“I survived because the fire within me burned brighter than the fire around me.”
It really started for me last summer. I was reading a book called “The Miracle Morning.” TMM is all about starting your day with certain exercises (mental and physical) that will shape your day and, by extension, change your habits and ultimately your life. The exercises begin with meditation to calm your mind, then transition to affirmations (such as “I am a happy and healthy me and I am excited for the possibilities this day brings”) and eventually turn to visualizations. If you’re not familiar, visualization is simply thinking of something you want and picturing (“visualize”) it in your mind as clearly and vividly as you possibly can.
During one of these visualization sessions, I saw my ideal life. I saw the ideal me. He was happy, truly happy. He looked healthy and was physically fit. His relationships with his wife and sons were deep and rich and fulfilling. He had achieved the level of professional success he had wanted for many years. He was a person who was truly blessed and woke up each morning with a smile, grateful for the amazing life of abundance he was provided. Then, as I continued visualizing, I was no longer looking at the ideal me… I WAS the ideal me. I could feel the joy and peace and gratitude that radiated from every fiber of my being.
Then, the image was gone and I found myself sitting on my couch in the darkness of the pre-dawn day. I was me again. The real me. The me that felt frustrated and anxious and unfulfilled. Changes had to be made. And the more I meditated and practiced my visualizations, the more I realized there was a giant obstacle between me and the ideal life, the ideal me, that I had seen in my vision: alcohol. I was using booze as a crutch to avoid facing the difficult decisions and hard work that lay ahead of me, and I used booze as a tool of self-sabotage to ensure I never realized my dreams. Apparently, Colorand_v1 didn’t think he was worthy of achieving his ideal life.
So, I DECIDED (See Part 1) that it was time for my relationship with alcohol to change. I was committed to the process. And I knew I wanted to be alcohol free because sobriety was the key that was going to unlock the door to my amazing and, if I was truly willing to work for it, ideal life.
So, decision made, it was now time for Part 2 of my journey: Survive. Just like the title says, there isn’t a whole lot of glamor on this rung of the sobriety ladder. And let’s be completely honest: at times our AF journey is hard. Really fucking hard. Alcohol is pernicious and screws with our thinking and our behavior. But surviving means doing whatever you have to do in order to stay alcohol free. For me, it meant long walks, reading books, watching movies, reading and posting in my community , or rewarding myself with my favorite chocolate if I’d resisted those evening temptations. But, sometimes, it just meant clenching my jaw and white-knuckling it through the cravings until they passed, because the key to the survival phase is to start building momentum.
Every moment you stay alcohol free helps build momentum in your sobriety efforts. Think about a car sitting at the top of a very slight decline. At first, you are going to have to push with all of your might to get the car rolling. At times, it will be exhausting and frustrating and the movement may seem nearly imperceptible. But have faith, the car has started to roll and if you can string together those moments of sobriety, your little car will start to pick up speed. And as the little car starts rolling, it takes less and less of your effort to keep the momentum going. Until, one day, you realize the little sober car is propelling itself, all you’re doing is steering it around occasional obstacles.
As your little sober car builds up momentum, and for the first time since your relationship with alcohol became unhealthy, you are getting a taste of the most amazing drink there is: freedom. A life free of the chains that alcohol uses to shackle us to our unfulfilled lives. With your newfound freedom comes possibility and the opportunity to create the life you really want. Which takes us to Part 3 – Now Thrive.
[Special thanks to Belle for the little car metaphor and to WarriorWingy for introducing me to Belle. The car metaphor is particularly appropriate in our AF journey and I have used that image repeatedly in my previous posts.]
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