For the first several months (or even years) of sobriety, you are so focused on the daily work that comes with recovery. Getting up and out of bed with purpose when it used to be getting out of bed at all. Drinking hot lemon water instead of that late-morning beer that served to take the edge off the hangover. Spending your day doing activities that grow you instead of shrink or destroy you. Finding productive ways to fill your days instead of wasting time drinking, drugging, or numbing out. When you finally feel a little more solid in your recovery, you can start to look around and wonder, “what’s next?” Different people will come to this place at different times along the journey but the question is inevitably asked… Is there more to this new life? Without sounding condescending, the short answer is OF COURSE! But, the size of the life you want and the content within requires a little bit more.
Essentially, the answer to this question will require you to do some soul searching. What DO you want out of this life? You walked through (and survived) the fire of addiction for a reason, you just KNOW it. At times, I have felt frustrated as I contemplated this question. For me, it always begs more questions. “Is there a ‘right’ way to do life?” “What if I decide on something and it’s wrong for me, or what if I choose a path and end up hating it down the road?” “What if I disappoint _____ (insert name or person here)?” Even these questions can bring more questions and can send you into a spiral of self-doubt and insecurity. Maybe me asking you the question “What’s next?” has brought up some feelings of anxiety. Rest assured you are in the normal range. But let’s get past the anxiety and lean into the discomfort. Let’s dig for answers.
Some of what you write can be used to create your visions for the future.
Get out of your head and on to the page
The solution for me has always been to journal. When I feel something, anything, I write it down. Even if my end goal is to tear the paper up and throw it away as soon as I pen the last word. Just the process of getting the thoughts and emotions out of my head bring renewal and clarity. Sometimes I will start writing with one purpose in mind and the content of the writing ends up achieving a completely different purpose. Sometimes, I have a-ha moments. Journaling has been a practice of mine since I was about 10 years old. However, it wasn’t until my early 40s and 4+ years into recovery that I started writing to really grow and to explore.
Try it out. When you are feeling uneasy, anxious, depressed, anything you would call “uncomfortable”, grab a pen and a piece of paper (or heck, your laptop or phone if that’s all you have access to) and start writing the words that come to you. Start with the feelings if you are lost for words. Are you sad? Why? Are you feeling anxious about something? Why? Keep asking why until you get a little deeper and really begin to discover some hidden truths.
Feelings and emotions serve to teach us something. Maybe about a belief we hold that no longer serves us. Maybe about a situation we find ourselves in that we are no longer satisfied with. Maybe a yearning to be something bigger than we are allowing ourselves to be right now. Some of what you write can be used to create your visions for the future. The best thing is that when thoughts are written out, you don’t have to worry about remembering them. They’re all right there for you should you ever need them. And I just have a feeling you’re going to need them in this amazing new life of yours!
Always Here to Support You,