I am a hopeful addict looking at the sea
I think about the hopelessness of addicts and people in new recovery a lot because I live by the sea. Seeing it every day is an endless reminder of natural beauty, serenity, and my insignificance. When you can’t see beauty, you are hopeless. When people are actively using, they lose their ability to feel joy and to see beauty. Without it, it’s hard to find your way through the darkness. I pitch a recovery lifestyle as the answer to addiction and un-wellness, and I want to be clear that hope is at the core of the lifestyle and it can be done at every level and price.
Addiction and mental illness are the ultimate levelers
Addiction and mental illness are the perfect example of how drugs or mental breakdowns can take anyone down – rich, poor, white, black, celebrity, banker, etc. But here’s the problem, we can all be afflicted the same because addiction doesn’t choose you by class, color, or sexual identity, but we can’t all heal the same. How do you get treatment if you’re in an environment that doesn’t celebrate recovery, or worse, reviles it? How do you heal if the people around you are also sick and can’t or won’t get help? How do you get better when there’s no sea to look at, but just a brick wall of the building next to you?
Become a hopeful addict by remembering how to dream
We spend billions on addiction recovery but what difference does it make if no one on Skid Row in LA sees it? The wealthy can afford the kind of treatment that has higher chances of success. How do I know? I went to Sierra Tucson and Promises, saw Park Ave life coaches and Johns Hopkins trained psychiatrists. I had therapists and yoga classes and meditation studios. Shoot, I even started playing with crystals. Point is, I’m in recovery, happy about it, and built a life I love. And, I’m sitting here writing about it because I’m worried not enough people understand the scope that hope plays here, yes pun intended!
What the hell do you do when there’s no hope for that kind of recovery??
- You set a goal
What do I want? I want to get sober. I want to get out of this relationship. I want to stop bingeing and purging. I want to make more money. I want a job at all. I want to wake up without a hangover and fear and shame and whatever else tortures us when we’re not well. It may seem like a big goal but just write it down.
2. Make an action plan
You want to stop drinking. Try AA, Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery, Dharma Recovery, whatever. Choose one and make a friggin’ friend. They’ll help you along. The relationship issue? Start getting real about what can be done or undone or call a professional for help deciding. Food issue, call a nutritionist. There are people who work at all levels and prices. 12 step programs and many non-profits have free programs. STOP WAITING FOR IT TO GET BETTER. It won’t. Start dealing with it and in one year you’ll have a totally different life.
3. Find a buddy
There are people who have gone through what you’re going through and they will help you. This is where being vulnerable comes into play. This is where the rubber meets the road. Can you raise your hand in that meeting and ask for help? Can you actually use that app to help you meditated through the day? You’ll have a better chance of doing any of this if you find either a professional or another person in recovery who can help you on this journey. At the core of this is a connection, to other people, to a higher power, to becoming a better version of yourself because it’s possible and why the hell not try?
Start with small acts that make you feel good. Like burning incense and listening to flute music? yes, let’s get weird. Five minutes of yoga online, ten minutes of a recovery book or recording, a skincare routine, a bedtime or morning routine where you figure out how to start or end your day with a moment of quiet. I’m not even talking about feeling happy yet, I’m just saying, stop the noise. Stop the pain. Give yourself the resources (the recovery tools) to stop picking at your own body and step outside to see what’s out there. When you practice these little daily self-care routines you will get better whether you want to or not.
5. Learn to dream again
My dreams got beat down, then they got beat down again, then again…It’s not about failure, it’s about getting up to try again. Trust me, no one is watching, and if they are, maybe you’re inspiring something good. I remember the moment someone asked me to do something I said I wouldn’t do again because I felt my heart had been broken by it. In trying again, I found my own success. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes life gives you enough until you have everything you need. But starting to dream again was wild. It’s like when your heart heals from a break-up and you can see straight again. Letting myself imagine all the things I wanted again was magical. I know how much it hurts when you’ve been through abuse or trauma. I know how easy it is to zone out and leave the room. But, that won’t change your life and I think you want change in your life.
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