It seems lately, or maybe I am just becoming more aware of it, people are struggling more now than when all this first started. I keep hearing stories of friends, old and new, who are falling in their sobriety. While it hurts my heart to witness this, I am thankful I can at least be here for anyone who needs a hand, a kind word, or just a positive presence to be near. I have told a lot of people I know well and even more I do not know well that I am here if they need someone, and I truly mean it. This is all very new to me and I am constantly amazed at how my mindset has shifted from a place of selfishness when I was using to a place of what feels like a level of selflessness now that I am sober. Part of that feeling is what inspired my writing this blog this morning and thinking about the joy of sobriety number ten.
Being of Service
I was raised catholic and I have heard the idea and words, being of service, many times throughout my life. While I had heard them, I never really put much thought into what the phrase meant and why people talked about it. As an adult, I heard the phrase more in regard to sobriety but since I was never in a place where sobriety was an option I was never emotionally open to understanding what it meant. When you are living day to day and relying on your addictions to deal with life, you do not have the capacity to think much outside the tip of your own nose, let alone to think about helping others.
Since I have become sober, one of the things I found that helped me the most was writing. As a lot of you know, I began writing a blog every day about my experience as a sober person. The unexpected by-product of writing my sober blog was learning that my experiences were helping others as well as myself. Once that realization set it, I unconsciously began seeking out and engaging in new ways to either help, support, or simply be there for people who need help in their sobriety and recovery. I am now doing a podcast, online sobriety meetings, guest writing on other sober blogs, doing videocast interviews with like-minded people, and literally giving people my phone number to contact me whenever they need help. I do not intend this to sound like tooting my own horn, it's more of a testament to how sobriety has encouraged me to live outside myself and to be of service to others.
The most interesting part of feeling the need to be of service is the way in which it feels almost involuntary. I spent some time in my past working at a non-profit organization that truly had a wonderful mission. Even though I believed in the mission, it always felt like work to show up every day and do the work necessary to further the mission of that organization. We can have good intentions and try to do well in the world but the difference truly lies in that word, "try." When we are "trying" to do things, we can only garner enough motivation to do so much. Try feeling happy when you are having a really bad day, it is not very easy. The same goes with being of service to others, it shouldn't feel like work.
Helping Others Should be Easy
This should be obvious, but if you were like me when I was using, helping others was an enormous task and one I often felt I should be rewarded for when and if I ever took the time to offer help. This is one of the biggest and certainly the most surprising benefits of sobriety that has come up for me over the past four-plus months. Everything I am doing in the sober community today feels as easy and normal as having a cup of coffee or getting dressed in the morning. It is just something I do and will continue to do because I do not know of any other way to behave, right now. This is what I am meant to do and I feel blessed to have the motivation and drive to be there for others.
I encourage anyone who is walking their sober path through recovery to find ways to reach out to others and offer your support whenever and wherever you can. Service does not have to be a time-consuming gesture like writing a blog, doing videos or podcasts, or hosting meetings. Being of service can be as simple as commenting on someone's post in a sober community letting them know that you are there and that you support them. You will be surprised at the level of gratitude people feel and show for simple gestures of kindness. I had a person reach out to me recently when I was having a bad day and tell me how they felt God was working through me because I reached out to them at a time when they really needed to hear from someone. In one short message, two people received support and kindness at a time when they both needed it most. Service is easy, once you truly feel and understand the way it works.
Another by-product of being of service that I have learned is how the people with whom we come into contact through service often become friends and with those friends you begin the process of building a community. The community you build together is a community of like-minded, supportive, and service-oriented people who understand the importance of being there for one another. One of the biggest negatives I hear people talk about when thinking about sobriety is the belief that sobriety is lonely, boring, and depressing. My experience and the experience of many people I am coming into contact with, in the sober community, is that sobriety is the complete opposite. It is the beginning of a life-long connection to some of the strongest and most inspiring people you have ever met.
Sobriety is not boring, it is enlightening.