RADICAL ACCEPTANCE – AMANDA’S PATH TO SOBRIETY
. . . one big event was not enough but the years of cumulative moments of despair made it possible for me to lean into the fear and take the first step.
I'm happy to share Amanda's story, another in our blog series, each focusing on one person's journey. Sobriety comes in many shapes and sizes and every experience is respected.
It means a lot to share these stories since our own family member has struggled with addiction. In fact, this person gave the blog its name with the quote below explaining what sobriety means to her. These experiences motivate us to donate natural body care to those in recovery from addiction. -Cindy, Founder of H. Honeycup.
My name is Amanda. I currently live in the Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada.
Throughout my 21 years of addiction, there were many life events that had me thinking that my substance use was a problem and that I needed help.
The thought of sobriety seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t know where to begin and couldn’t imagine it was even possible.
I knew I needed help; however, as quickly as the thought of wanting to quit alcohol came to mind the hangover would dissipate and time passed would lessen the feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt.
Justification, denial, and permission giving thinking would take over again and sobriety would yet again seem like a far-off dream.
For myself, one big event was not enough but the years of cumulative moments of despair made it possible for me to lean into the fear and take the first step. I didn’t gracefully walk into a rehab facility, as a willing participant, but rather was pushed through the doors by health care professionals.
A rock bottom incident didn’t change my course of addiction; but rather, my decision to surrender in rehab was my first step. It was a gradual realization that I wanted to live a sober life.
. . . a turning point of moving from dreaming of sobriety to taking action was when I decided to follow the lead of those who had done it before me and lean into the fear.
Journaling and being creative is one the most impactful activities that has helped me in my recovery process. I have many styles of journaling I like to practice.
To instill the habit, I kept it simple where my only commitment was to open a journal, daily, and put at least one thing on a page. Sometimes I journal using mind-mapping, drawing pictures, making lists, or writing every thought that comes to mind down with no regard to spelling, punctuation, or flow. The latter is my favorite kind.
As my recovery progressed, so did my journaling, and now I am able to use it to identify distorted thinking or thought processes.
I value my ability to recognize emotions in my body; to feel the physical sensations of them.
I say to myself “it’s okay, this is familiar, I know what this is and it will pass.”
In doing this I’m able to sit and experience emotions without trying to numb them.
This has improved my relationship with my children as they are able to be vulnerable and authentic to themselves. I am now able to guide my children in moving through the emotions of the day, feeling safe and secure, as I am a witness to these experiences without trying to numb their expressions.
I now get the privilege of seeing my children use “negative experiences or emotions” as opportunities for growth.
I no longer need to fill each moment with distracting or numbing activities and have more confidence to step outside of routine and try something new.
In sobriety, my days have slowed down. I listen to my body more and have learned to set boundaries regarding my limits.
I prioritize time to learn, be creative, self-reflection, fun, fellowship, and taking care of my body daily. My daily to-do lists are shorter and achievable and more about the journey of the day rather than just making it to the end alive.
A PRIVATE JOURNEY
I have learned that my sobriety can make others uncomfortable. It causes others to think about themselves and that can be a challenge.
For the most part my sobriety has been a private journey. My family is not aware and only a handful of friends are privy to the journey. Thus far, friends have the intention to be supportive; however, the best of intentions usually fall flat.
I’m often provided reasons from friends of why they do not believe I am an alcoholic. I’ve learned this is why fellowship can be so important in recovery and I use this as my support.
If you’ve ever heard of using the right tool for the right job; this is an example of this.
For me, peers, or people who have struggled with addiction, are the right supports for addiction as they not only desire to support you, but also know how.
WHEN FRIENDS RELAPSE
For some, relapse is a part of the journey, and this can sometimes be people you are close to. I have very clear boundaries for myself when it comes to supporting others through relapse.
The thing with addiction is that your personal recovery must come above all else. Literally, sobriety must be ahead of everything in your life.
Whatever you put before sobriety you risk losing.
With that in mind, I will always offer my hand to someone in need but I continue to keep it solution focused and prioritize my sobriety.
I reflect frequently to ensure I am not dissolving my boundaries to save others and jeopardizing my own sobriety.
I am not ready to be a sponsor but I am always able to get you to a meeting to find someone who is.
MANY PILLARS TO SUCCESS
I used substances for many reasons; therefore, I need many avenues of support.
AA meetings are one of my pillars to success. I find they can be grounding and a great way to help you step outside of yourself.
I also enjoy AA meetings where a speaker shares his or her story. Stepping outside of my own world and listening to others shrinks my problems into much more manageable pieces.
I find it helpful to be in a place where I feel understood without speaking.
No one person has influenced my sober living journey, but I do enjoy learning about sober celebrities as I feel they have the power of influence that could help decrease stigma around substance abuse disorders.
I’ve found influence from all around me by trying to find what I can relate to rather than why my struggles are unique.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SOBRIETY
That you have to want it to get sober. That if you really wanted it, you could do it. Getting sober is not a matter of just how bad you want it. Sobriety is a process; a journey.
Addiction has nothing to do with character or willpower. Living with addiction is not a happy life and no one wants a life of misery. If willpower or wanting something badly enough was the answer to creating change in life, wouldn’t we all be living the life we desired with little to no effort?
When someone is still suffering from addiction it is not because they aren’t ready or don’t want sobriety enough.
THE CHALLENGE OF AMBIVALENCE
Ambivalence is a common feeling in sobriety. Even with all the positive changes in life and rewards of sobriety, ambivalence can still pop up. Just as with any goal in life there comes a time when it becomes hard and when you may wonder if you can or should carry on.
I keep myself prepared for when ambivalence presents. I use distraction, meditation, planning sober fun and socialization, and journaling all the pros and cons of submitting to the cravings or urges as tools to wait out the ambivalence.
What has changed in your life because of getting sober? Short answer, everything!
My name is Amanda and my Instagram diary, @that.smart.sober.girl, shares snippets of my recovery process. My intention behind sharing these parts of my story on my Instagram diary, is to help me move towards living a more whole-hearted life in sobriety. To me this means practicing vulnerability and living sobriety loudly. I currently live in the Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada.
Read the last in our series, Taylor’s story.
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