Being newly sober is both exciting and terrifying. We have finally escaped the grips of addiction and now we have a brand-new life to build and begin living. Things can get overwhelming, though, as there is so much baggage sitting right in front of us that has to be dealt with.
Where do we start? Prioritizing is surely needed at the time of early recovery, and hopefully I can sort some of that out for you.
Change is vital
Surrender is the most important part of recovery. It’s the first thing we need to do before anything else. Surrender means I am acknowledging that I do not know what I need to do in order to get and stay sober. The clear solution to not knowing is not only to reach out for help and accept guidance, but to accept that a lot of things are going to have to change.
I could list what has to change, but to be honest, it’s probably going to be everything. What is important is to be open to change in any area of your life. Change is very uncomfortable, but walking through discomfort leads to major growth, especially during recovery.
A support network
An extremely common misconception for people in early recovery is that they think they can do it by themselves. I always ask people, “If you can do it yourself, don’t you think you would have done it already?”
Having a group of people you can turn to at any moment is absolutely life-changing. Many of us have lived very isolated lives during the last few years of addiction, so having a group of others in recovery who want nothing else but to help you can feel extremely refreshing and make you more secure about your sobriety.
Many facilities offer alumni programs that allow you to connect with other people who went through the same treatment centre, creating an immediate and important connection to others. Initially, you are not going to want to meet new people; once you do, though, you will see how quickly you bond with others because you are on the same journey. I’ve met my absolute best and closest friends this way.
Sit down and be humble
It’s hard to be humble, especially for us thick-skulled addicts and alcoholics. Humility can also be a complicated thing to talk about, as many people have different interpretations.
I keep it simple: Humility, to me, means to remain teachable in all areas of life. Find someone sober who has what you want in life, and ask them what you need to do—and it is absolutely integral to actually listen to what they say. There will be times when you cannot disagree more with the suggestions they give you, but you should follow their advice anyway.
The first few times I did something that I was advised to do, but in no way wanted to, were huge moments of growth in my life.
Be kind to yourself
I remember, in early recovery, having this preconceived notion that I had to be perfect now that I was sober. I was starting to learn about spirituality and the concept of ‘just do the next right thing.’ I am my own worst enemy and critic, and anytime I made a mistake, I completely beat myself up about it and thought of myself as ‘less than.’
Some of the most valuable feedback I have ever been given is from people who have been sober for years or even decades, and they talk about all the really dumb things they have done in sobriety. I need to know that I am not expected to be perfect, and that because we are all human, we are all going to make mistakes—sometimes big ones!
When you have moments where you feel you are messing up, reach out to someone, but also take a look at your current life. Are you sober? Are you trying your best? What could you learn from your mistakes? What are you grateful for?
Write it all down. Start becoming aware of the negative talk in your own mind and begin inserting positive talk, as it can really be beneficial. Love yourself because you are worthy of love.