Dear Hip Sobriety,
I stumbled across your blog this morning, all the way from Australia. I have a serious drinking problem that is fed from loneliness and boredom. I want to change my life, but just don't know where to start or where to find the support I know I am going to need. I don't know that I would be a good fit for your coaching "sober spirit guide" as I have recently became unemployed and am struggling to get another job, which apart from the fact, this is starting to freak me right out, I am trying to keep my mind in a positive state. I have no money. I am not asking you to take pity on me, and be my guide for nothing, as I appreciate the meaning of business and that everyone needs to make money. But I am asking you if you can give me any references and tips to first prepare myself for the big change.
Love, Aussie Needs Help.
My Dear Sweet Aussie,
There are so many things I want to say to you. But the first thing I'll start out with is this: pity is something reserved for those who are unable to help themselves. Pity is not something that I have towards a woman who has not only found her way to this website and other resources, not only admitted that she has a drinking problem, not only asked for help, but has also taken the steps to find the help. What I am finding myself feeling as I write this to you is something far from pity. What I feel is admiration and trust. Admiration for the strength it took you to get HERE. And trust that you will succeed in what you are trying to achieve. Because, Aussie, you are trying.
I say these things first because you have asked me if I can give you tips and references to prepare yourself for the big change. What you may not see that I so clearly see is that you have already done the hardest preparation that you can do, and that is all the things that you have done leading up to this very moment here.
Your big change has already happened, my love.
The next thing I want to say, even though you didn't really ask me about it, is that of course you lost your job. I mean, why would the Universe make this easy for you? There is a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that says "Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make that it happen." I agree with Ralph on this. I really do. But I also believe that sometimes this so called "conspiring" looks more like a cruel fucked up joke. There are SO many times on my path where my prayer has gone like this:
"Okay, God? Did my cat really have to die? Wasn't being homeless, unemployed, uninsured, and the bacterial vaginitis enough? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"
And then in retrospect it makes sense that it happened exactly as it did. And I wouldn't change a thing. Even the BV. So while it might be terrifying to not only be going through your big change but further, doing it without the security of a paycheck, please understand that the Universe does not fuck around.
So yes, freak right out. For sure. Scream and say fuck a lot. But then pull it in, take a breath, and hold on to the very real truth that you are held, and that there is a bigger plan in place than you can possibly dream or imagine because it is bigger than you, and bigger than what you can see.
Finally, to answer the real question at hand…where to start. I've pulled together a list of 10 concepts, tools, and resources that I think will help you, and also linked to a few past articles on this. But before you read them, let me sum it up by saying this:
You just start. ANYWHERE. And then you don't give up.
How To Prepare For SOBRIETY: MY TOP 10 Tips To Break Alcohol Dependency.
1. Surrender it. As you walk this path, no one thing will help you more than this: you have got to surrender to it. To the process. To the fact that there is an intelligence working in your favor far superior to what you can begin to imagine. To the idea that you are always held, surrounded, and supported. If you continue to step out of your own way, believe that you are exactly where you are meant to be (even when it feels like you are exactly the opposite), hand over the things you cannot handle to the Thing outside of you that can (God, the Universe, the Creator, Love - whatever the fuck you want to call it), and TRUST - you will be okay (because you are always okay - even right now, right this second). Let your prayer be "show me the way" over and over and over again. Until all you can think are those words.
2. Thank and forgive. The first thing I tell my clients is to thank their drinking, because on some level, it's most likely saved them from other ills. Before I knew any better, alcohol and pot saved me and helped me manage my life. Until it didn't anymore. And holding myself in some sort of guilt over being weak or flawed or "not like other people" or beating the shit out of myself for using something that alleviated the pain and relief until I found the right way didn't get me anywhere. It in fact just caused more guilt and pain and kept me stuck in a vicious cycle. So start by forgiving it, forgiving yourself, and honoring that you have done your best with what you've had. You undo past mistakes not by holding yourself in guilt over them or going back, but by stepping forward. And kindly so. If you need even more help forgiving it, here is a great Gabby Bernstein video on how to move past mistakes and guilt in addiction.
3. Fucking Meditate. Every day. Without fail. For at least 10 minutes. In the early parts of recovery, try for 30 a day. Hell, try 60 a day. Make sure and incorporate some breath work and some chanting (Kundalini is a great way to go). Here is an article on my favorite resources and here is an article on how to start. You can also search this website for Kundalini meditations and practices. A lot of people like to say they don't have time to meditate. To this I say, "but you found the time to drink, right?" and drinking? It takes up a SHIT TON of our time. If you have time to drink, you have time to meditate.
4. Educate yourself. In order to live a different way, you have to learn a different way. Cognitive understanding of what is happening to you physiologically and neuro-physiologically, psychologically, spiritually, existentially, and so on, is one of the best ways to get a grip on it. I recommend reading John Dupuy's Integral Recovery, Allen Carr's The EasyWay To Control Alcohol, and watching Dr. Kevin McCaully's Pleasure Unwoven to start.
5. Get Support. Begin building a support team. Try an AA meeting or some other 12-step meeting if it feels right (I suggest everyone try it at least once before making up their mind about it). Go to a yoga studio or meditation group and get to know those around you. Find a counselor. Find a doctor. Find a massage therapist, a yoga instructor, like-minded friends on the same path, an acupuncturist. Use online resources like Women For Sobriety or Hello Sunday Morning. Find support in any way you possibly can. And don't be afraid to ask for it from those you trust.
6. Be Care-Full. Engage in EXTREME SELF CARE. Take a lot of baths. Drink a lot of water and eat healthy food. Do a lot of yoga and get plenty of exercise. Get lots of sleep. Splurge on the massage. Listen to soothing music. Get outside. Laugh. Sleep! Take care of yourself like you would a small child (this includes forgiving yourself!!!).
7. Build a Toolkit. Alcohol is a coping mechanism. A terribly unhealthy one, but a coping mechanism none-the-less. And so it goes that you will need to build an arsenal of healthy coping mechanisms. Create a list of 10 things you can access when you are wound up or in crisis. A specific meditation or breathing exercise, smelling an essential oil, a specific tea or herb, a specific friend, a prayer or quote or mantra, journaling, a quick yoga move or exercise. My personal toolkit includes doing 10 Long Deep Breaths, this meditation, Yogi Kava-Kava tea, Tulsi tea, rubbing lavender oil on my palms and deeply inhaling, picking up my copy of A Course In Miracles and flipping to any page, taking a bath with epsom salts, and doing a headstand. Literally write the 10 things down on a list and refer to that list when you are worked up and want a drink, and do the healthy thing instead. (Imagine opening up a toolbox and not finding alcohol, but only these 10 things).
8. Become Miracle Minded. Doing May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein is a great way to begin to shift your perception and open yourself up to a different way of being in the world. It is also a great way to clear your fear. Make sure and get the guided meditations that go along with it (they are staples in my regular meditation practice.)
9. Get Joyful. One of the first things I did - long before I stopped drinking for good - was incorporate joy in my life. This meant I got up in the morning and danced naked in my apartment and sang at the top of my lungs - even when I felt like I wanted to die. This meant I bought a trampoline and rainbow light for my work space. This meant I did things that brought the spark of life into my existence in any way possible. Do NOT underestimate the power of joy. A great book for this is Awakening Joy by James Baraz.
10. Walk Through Fire. At the end of the day, your success depends NOT on how perfect you execute recovery from addiction. It depends on the lengths you will go to for it. I love the line from the SIA song Elastic Heart, "I walk through fire to save my life." Because that was exactly what recovery was for me. It wasn't about quitting alcohol and drugs. It was about walking through fire to save my life. To save myself. There was nothing I wouldn't try, nothing out of scope, no task too small or too great. At the end of the day it was that my life was worth saving, and that I would do any fucking thing to save it, that pulled me out.
Okay Aussie, this is what I have for you. My no-pity advice, the best I have, just for you. Of course, I could give you more, I could give you less, and it would still come down to the same matter. You just start. Anywhere. And then you don't give up.
All my Love, Hol.
CBS #14DAYS Challenge. 10 Tips To Support Your Alcohol Cleanse. This is an article geared towards short-term alcohol cleanses but it has great tips.
How and Why I Quit Coffee. Disclaimer, I'm back on coffee. But this is the same protocol I used to quit pot and cigarettes (which I've stayed off).