Your first day of sobriety is not likely to have you “actively and purposefully creating a new life for yourself.”
In the beginning, it’s all we can do to stay sober at first, and we might just scrape by and manage to hand on to our new-found sobriety with gritted teeth.
This is normal, of course. It’s why we have detox centers and residential treatment programs. It takes time to transition into purposeful living.
Why do we need purposeful living? Why the need to “actively create a new life for ourselves?” Can’t we just stay sober and go on living?
Based on my experience, you can’t. This is also true based on what I’ve observed in other people. One of the central principles of the creative theory of recovery is that it is not enough to merely eliminate drugs and alcohol and all of the negative behaviors that came along with our addiction, but instead we need to replace, we need to live with purpose, we need to create.
Here is the breakdown on creating with positive action:
1) Transitional period – When you first get clean and sober, you’re still a bit dazed and confused. It might take a matter of months or even years before the fog clears and you get to a point where you can actively create more than just a life of abstinence from chemicals.
In the transitional period, the goal is to stay clean and sober long enough to “give yourself a chance.” It can take a bit of time to find your creative footing.
2) Figure out what you want in your life – You probably don’t know right off the bat. I know I sure didn’t. I was so miserable from using drugs and alcohol every day, chasing my own tail, and had no real hope or joy or aspirations to look forward to in life. I had to start living again, slowly, in order to get to a point where I could start to plan and create and set goals with a real purpose behind them.
3) Create it – Recovery isn’t about avoiding drugs and alcohol, it’s about living life. In my early recovery, I took a suggestion and got a job helping other people. At the time, it was helping the developmentally disabled, and that was pretty neat. But as I stayed clean and sober, I started to figure out what I wanted, and that was to help recovering addicts and alcoholics. So I eventually transitioned to working in a treatment center, and also to writing on this website. Those were both creative actions.
Another creation of mine in recovery was a smoke-free life. For years I struggled to quit smoking, but continuously failed. Then I got an idea: what if I started the habit of jogging first, while I was still smoking? Would that be enough to help me to quit finally?
Yes it was. And over 2 years later, I can see that I was actually utilizing the creative theory (the replacement strategy, to be exact) to replace the high from cigarettes with the “high” from vigorous exercise.
Notice how I failed when I merely tried to quit smoking, but found success when I started employing the creative theory of recovery (without even knowing what it was).
There is more to creation: this is the tip of the iceberg
I realize most of you are probably wanting more clarification and examples of exactly how to go about “creating with positive action.” This is a broad topic that is going to take a lot more detailed explanation. More will be explained in the “creative process of recovery” series that is yet to come. Please feel free to share any thoughts you have in the comments below.