I Know There’s a Pony in Here Somewhere! Sober Survival Skills

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When life gives you excrement

You know the tale (tail?) of the optimistic child who saw lots of horse excrement in the barn and was so excited he started shoveling because:

There’s a pony in here somewhere !

For us ( those of us trying to stop drinking and stay sober), booze is the excrement covering up MORE excrement!

First the bad news: Shame from childhood, shame from blackouts, shame from several-day benders, horrible relationships, shame for being alive and on and on.

Second: the good news. Everyone, I mean everyone, experiences shame. Definitely universal. However, the more we shovel the more we see worthiness, confidence, commitment, empathy, compassion. The rewards are endless once we get past the agony of the first days or weeks of sobriety.

Grab that shovel cause there’s a pony in there somewhere!

Shovel #1: Quit taking myself so seriously! From a blemish on my face, cooking a mediocre dinner, tripping, zipper down, gossip to bouncing a check, I just knew the world was going to end! I’m so powerful! And when I wasn’t powerful, guzzle the booze. Am I pushing through life (exhausting) or moving gently and compassionately?

Did someone hurt my feelings? It says more about them than about me. Let the feelings settle. “Let me think about this.” If true, take action. If not, grab the shovel and shovel away.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as WE ARE.”

Life is so much nicer now that I laugh at myself. Grab that laughter shovel and share with BOOM, your beloved, your children. Put on a stupid movie. Color, tell stories with your child or grandchild. Try to hold a spoon on your nose. My son and I did this on our Friday Date Night at his favorite burger joint. Even the waitress gave it a go. Life is to be enjoyed. Life is supposed to be silly sometimes.

Shovel #2: Gratefulness. Sadly, lacking when drinking. Once early sobriety has been managed, color returns to life. On Boom, we have a daily opportunity to post what we’re grateful for. We may not feel grateful, but we know we are, and the feelings of contentment catch up. I get why some alcoholics say they’re grateful they are alcoholics. No one said it happened overnight. It takes shoveling!

Shovel #3: Health. Mental, spiritual and physical health return. Approval-seeking means I don’t trust myself. Proved it every time I drank. No more! I approve of being sober. I approve of building a healthy life. I approve of companioning another on this challenging sobriety journey. Even better, starting to like myself. Want a cheap face lift? Smile. Keep it up for a while and amazing things happen. You start to feel joyful.

Shovel #4: Responsibility. I really like this quote: “But God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies the called.”  Mark Patterson. Whether a believer or not, this proves true. Look at all the growth Boom participants have demonstrated through their posts. This is because we accepted responsibility for our sobriety, families, work, and growth. Irresponsibility is: Resistance to change—resistance to pain. Once we are sober, we must accept and commit or we will drink. Once we are sober, we must address pain or we will drink.

Shovel #5: Fertilizer. Fertilizer makes plants, flowers, and trees grow. Shovel the past into helping another. Don’t cancel yourself. The past is not all you are. The past may be hard to bear, but it brought you here and many are where you were. Share, others need your words, and if nothing else, others won’t feel alone. We won’t feel alone.  Plant something with that fertilizer and watch it grow.

Shovel #6: Exercise. Just think about those toned arms you’ll have! Seriously, whether it’s a light walk, cleaning, gardening or you’re one of those people that go to the gym, it improves attitude as well as the body. A sense of accomplishment.

Shovel #7: Celebrate! Every day. From patting yourself on the back, sharing your success with another, dinner out, book or movie or something a bit more extravagant. Celebrate! There’s always something that we take for granted, especially ourselves, that deserves recognition. You’re not shoveling! There’s the pony!

Giddy up! Will you ride sober with me today?

“For one to fly, one needs only to take the reins.”

Melissa James


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