“Maybe waking up clearheaded, able to remember falling asleep the night before, doesn’t strike you as worth much, but I remember realizing in my third year of recovery that that’s exactly how I’d been living since giving up drinking, and I had a moment of appreciation.”
~ Kevin Griffin, Recovering Joy: a Mindful Life after Addiction
Let’s be perfectly clear, right up front – recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism is hard.
From making that first difficult, embarrassing decision to ask for help, to the sweat and tears that poured out of me during detox, to the solitary and sometimes boring life I lived while I avoided the so-called friends that I used to drink and use with, to the logistical nightmare of going to tons of 12-Step meetings while at the same time going to therapy five times a week, holding a job, and trying to have some semblance of a family life, I fought for my recovery every step of the way.
From that description, you probably think that I white-knuckled my way through a miserable recovery process, and that I now hold onto a bitter sobriety.
You would be wrong.
For all of the hardships and struggles that I have faced during my recovery process, all of them put together can’t touch the joy and gratitude that I feel now when I wake up knowing exactly who and where I am.
Because there is a flip side – from the extraordinarily liberating feeling when I could stop hiding my addiction, to the tears of happiness I shed when I received my 30-day chip, to the new friends that I’ve made along my journey, to the newfound abundance of time that I have now that I am no longer constantly feeding my addiction.
So let’s be clear about one other thing – you can discover fountains of joy during recovery.
Here’s how I did it, and I hope it helps you, too.
A Change of Perspective Can Put You in the Right Frame of Mind
It’s no understatement to say that my frame of mind was dysfunctional during active addiction. For the longest time during early recovery, I stubbornly clung to my drug-conceived notions about the world and my place in it. It took me a while to realize that there were positive alternatives to my negative point of view. Instead of –
- Trying to do things my way, I could be open to a new way of living.
- Acting out of denial and deception, I could try unflinching honesty.
- Being suspicious of everyone else’s motives, I could trust that some people just want to help.
- Looking for a way to escape the consequences of my actions, I could try to make amends.
- Blaming other people for my problems, I could accept responsibility.
- Hiding my drug addiction, I could be open about my disease and my need for help.
What did all of this do for me?
It took away a tremendous mental burden, for starters. When you live a lifestyle that is governed by lying and selfishness, it is EXHAUSTING – mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Best of all, I was able to put all of that energy that I used to waste into more productive, healthy pursuits. I was able to focus on my own recovery and my own happiness.
Happiness during Recovery Is All about Counting Your Blessings
Active addiction took almost everything away from me – my health, my sanity, my relationship, my job, my home, many of my friends, and very nearly, my life.
During early recovery, it was very easy to sit in mourning and feel bad about everything that I had lost. But when I heard an older man in one of my 12-Step meetings describe how happy he was to be sober, everything he mentioned was one of the “little things in life”.
That kind of woke me up, because it made me realize exactly how blessed I am and how much I have regained. Today, I find joy in –
- Waking up in my own bed, knowing exactly where I am
- Going to work every day
- Being financially responsible
- Eating well
- Taking care of my health
- Hanging out with friends and not doing drugs
- Renewing, rebuilding, and repairing old relationships
- Helping other people who are where I once was
You might think that none of these are anything special, because they are just your run-of-the-mill, everyday “life activities” that are part of being a responsible adult.
But when I stopped being a slave to my addiction, I was able to rediscover the freedom to do the right things with my life.
To someone who has never had a substance abuse disorder so bad that they were homeless, it’s hard to describe the unimaginable satisfaction I felt when I signed the lease for the first apartment of my own since I regained my sobriety.
Improving my mental health and rediscovering my happiness during recovery became easier as time went by, because I learned to trust in the process and stay out of my own way.
If you live in Colorado and want to regain your mental health and happiness by recovering from your own addiction, you should get in touch with AspenRidge Recovery today.
As the Denver area’s most-trusted drug and alcohol rehab facility, AspenRidge offers substance abusers and their families an evidence-based and wellness-focused treatment strategy that addresses the disease of addiction on every level – physical, emotional, mental, nutritional, and spiritual.