Change is hard, but growth is uncomfortable. I’ve always known this.
Wanna make money? Go use all of your time to study all the things.
Wanna lose weight? Spend one hour of your day sweating and hurting real bad and never eat Americone Dream ice cream ever again.
Wanna be famous? Start a blog.
Okay don’t worry. My growth goals are bigger than money, vanity and fame. And I am fully aware that those are extreme answers. Just hang with me.
All I’m saying is, this is one of those life mantras that’s easy to know but hard to apply, and even harder to accept. Well, that had to change for me. In January I chose to get sober. I was facing, what seemed like, an impossible battle. My only chance of coming out on top? CHANGE.
Or was it growth?
Earlier this year, I heard someone say, “‘The times in which I’ve grown the most have been times I’ve been uncomfortable.”
Sobriety is uncomfortable. It’s a change. Change is hard. Difficult things yield discomfort. But, here’s my problem, nobody says anything about ANTICIPATING that discomfort. Can I get an amen? And THAT, that is when I want to hop, skip and jump over that change and forfeit any growth. I had to start with some subtle changes. Ya know, some not-so-scary-ones that I, as an irresponsible and very sick human, could handle.
Once I proved to myself that I could come through, I gained some confidence. I was proud of myself.
WHOA SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Confidence? Proud of myself? I grew!
It happens when you want it. But, I’ve gotta give you some advice. There’s no hopping, skipping or jumping allowed. Think of it as a long, slow jog. No worries, though. I’m in it with you. One day at a time. It will be worth it, I promise.
Good-bye, comfort zones!
1. I WENT TO CHURCH
In my last year of drinking, I thought about God often. When I was younger, my family and I occasionally attended a church here in Arkansas. I prayed, but I prayed FOR things. I made mistakes, but I didn’t talk to God about them. I certainly didn’t seek forgiveness. I saw God as a punisher or a giver of gifts. So, naturally, in those weak, isolated moments of escape, all I could think about was how disappointed God was.
The only thing that disappointed Him was that I’d lost touch in my lowest season.
I stopped trying, so I made things simple and tried again. It’s workin’ so far.
Church doesn’t have to be your thing, though. Religion doesn’t have to be your thing either. It’s just about admitting that, left to your own devices, your way of life isn’t working. It’s about accepting that you need help. He is bigger than our problems, and He never intended for us to do life alone. You do you, but there is power in prayer. There is power in fellowship. There is power in surrender.
2. I FOUND HELP
In the hospital, it was established that a 12-step program would be a non-negotiable part of my recovery plan. I was connected to two strong, smart women who led me to a place where people would listen. They led me to a “herd” of strong people who understood. I found so much relief in that place. There’s just something so comforting about spilling your guts out to a bunch of strangers nodding in agreement.
The steps seemed overwhelming at first, but I had to stay in that place of surrender and take them on. Honestly, I’m a firm believer that these steps can help anyone. You don’t have a be an addict to need a little direction and humility. I feel like the steps re-introduced me to myself. I learned about my desires, pet-peeves and coping patterns.
AHEM. THESE ARE ALL IMPORTANT THINGS AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW THEM LIFE CAN BE HARD.
3. I FOUND SOMEONE TO HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE
Honestly, she found me. That’s another story, though.
We all need some accountability in our lives. And I needed it BAD. Now, I had plenty of people trying play this role in my life before I got sober. I was just too prideful to let that happen.
My pride got tired, though. Couple that with another sober person who gets it, and it works.
WARNING: Get ready to be told what to do. You’re not gonna like it. I didn’t. I still don’t.
But let me tell you, real simply, why we can’t skip this part of our journey.
Because OUR way of life isn’t working and, sometimes, God is hard to hear. So, we need someone to tell us what to do. If you want to get sober, you’ve got to find the root. If you want to find the root, you’ve gotta break through the crap.
4. I WAS ASSIGNED A DAILY TASK. THEN I DID IT.
A daily phone call. That’s it. It was simple. It was so simple that I knew dodging it would really be simple. That’s what I planned to do. I’m NOT a phone person, but I called her. Then I called her again. And again.
I followed directions. That’s all.
5.I REDISCOVERED MY LOVE FOR READING.
I found the Personal Growth section at Barnes and Noble and discovered some crazy-talented authors with beautiful stories to tell.
A few to mention:
“Seamless” – Angie Smith
“Beautiful Boy“ – David Sheff.
“Tweak” – Nic Sheff.
“Brain on Fire” – Susannah Cahalan
“Daring Greatly” – Brene Brown
“Girl, Wash Your Face” – Rachel Hollis
6. I MADE MY BED
My dad shared this speech with me. You might have seen it. Navy Seal Admiral McRaven shares this idea that making your bed every morning will help you “change the world.”
Sounds extreme, I know.
But, it’s really not. Now, there are many mornings of unmade beds in my world, and I haven’t changed the world yet. BUT, it’s a simple yet brilliant concept. For me, this was just a small responsibility that I could commit to, and it usually served as a catalyst for a more productive day.
PS: Another free tip: Try wearing your tennis shoes around the house on your slow, off-days. You’ll accomplish more, I promise!
7. I FOUND A PLACE TO SERVE
My church home helped me a lot with this.
Not a church-goer? No prob. Check out public schools. Find a soup kitchen. Text a friend. Do someone’s dishes. Fold laundry that’s NOT your’s. Carpool. Take a co-worker coffee.
GET OUT OF YOURSELF.
There’s power in it. It’s healing. I have a friend who says that she sends a “Hey, how are you” text every time she’s having one of those days. I should totally do it more often, because I tried it and it works.
8. I STARTED TEXTING PEOPLE BACK
Maybe you have no issue in this area. If that’s the case, SCROLL ON DOWN.
When I was in the hospital in January, my parents and sister were slammed with phone calls because so many of my people were concerned. I woke up one day to a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my momma’s best friends. One of my aunt’s came to keep my mom sane.
When I got out of the hospital, my parents and I had home cooked meals for weeks. My best friends put together a HUGE box of the best goodies a sick girl could want. My people were begging to visit.
As I said earlier, God never intended for us to do life alone. This means He wants us to celebrate with our people and He wants us to mourn with our people. That’s more than a text message, I get that. But those few weeks taught me how important it is for me to stay connected to my army because, for me, isolation is deadly. It’s more dangerous than another drink.
So, you can bet I’ll be liking, loving and haha-ing every baby name, FRIENDS quote and Timehop post that comes my way, people. Yea, I’ll be in touch.
BONUS: Listen to this. This is an interesting study on the correlation between isolation and addiction.
9. I PRAYED.
Please in the morning.
Thank you at night.
A knock on a nightstand.
Those are all real-life examples of how people who “didn’t know how to pray” started praying. I’m gonna skip the advice here because THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG TO IT.
10. I MADE LISTS.
Really, though. Earlier this year, I read this devotional for single women. It seriously helped me come to terms with my singleness. (This was a huge trigger for me when I was drinking.) It came with a journal full of random prompts like:
“Prayers for your future spouse”
“Songs that make you happy”
“Things you are grateful for”
I started creating my own prompts too. But, guys I’m a stressed out human being, so mine went more like:
“THINGS TO DO YESTERDAY”
“REASONS YOU’RE SO MAD RIGHT NOW”
“WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GET ANOTHER DOG”
Putting pen to paper is therapeutic for me. The happy lists help me put a realistic spin on my dreams. The not-so-happy lists take power away from those thoughts that keep me up at night.
okay, now what?
Make yourself vulnerable and stay teachable.
I encourage you to get uncomfortable.
Don’t think outside the box, STEP outside the box.