24 June 2016
Developing your support network
The first few weeks I have to say were about getting through each day clean and sober by whatever means possible. In times gone by when I had tried to stop I didn't change any of my other unhelpful behaviours that sat alongside the addiction. So for example I'd still lay in bed all day isolating myself and hiding away. I didn't reach out to anyone as I was convinced that I didn't deserve to be helped, supported or loved by anyone, but trying to do it on my own didn't work. We all need support in fighting the addiction demon. So this time I knew I had to be more active and put more effort into my recovery. I guess one of the reasons why I had been actively addicted for so long is because I was waiting for there to be an easy solution and eventually I had to get my head round the fact that there was no easy, quick fix. That I would have to work at getting well. A major challenge for me has been social anxiety and trusting anyone enough to let them in. My main source of support has come from all the people I have met at the Living Room Cardiff (LR), and I have spent every weekday at the LR since I stopped using skunk cannabis. I have made some great friends here, people who know the ups and downs of addiction and recovery. People who do not judge because they have gone through similar experiences. People who see the good in you at a time when the addiction has robbed you of all your self-esteem and self-love. People who will listen and understand. At first I found accepting this love and support very difficult because I struggle with such a low opinion of myself, and like many of us I have issues around trusting other human beings. I hold some very unhelpful beliefs about myself and others too which create barriers to letting people in. Such as “I am unlovable”, “I am not good enough”, “I am not worthy or deserving of love and support”, and “people will hurt and abandon me” etc. But my friends at the Living Room have been so patient with me during the ups and downs of the first month. They have provided me with a perspective that has challenged my unhelpful beliefs, seeing good things in me which I could not see in myself. They have challenged me and supported me, and accepted me however I’ve been. So I believe through my experience that developing a good social support network in recovery is so very important. Don't try to cope on your own - reach out.
Accepting step one of the 12 steps of AA / NA
Admit and accept that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable.
Over the last month I have struggled with this step. Prior to stopping, whilst still in the active addiction phase, I thought I had this idea nailed, but it turned out I may have grasped it intellectually (I knew it) but I hadn't truly got it (I hadn't truly accepted it). Over the last month I have had a few slips, usually at weekends when I am not at the LR and I have to deal with spending more time alone with myself, including all my thoughts, feelings, cravings etc. During the week I felt safer and more confident that I would not use, but there was something about the weekend that has had me really craving to get high on cannabis. Each time I have experienced one of these slips I have managed to use for an evening or a day and then flush the rest of the cannabis down the toilet, preventing a full blown relapse. But each time this happened I knew I was playing with fire – a dangerous game, but still I could not totally let go of wanting to use. I kept giving myself permission to use by telling myself lies like; a small bag won't hurt, I can manage just a little bit, I can't cope without getting high, getting high will make me feel better. Each time I slipped I tried to remain as aware as I could, and thus I was able to learn a lot from each slip. I guess that I ultimately learned that I couldn't control my use. I couldn't have one or two, no I'd be smoking constantly getting so stoned that I made myself feel physically and mentally unwell. I might get a very brief moment of relief from the way I was feeling, but the negative payback was way too great. I finally came to Admit and accept that I, of myself, am powerless to overcome my addiction and that my life had become totally unmanageable.
Book of the week – The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Quotes of the week -
Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers. They challenge you, break you open, up-lift and expand you. They don't let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe.
- It's not about perfect. It’s about effort and when you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs.
NO ONE is ever too broken, too scarred, or too far-gone to create change. Never stop fighting. Never lose faith.