Twenty Years

Today is a special day for me. I am celebrating twenty years of sobriety. I’m full of emotions. My stomach can’t decide if it’s excited or anxious.

I remember the days before sobriety. To say I was miserable is an understatement.

I remember those early days. I was so confused and in such a fog.

I remember those early years. My life was such a mess. A really awful mess.

If you’re newly sober or thinking about getting sober, I can tell you it’s worth it. I have peace today. My head is calm. I live with serenity. My life is not chaotic. It took time, but I have built a life that is good.

I don’t know how to put into words how good it is to simply say I have peace. Those few words carry so much weight. That’s really all I can say right now.

It Works!

With a sigh of relief, I can say the tools for getting back into a better frame of mind work. Yesterday, I was struggling, as I wrote. It was not a good day at all. I was stressed and not dealing with it well at all. I used the tools that I know work. I meditated early and went for a good speed walk to get my self moving. I went to the cathedral down the street for a break and for my lunch break. I was able to meditate very briefly once, but the rest of the time I just sat. I made an extra appointment to see my therapist, and luckily he had an opening in the late afternoon.

Before that session, I chatted with my best friend about my turmoil. I could easily say that I understood the cause of my discontent was in me. I knew it was. I’ve been doing all this too long to try to blame it on something around me. An AA text The 12 and 12 states it correctly: whenever we are disturbed no matter what the cause, the problem lies in us.

I really was disturbed. My negative self-talk was working overtime. The voice in my head was saying I’d ruined my life and I was worthless. I was feeling really bad.

A very important tool for me is chatting with my best friend. He’s smart about these things. I was able to tell him that I knew I was the source of all the discord inside, and he invited me to look at all the good ways I was using my tools to feel better. He was absolutely right. I was doing a lot of good for myself. I was doing a good job of taking care of myself, but I couldn’t seem to say it.

My therapist has been helping me see the exact same thing, and he is now helping me change some of the things I say to myself. Instead of saying that I’m nuts, I can say I’m feeling a lot of stress. I like this a lot more than saying happy things while looking at myself in the mirror. That never worked for me. I know it works for some people, but I couldn’t get it to stick for me. So I’m going to take the reality of the situation, but instead of using words that demean me, I’m going to rephrase it into truth that is not degrading.

Last night I took an antianxiety medicine that I have for situations just like this, and I got a good night’s sleep. My meditation this morning was really good. I got some good breaths in between the wandering thoughts, and I went for a good speed walk. On the bus this morning, I was able to chat briefly with the man I’m dating, who was my ex and now is not my ex. It felt good. It wasn’t important stuff, but the connection felt good.

There are many things we can use as tools to help us through our difficult times when we feel bad about ourselves and our lives and the world around us. These are some of the things that work for me. I hope you can find little activities that work for you.

Struggling

I’m struggling today. I want to go home and crawl in bed.

Not going home is the first thing I’m doing to help myself feel better.

The second thing is I meditated early this morning.

Then I walked for exercise.

I’ve also visited the cathedral. I wasn’t able to meditate, but I made myself say a positive thing to myself.

Finally, I got an extra session with my therapist late this afternoon after work.

In between now and then, I will eat a healthy lunch.

I’m using the tools to feel better. I’m not taking this feeling down as permanent. I’m actively working to feel better.

Breathing

I didn’t just walk through the stuff. I breathed through it.

Meditation has worked for me once again. This time I combined a releasing visualization that a good friend walked me through on the phone. The result was astonishing. I felt completely better. I was exhausted after the visualization from releasing all that negativity. I also have a much better view of the end of that relationship.

The visualization is not complicated. Here’s a step-by-step guide, if you want to try it.

  1. Sit comfortably, breathe evenly, and relax.
  2. Ask an angel to be near you.
  3. Imagine you are sitting in a shaft of beautiful blue-green light, and breathe it in over and over.
  4. Imagine a cylinder of white light in front of you.
  5. Imagine all the negativity in you about any particular topic. Ask the angel to help you pull that negativity out. Once it’s out, wad it up into a ball.
  6. Place that ball in the cylinder of light, and ask that it be transformed into something positive. I like asking it to be transformed into the laughter of children or nourishing rain on areas of drought.
  7. Finally, breathe more of the beautiful light you’re sitting in.

That’s it. You did it. The beauty is it can be repeated as often as you want about any topic you want. Don’t be discouraged if the negativity returns. That’s not failure. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years of repeated release for something to leave altogether.

This isn’t a race. My healing took decades. It’s worth it. I feel so good.

Opening Energy

Yesterday, I woke up and meditated as usual, and then I did something that’s different. I put on my swimsuit, and I went to the water. I don’t do this often, because of anxiety, but yesterday, I didn’t give myself time to think about it. I just did it.

I went in for just a short time and got completely under the water at one point. I floated for a while.

I got out and stood for some time letting the water drip off me with the sun shining on my back through some wispy clouds. I just watched the water and the people around me.

With my glasses on this time, I went back in the water and stood. I just let the feeling of the water surround me. I didn’t have any agenda. I allowed it to flow. I allowed myself to simply be there. A young man and his dog were swimming back and forth together. The dog looked like he was really enjoying himself. It was rapturous to watch. They were full of sheer joy.

I got back out, and though I’d only been there about an hour, I decided to go home. I rinsed off in the shower, and the young man and his dog were there. I told him how much joy it had given me to watch them play. He grinned widely.

As I walked back to my car, I felt amazing. I’d only been in the water a short time, but I felt exuberant. I felt elated. I felt completely open. I used that feeling throughout yesterday, and I’ve recalled it today, too.

I’ve got a lot of stress going on at work, and this feeling of openness is really helping. I can bring it up to the surface by closing my eyes and calling it to return. It’s pure joy. I’m so grateful for it.

I will be returning to the water again soon.

Walking Through It

In my last post, I wrote about my recent break up. I’m still experiencing varied moods due to the end of that romantic relationship. I have good days and bad ones.

I’m happy to say I’m using the tools I have, and they help a great deal.

My most important tool is meditation. I am able to release a lot of difficult emotions very quickly and thoroughly by doing some simple meditative techniques I’ve learned over the years. I wrote about one technique in that last post.

I’ve used medication, too. I have some medicine I can take for anxiety. I have used them occasionally. I used them daily just after the break up.

I’ve spoken to my therapist often, and that helps give me clarity.

I’ve chatted with my best friend multiple times each day. He’s a rock in this situation, and I’m grateful for his love and support.

I’ve exercised a lot, too. I’ve walked and walked. I enjoy speed walking, so I do it daily these days.

I’ve been careful with what I eat. I allow myself some junk every once in a while, but I’m careful. I eat an almost completely vegetarian diet. It feels like the right thing for me to do.

I’ve been getting good sleep most nights, which is an enormous help. Sleep resets me, so I can start fresh every morning.

Yesterday was a rough day, but I used the tools, and I survived. Today feels better except for the fact I didn’t get enough sleep for some unknown reason. I’ll be fine.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Using a Tool

Every day, I feel discomfort because of events. Something will come along in my day that is stressful, and it causes me to have negative emotions. I have a tool I use in these situations that helps me release the stress and anxiety.

I sit and close my eyes and relax. Next, I try to figure out where in my body the stress or anxiety is being stored. Sometimes it’s in my stomach, sometimes my chest, and sometimes my head. I ask myself what color it is and what shape it is. I try to get a good image of the thing.

After I’ve got a good image of it, I very gently reach inside and slowly remove it. I am gentle about this part of the process. Sometimes it comes out easily, and sometimes it’s got hooks attached to my insides. I’m always gentle, and it always comes out eventually.

Then I give the thing to the Universe, and I always say, “Please recycle this into the laughter of children.” It’s just a little ritual. It’s energy that I’m releasing, and energy never disappears, so I like to think it could be recycled into something joyful.

If that seems like it might work for you, give it a try.