The first thing that I’m thinking of today at 30 days sober is “What’s at your 6?”.
My husband, who is former military, periodically looks behind us while we hike. He wants to know what’s coming up on us and if it’s a concern (bear, mountain lion or just a happy hiker). He taught me that it’s important to “check my 6,“ which I found originated from the US Air Force and means to check for danger at the position directly behind you (at your 6 o’clock). I try to remember this while I’m out, and it was reinforced to me in the self defense class I took. It’s really about awareness of your situation so that you aren’t ambushed. Our self defense instructor said it was being at a condition yellow awareness. Alert and prepared, yet relaxed in your environment.
I’ve thought a lot about my security and awareness in regard to being AF(alcohol-free) lately. When it comes to quitting alcohol a lot of us use war terminology. We have sober fox hole buddies, we’re sober warriors against a sly and slippery beast, we face the daily happy hour on our own figurative battlefields. Maybe we use fierce words because fighting an addictive substance really is like going to war.
It’s not the actual can or bottle of alcohol that stands opposed to us though, it’s ourselves that we face off with. When we check our 6 in recovery, the enemy is coming from within. It could be our childhood sneaking up on us to say we’re unworthy after a disappointment. It may be the lifestyle we were sold as rich and sophisticated when it’s our turn to celebrate. It could be a loss or serious hurt that we desperately want to bury or It could be how we’ve conditioned our brains to soothe or cap off the end of the day.
In the first 30 days sober and further along the road, these things stand at our 6 ready to catch us off guard. Some don’t even try to hide, they are comfortable being there because we’ve tired of the desire to be aware of their danger or we never saw them as dangerous to start with. Think about the alcohol advertisements, how much time do they spend on the physical attributes of a drink as compared to triggering our emotions or altering our perspectives? Does the adorned container or mountains turning blue hold your attention or do the beautiful volleyball players, beaches and intertwined couples snag you by making you think of youth, fun or excitement?
The good thing about this is, unlike an enemy with a hidden playbook, ours is open to us to explore. Cover to cover. We just have to dig a little to see where our triggers lie. Every slip is also a resource of information. The what, the how, the who can lead us to the why. Instead of being demoralized we can be victorious by taking what we’ve learned and using it to create new ways to defeat the lurking beast.
I’m in the early days of sobriety, 30 days sober today, so please understand my warlike mentality. I’m probably more at a condition orange of awareness. I know there’s something out there and I’m on high alert scanning for it. I think about HALT, and all the things like it, that may be inching up to take me down. I feel compelled to find my own inner version of Athena who is goddess of war, strategy, and also peace. I need to know what is at my six. What is positioned in a way that takes aim at my sobriety, whether it’s designed for a slow chipping away or is targeting for a direct hit. I fought my way here and I do not want to lose any ground.
This is serious business. We are our own generals, warrior princess, grunts, front line soldiers and medics all at once. There’s peace, calm and reward to enjoy… much more than there was while drinking and It requires protection. So, I will keep all my guards and gargoyles in place and at the ready, watching my six and protecting my quit.
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