At one point I was still drinking alcohol every single day, struggling to get clean and sober, and it just so happened that I made the decision to stop drinking on the first of the year. This was more coincidence than it was resolution.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone. It could be a resolution that starts you on the path to recovery.
Based on the emails that I receive from this website, I know for a fact that a good sized group of my readers are still struggling to get sober. They have not yet made the leap of faith into sobriety. And I say that it is a leap of faith because basically, the alcoholic has to trust that they will not be miserable if they stick to sobriety. Because when we first stop drinking, we are miserable. There is no joy in surrender….not when it is happening to you anyway. Sure you can look back and see it as a glorious moment–but when you are stuck in the first few days of sobriety, life is not much fun. At all. It takes a certain amount of faith to get through this rough patch.
Photo by Roberto_Lineros
Creative recovery is all about pushing yourself to grow in recovery, learn new things, and attain a better life for yourself in recovery. This is a fantastic approach to long term sobriety, but it honestly did not have much impact on me when I was still drinking. I did not think that “an awesome life” was something that I could attain. I did not want an awesome life. I wanted oblivion. I wanted a an unlimited supply of drugs and alcohol and for the world to just leave me alone. I could not really be motivated by the lure of “a creative life in recovery.” Who cares? I was past the “fun stage” and into the “misery stage” of my addiction. I was trapped on a hamster wheel but too scared to jump off, especially when I could not picture myself living sober (without being miserable).
Of course, anyone who gets clean and sober and manages to stick it out for a few months will start to care. Life gets interesting again. Things start to matter. Relationships start to matter. Family starts to matter. And of course, your future starts to matter. And suddenly you are living a life that you never thought you could ever get back to. You are enjoying life without drugs and alcohol. Woo-hoo! You made it!
Now, how to hang on to it?
So many people get a small taste of sobriety, only to relapse. So many people struggle to string together a meaningful amount of clean time and growth, such that their recovery starts to strengthen from positive reinforcement (success breeding more success as you achieve new things in recovery).
How do we make it over this hump? How do we reach a point of continuous, holistic growth?
For me, it took what it took–which was long term rehab. I had to live in treatment. But clearly, this is not a catch-all solution, because many, many people fail in long term rehab as well. When we say that there is no magic bullet, we really mean that there is no sure-fire path to success. None at all. Anyone can potentially relapse, no matter how good their recovery may appear to be on the surface. If they are still tangled up on the inside, hanging on to major resentments, or prone to self pity and victim mentality, then it does not matter what approach they take to get sober. They are going to drink again unless they can find a way to move past these demons and start making positive growth on a daily basis.
I lived in long term rehab for long enough to find my footing and realize that I was going to have to create my own momentum and motivation for a positive life. So I talk about success in long term recovery as being “creative living.” I believe that anyone who can maintain long term sobriety and not be miserable is going to be actively creating the life they really want. How could it be otherwise? If they settle for mediocrity or having circumstances dictated to them then they will become resentful eventually.
And what defines “mediocrity” in recovery? How do we define “the life we really want?” It does not have to be about over-achieving or climbing mountains or anything. For example, take the recovering alcoholic who is active in sponsorship, or maybe someone in recovery who is living their dream of teaching children now that they are sober.
What I was witnessing in the traditional recovery community was basically relapse through complacency. Recovering addicts and alcoholics, all around me, were struggling to attain a meaningful, exciting life. This is not what I wanted, nor was it how I wanted to live. I wanted something more than the expected, typical, hum-drum existence that I saw from the vast majority of those in traditional recovery.
And so the idea of creative recovery comes into play. “Creative recovery” is just a label of course….there are many “winners” in traditional recovery, all of whom are actively creating a purposeful life that they are excited about living.
If you are ready for this “next level” of recovery in 2010, then start taking positive action today and create the life that you really want for yourself. Use holistic growth as your main guideline and seek to improve yourself in any way that you can. Exercise, nutrition, fitness, relationships, spirituality, emotional balance, helping others….the list is endless and the rewards are right there for the taking.
Just don’t think about it too much. Thinking about recovery is almost completely useless. It is action that drives results. Creation implies action.
Go create something positive.