I’m sober…Now what?
That’s a burning question for anyone who has spent more than 30 days substance free. Sure, I’ve heard it said on more than a few occasions that sobriety is the most important thing, and that may be true…but it’s not the ONLY thing.
Sobriety is necessary. Without it, neither you or I will become the person God created us to be. We will never know or experience our highest potential.
And there’s even more than that. For me, now that I’m sober and have intentionally joined the ranks of those who are not anonymous about their addiction and recovery journey, I owe it to everyone around me to remain sober…and that’s a really good feeling. It is an honor to make the decision to live unselfishly and deny myself the right to do whatever my weak flesh might feel like from moment-to-moment.
So, back to the original question…I’m sober, now what?
Life After Sobriety
I want to talk about your purpose.
How do you walk in it, and more importantly —how do you find it?
I want to give you three truths today that will not only encourage you and help you move on to find your purpose, but these three things will also help you stay sober.
Because it’s hard to stay sober just for the sake of staying sober.
You were created with a purpose.
There is something that only you can fulfill….
When you’re moving toward your purpose and taking each next step toward fulfilling your calling in this life, something happens in your brain.
Dopamine is released. The same reward system that was triggered when we got into addiction is now activated for the right reasons.
Finding your purpose will drive you. It will give you passion, clarity, and energy. It will give you a reason to get up in the morning.
So how do you get there?
How do you find Your Life Beyond Addiction?
Get a Mentor
People affect us, so be careful when choosing a sponsor or a mentor. Jim Rohn says, “You will become the average of the five people you are closest to.” In 12 step groups they say, “Stick with the winners.” That could sound mean, almost cliquish…right? But it’s not. It’s part of investing in yourself. When you are around people who you want to be like, people who are in places in life that you want to be, you will glean from their lives. So don’t just pick any sponsor or mentor. Pick someone who has a life that you actually want to have for yourself. Choose someone who has true recovery. My friend Chelsea says, “It’s not about the years in your recovery…it’s about the recovery in your years.” Some people who have 20 years clean and sober are always talking about how miserable they are. Stay away from them. Find someone who is walking in integrity, who loves life…someone who has positive relationships going on, someone who knows how to navigate through tough spots. If there’s no one in your life like that right now, make it your mission to find them.
It’s vital to find that sweet spot that makes you feel alive. Giving back does that to you. If we have the Solution but then we hide it from those who need it most because we are afraid or ashamed, or because we just don’t feel like it’s necessary to continue working with other addicts once we have achieved sobriety, we put ourselves in a dangerous place. If you’re sober. If you’ve found the Solution, you have something in you that the world needs. It’s your responsibility to help others. The way you do that looks different for everyone, but for me it meant advocating with people still caught in the cycle of addiction. Most recently, after moving back to Fort Myers, Florida, I’ve been working with a group of individuals (and Samaritan Wellness Center) to bring Narcan Training, opiate addiction education and a clean needle exchange to Lee County. These efforts, to me, are like working in the mission field. I get a chance to show the unconditional, extravagant love of Jesus Christ, while helping people right where they are…even if that means providing a clean needle and cotton swabs to protect a person in active addiction from contracting Hep-C or HIV.
Where is your place of “giving back?”
You have something beautiful to share. Even your failures, your relapses, your struggles….they are all a part of your story and no one can connect better with a person struggling, than someone who has been there. You are a walking testimony. We all know what addiction looks like. The world sees it. We’re in the papers and the media all the time. Overdose deaths and crime stories. It’s time the world gets to see what recovery looks like. That’s you. That’s me. Giving back is one of your tools. It’s part of your purpose. It protects you from relapse.
Keep Investing in Yourself
You should be constantly challenging yourself to learn and grow. Life is about expanding, so don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable where you are. Don’t stagnate. I don’t care if you’ve got a rap sheet a mile long and a warrant out for your arrest right now. It doesn’t matter if you dropped out of high school. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are.
It’s never too late to cash in on your dreams. You can start right where you are. Get your GED. Spend your time reading, learning, and stretching yourself. A year from now you can have so much progress if you’ll set your mind on growth. I was 48 when I got clean. I had been to jail more than once and at one point, I had the temptation to sink into viewing myself as a failure. I had so much work ahead to just be able to drive a car. I’m a high school dropout….I made a lot of bad choices…but I still kept that glimmer of hope that my life has meaning and I have purpose. I said to myself, “You’re better than this…” Today I have my license, I have built my writing business back up AND I’m about to publish my first children’s book. It all seemed overwhelming at first. I was the oldest person in treatment for a while. and I remember thinking, “What an idiot you are. Look at you, a middle aged train wreck.” But you can’t think that way. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trust God and clean house one day at a time.
And the gifts of sobriety will chase you down. I can promise you that.
Will it be easy? No. It won’t be. You’ll hit walls. You’ll get frustrated…and sometimes everything in you will tell you to stop. Everything will tell you that you can’t reach your goals…But it is during those times when you have to have faith. You have to dig your heels in and resolve within yourself that you will become the very best version of yourself. You’ll use the tools you’ve been given in treatment, and from your sponsor…and the winners you’re surrounding yourself with.
…and like the Big Book says about the steps, you’ll start feeling about every goal you set, “You’ll be amazed before you are halfway through….”
I believe you matter. You have a purpose. You have greatness within you, —and sobriety is just the fist step.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, there is help. 239-440-6856