While we often feel unique in our personal battle with addiction, one thing all addicts have in common is our love for chaos. Some of us actually enjoy the drama that comes with our drug use, while others simply don’t know how to function without it.
I have to admit, some days I wonder how I’ve managed to stay sober without all of the chaos I once had in my life. Nowadays, the only real chaos I encounter takes place at the end of each day when I’m scrambling to get my baby bathed, fed and ready for bed.
Before determining how to deal with chaos, you first need to identify which kind of chaos you're dealing with: created or uncontrollable.
During one period of my active addiction, I found it possible to maintain a pretty decent-paying job. I made enough money to support my drug habit, as well as rent and gas and the occasional latte.
During this period, when I still considered my addiction manageable, I would go out of my way to create chaos. I would steal from my parents even though I didn’t need to. I created problems at work, once storming out of the building and then calling later and crying for my job back. I’d make comments to other employees and friends of mine that would cause conflict and upheaval in my life.
All these things I was doing is what I like to call "created chaos." In reality, my life was already chaotic because of the poor choices I was making, but it was never crazy enough for me.
After getting sober, I realized that the chaotic areas of my life were slowly dissipating. Once sober, I no longer went out of my way to create chaos. In fact, now that I'm in sober recovery, I try not to be confrontational at all. Though I sometimes notice that I still unintentionally want to create a little craziness, I have learned healthier ways to address these issues.
Here are four solutions I've found that may help you avoid creating chaos:
- Find the reason you are creating the chaos. Why do you need drama in your life? Is something missing or are you just bored?
- Once you find the reason why you feel the urge to create chaos, immediately do what is necessary to eliminate the problem you have created. If you have lashed out at someone close to you, apologize and mend the quarrel.
- Find something to replace the reason you were trying to manufacture chaos. If you're bored, take up a new hobby. Or, like me, you may want to do a little bit of cleaning or maybe start tuning in to a new TV series.
- Spend more time with your family or spouse. Sometimes we create chaos because we lack attention, so it’s important to be open and honest with yourself and your loved ones about how you are feeling.
It may just be human nature that makes us like a little drama in our lives, but even if you don't create your own drama, you may find that drama kind of produces itself as a natural part of life.
While created chaos is of our own making, uncontrollable chaos is completely out of our hands. Chaos has a way of coming along all on its own. After being sober for a good amount of time, you’ll realize that problems can arise all by themselves.
When the car breaks down, your spouse catches the flu, and the baby gets an ear infection--all in the same week--you’ll remember the chaos you once created all on your own, and wonder why you ever felt the need to do that.
Here are four healthy ways to handle uncontrollable chaos.
- Understand that some things are necessary or inevitable. Life is going to happen regardless of what you put in your body or don’t put into your body. If drinking isn’t going to fix your broken car, then take a minute to consider the next step that will fix your car.
- Take a moment to relax and center yourself. Sit down and take a couple of deep breaths. Walk away from a situation and collect yourself. The baby is okay to cry for a couple of moments. If your car is broken, it certainly isn’t going to go anywhere while you take a couple of minutes for yourself.
- Write out your options. A written list can give you a clearer idea of alternatives to whatever the problem is, and will give you the chance to see rather than assume what you know.
- Ask for help! The healthiest solution to a problem is to ask for help, especially if you know you need it. You cannot assume that someone won’t help you, because as we have learned in sober recovery programs, asking for help is humbling and can provide the answer you never expected.
Sometimes we create the problems, and sometimes the problems flow to us; it’s not for us to worry about what comes our way, but to focus on how we handle things. When we realize that relapse is no longer an option every time we face a challenge, we take time to figure out the healthiest ways to handle problems or issues.
We don't need to create added chaos, we just need to learn to deal with the natural and uncontrollable chaos that comes our way, and resolve it in the healthiest way possible.