Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Committment, literally, is NOT a four letter word

One of the major blunders people make in seeking abstinence/sobriety is a fear of the big "C" word, committment. If you or someone you know has tried to get clean time and time again, without success, it is most likely the case that a desire has been present, but a failure to practice new, sometimes frightening behaviors.

Change without action is dead.

That being said, when a person is on his/her last leg of life, wishing he/she could either die or stop using, it is a far cry from when that same person has been clean a few days/weeks/months and decides that the former effort is uneccessary.

The truth is, that no matter how long you have been clean/sober/ the amount of effort you have had to put into that time (even if you are only a few hours in) will be the amount of effort that is required to maintain it. Certainly, the form will change, but, in most cases, the output of energy will not.

I'll use myself as an example. I have stomcah problems. I don't like having stomach problems, but I also don't like to give up the things I need to give up in order to have said stomach problems miraculously dissapear. I've had stomach surgery. Still, I don't want to give these things up. Hmmm..not such a bright idea.

Recently, my stomach pain had been so unbearable that I vowed to give up the following: all dairy, eggs, wheat, any gluten products and all caffeine. Wow! That sounds like a lot, but I was driven by pain to change.

I started feeling really proud of myself, really on top of the world. 5 days no caffeine, 7 days no gluten..then, this weekend, now that I am feeling less bloated, less exhausted and zero stomach pain, I have this bright idea that coffee might be great.

All of the thoughts you might have about using your drug of choice went through my mind. "Well, i probably 'don't' have a stomach problem because I am feeling good now," or "Feeling good is so uneventful, this is kind of boring. I can handle the pain," or, and this is my personal favorite, 'I DESERVE COFEE BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE CAN HAVE IT....LIFE STINKS IT ISN'T FAIR..."

Hmmm...how is that for some bizarre thinking?

Well, I, didn't indulge in the caffeine, because I know myself well enough to know now that those are self-defeating voices and that caffeine for me is the opposite of my commitment to myself. I had to put out the engery to remind myself why I'd done this, to keep myself from faultering on the very commitment I'd made to myself and to my health.

And, even though I didn't drink the bloody coffee, that other "C" word still scares me if I don't break it down into pieces.

So, how does one pare through this committment word and be okay with it?

How can someone stay sober or abstinent for years?

Well, what seems to work is this:


This may sound counter-intuitive, but here is how it works.

When you decide to get clean and sober, remind yourself you aren't trapped or stuck, you are CHOOSING to change..this gives you power back that you have given over to drugs and alcohol (or your preferred substance).

Then, as each sober day passes by, don't think about it, other than doing the normal things you do to keep yourself happy, clean and sober.

When you mind gets sick of you taking care of yourself, and the addict mind always does, then, pull out the committment word for yourself, choose to launch yourself into another phase of recovery, and remind yourself that if you indulge, you will have to commit all over again.

Ahhh..And, really, who wants to do that?

The worst part of committing is often making the initial decision. The longer you commit, the shorter time you have left to do it. Before you know it, you will be clean/sober longer than you haven't, even if it seems like a lifetime, and then you won't want to start this process all over again.

And, for today, I am still caffeine, gluten, dairy, egg, meat free!!!!

One more tip for today, make a list of all the things you CAN do, besides your drug of choice when you are clean! That will turn your thinking around quicker than might imagine.

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