So far, on our path to easy sobriety, I have talked about how choice plays a key role in our ability to confidently walk down our sober path. It is imperative that the choice we make to live well and free from addiction is made from our truest and most real selves and that we make that choice for nobody or nothing but ourselves. Once we know we have made the right choice, we are then able to gather the knowledge necessary to support our independent journey. The knowledge we garner may be different for everyone, but the most important aspect of knowledge is that we find information that we can buy into and that we can trust to help arm ourselves while battling the unforeseen problems that may arise. That knowledge affords us the ability to live with the attitude that we have already quit. We walk with confidence and security knowing we have already completed our desired task. We use positive and affirming terminology to define who and where we are on our path of sobriety. Lastly, as I have written in many of my blogs, connection plays one of the most vital roles in our sobriety journey. As Johan Hari states in his Ted Talk, "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection."
One of the most obvious correlations with connection is our connections with other humans. In this instance, it is not the connections we make with others who are going through what we are going through that is important. It is the connections we make with others who have already gone through what we are going through. I think this is an important distinction because, in my limited experience, people going through the beginning stages of sobriety may not have the best tools in their toolbox to help guide us over and around the obstacles, we may find along our sober path. This may sound counter-intuitive because we have heard so much about the meetings people go to in order to stay the course, but bear with me. If we are newly walking our sober paths and we are feeling strong but maybe not fully equipped, the last thing we need is to witness the falling of someone who was not ready to begin their journey. While we obviously empathize with and want to help anyone who is attempting to live free from addiction, if we are not yet there ourselves, we may not be ready to aid in someone's journey and vice versa.
I was lucky because my wife and I embarked on the same journey while making the same choice armed with the same knowledge that allowed us to walk with the same attitude through our journey; in essence, we had a built-in connection that helped facilitate our sobriety. Other's may not have that built-in connection, but I can attest to how powerful it can be. Some of the traditional programs have the sponsorship aspect which generally consists of a person who has been through their journey and has come out on the other side. This person is meant to help guide you along your path of sobriety. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, we are not all the same and not all programs are written for all people. If a traditional program is not for you, that is okay and even encouraged; we all have to find our own programs that support our beliefs, backgrounds, and truths. Nevertheless, I believe the human connection piece is a universal requirement on the path toward easy sobriety.
There are a couple of options when thinking about who we can surround ourselves with that may have the tools necessary to help us in our recovery. The most obvious is to find someone who is sober and who has been confidently walking their sober path for quite some time. You will be surprised to find who in your daily life is and has been sober for long periods of time. If I am honest, those people who don't talk about it are the people I am seeking out. They are the ones who have found their way and no longer even have a desire or need to engage in the conversation. My wife is one of these people. She doesn't have the same desires I have to continue engaging in the conversation because to her, it is no longer a part of her makeup. She does not even associate herself with alcohol anymore and is happy to simply walk down her path with the intention of living well in other ways. Someone like this will gladly take you in and help you along your journey, but they may not do so by talking the sober talk, they will most likely teach by showing you how to live well, not by how to live without alcohol; there is a difference.
I on the other hand, like many others, am walking as confidently down my path as my wife, but I am still very much engaged in the conversation because I am fascinated by it. I am the type of person who will talk the sober talk because it is what I used to change my relationship with alcohol. My writing a blog every day about my experiences with sobriety was one of the ways I kept on my path. Through my writing, I met others who were experiencing similar things and people who pushed against my experiences; all of which helped keep me on track. I am the type of connection who will try and point out all of the absurdities of alcohol in an effort to try and divert your attention away from what you once believed were rational thoughts about alcohol. I will try and help you see that everything you thought you knew about alcohol was a lie.
Regardless of the type of human connection you make, it is important for that connection to be with someone who is confident, secure, and who has the knowledge to help keep you on your sober path, regardless of their specific methodology. Be open to a variety of different connections, the connection that works for you may come in the form of a connection with whom you may not normally associate. Be sure to be careful and vet anyone with whom you choose to place your trust.
While the human connection component of sobriety is incredibly important, there is another form of connection I want to talk about as well. To me, a connection refers to any relationship that connects something or someone with something or someone else. A connection is as strong as the link between the two things or people. If the connection is weak, it will most like break under very little strain. If the connection is strong, then it will withstand an enormous amount of strain. On day one of my sobriety journey, I found a connection to something that was as powerful as any human connection I have ever made. I connected with my desire to write. It has been one of the most liberating and insightful things I have ever done. My connection to writing has allowed me to learn a great deal about who I am, what I am doing, and where I am going. While my connection with writing is not a human connection, it has offered me many of the same attributes a positive human connection can offer. In a way, my connection with writing was a connection with myself, which is another form of human connection, isn't it?
With this in mind, I suggest that along with human connections, we also need to find ways to connect with ourselves. How we do that will vary greatly from person to person. I cannot speak to how you will connect with yourself, so I can only offer what I have experienced along my journey. I already spoke to one of the personal connections I made, writing. Another personal connection I made was very unexpected but also welcomed. I made a connection with my desire to help others. As I have written about in my past blogs, before I quit drinking I was always too consumed with my own life dramas to worry about trying to help others. How could I even conceive of trying to help someone else while knowing I could barely help myself? I couldn't, so I rarely tried. Now, it has become a part of who I am. I have garnered strength and confidence through my sobriety that I want to pass on to others. I see the struggles people are having and I want to ease their struggles. I witness the failed attempts of people around me and I want to boost them back up and say hey, you got this. Through trying to help others, I have found that I am helping myself. It is both a selfless and selfish endeavor, both of which have the potential for positive growth.
Helping others can come in various forms many of which are easily accessible to each and every one of us. Simply checking in on someone you know is walking their path may come on a day when that person really needed to hear from someone. A simple comment, message, or phone call can make someone's day. Telling your story may be the story someone needed to hear to finally push them to take their first step. It doesn't matter what we do in our efforts to help, all that matters is that we do something. I have not yet figured out exactly what my place is in the world of helping others, but I do know one thing; I will continue to try and find my place because I know how important it has been in my healing and therefore the healing of others.
In the beginning, this all may seem a bit overwhelming but in my experience, it all came pretty naturally. The most critical piece of advice I can offer to someone thinking about or beginning their journey is to be open and honest with yourself about why you are taking the first steps. I believe the universe and people will see that openness and honesty and they will be naturally drawn to you and your desire for change. Trust that you deserve to live the life you want to live, and trust also that there are people who are willing to help you along the way.
"When people go within and connect with themselves, they realize they are connected to the universe and they are connected with all living things." - Armond Dimele