection, we realized that these feelings of inferiority pre dated our substance use. Just giving up our drug of choice was not enough. We needed to become comfortable in our own skins. This meant accepting ourselves with all of our defects of character. For those of us who were perfectionist, this was often a bit of a challenge. In the past, we bent over backwards to get the approval of certain people because we believed that their approval would validate us. As we grew emotionally and spiritually we came to see that validation could only come from within. How we felt about ourselves really wasn’t dependent on anyone save ourselves. Over time we began to let go of our desire to gain the approval of others. We “were enough”, and at the same time we strove to improve ourselves.
Personal Reflection: Do I still seek the approval of others?