As a mechanic by trade, the best way for me to describe the transition from drinking every day for 17 years to being sober is like running an engine without oil. During my addiction, alcohol took away the friction of life and carried the heat away. When I was freshly detoxed and drained of all oil, stress, anxiety, and fear ran through me without protection.
I quickly found myself boxed in a corner and forced to find a new way to handle life or go back to the way I was before. It wasn’t a very difficult decision to make since going back to the way things were meant returning to the thing that tore apart my 13-year marriage and left my carrier dangling by a thin thread.
In order to find a new way to live, I had to fight with all I had left and make some life adjustments. Here are the 3 things that have been helpful for me in my first four months of recovery and got me back on the road and running.
1. Thinking Outside of the Box
I had to stop internalizing everything and trying to do everything myself. Therefore, I had to reach outside of myself and release what was bottled up inside. I had to stop obsessing about things that were out of my control and work with what was in front of me. To me, this is what the 12-steps do for you—a sort of internal cleansing and learning to rely on something greater than yourself. Of course, this is different for different people but I believe the idea is the same. Reach out for help, help others, and do the next right thing to the best of your ability. And if you make a mistake, admit it apologize and go on.
Now I don’t mean you have to go on a diet or get buff. I just mean go outside, get your heart rate above resting and keep it there for a while. I go for walks for hours or just step outside for as long as I can. It is also a wonderful way to spend time with loved ones and catch up on their day. Exercising also helps me sleep better at night and gives me something to look forward to. During my time in the military, running was a part of life and I enjoyed it so getting back out and being active feels good.
This is a hard one for me. In the past, my way of relaxing had always involved getting inebriated so in the beginning, I could hardly imagine being able to relax without drinking—but I had to. I had heard a lot about meditating and deep breathing techniques to calm the mind and body and thought them both to be a bit weird. But through it, I have learned how to relax, not worry about anything and just enjoy the moment. And it works. If I feel myself getting worked up and stress building I can now just calm down and look at things from a clearer perspective.
There were times in my first four months of recovery when I felt I couldn’t make it, but it always got better and I have made it. I believe these three adjustments to one’s lifestyle will make recovery much easier. Today, I no longer feel like an engine running without oil, but in order to be here, I had to make my own oil.