Embrace the Nothingness 

Far from a nihilistic cry, my suggestion to embrace nothingness–specifically of being and of activity level–is borne out of frustration from trying too hard for too long, both before and in recovery. I needed to be someone and to prove some things. Sitting with my own insignificance is both terrifying and freeing, joyous and upsetting. The global pandemic in conjunction with increased attention to systemic racial violence towards Black Americans has further propelled me to take a seat. The former is an unprecedented experience for those alive today and the latter is what we have, unfortunately, come to know too often. This climate vaguely reminds me of moving through the sludgy trenches of active addiction and moving into the scary new terrain of sobriety, which brings its own drawers of highs, lows, and moments of paralysis. In not knowing how to proceed, sometimes the kindest action to take for my recovery is to take none at all and to embrace my nothingness and mortality while also upholding that I am important, matter, and can be an agent of change.

 

How Do You “Do Nothing”?

So much of any addiction or obsessive tendency is an allergy to stillness, an orientation towards doing to get out of one’s self, which is to say, the body and feelings. This state of dis-ease and restlessness might render it seemingly impossible to take no action, but it is in inaction that one’s potential, inner energy and thoughts can cull and incubate. This period of rest and stillness is essential for growth and taking actions and speaking from a wiser place. […]

Holding Recovery Boundaries in a Pandemic

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic requires those of us in recovery from substance use disorder to stay especially vigilant about our boundaries around our sobriety as well as our changing relationships to ourselves, others, and our physical surroundings. A call to strengthen recovery boundaries may sound like a paradox in a time where restrictions are aplenty, but restrictions denote a sense of deprivation whereas holding and maintaining boundaries — another important addition for your sober toolbox in a pandemic — can usher in a sense of space, abundance, and spiritual growth towards your recovery.

 

Definition of a Boundary

Boundaries aren’t walls. They are non-negotiable feelings, thoughts, needs and preferences that are unique to you explaining what you will or will not do, accept, or tolerate. Boundaries demonstrate where we end and someone else begins. 

For those of us also in recovery from codependency, people-pleasing may be familiar to us and lead us to numerous incidents of self-abandonment. While being in active addiction is a very obvious form of self-abandonment, saying “yes” when you mean “no” or “no” when you mean “yes,” are other examples of violating your own emotional boundaries. Codependents use external stimuli and signals to define and regulate themselves emotionally. If this pandemic renders you without employment or a reduction in other opportunities or experiences you were looking forward to and that affects your sense of self-worth or intrinsic value, that is a sign that you may be too-closely identifying with your externals to determine your sense of self.

 

Virtual Meeting Boundaries

As we connect virtually more than ever and less in person, it’s essential to know our limits in the […]

Adjusting Your Sober Toolbox in a Pandemic

Working a program of recovery during this COVID-19 pandemic may be tricky but it is important however you choose to go about it. This is an opportune moment to double down on existing and new recovery tools, a time to recalibrate and focus on what you have been meaning to dive into. If, like me, you were privy to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) before the pandemic struck, you may feel those anxieties soften upon self-quarantining. With less options for outdoor activity and social gatherings, I’ve experienced more space and time around recovery work I have been putting off, like reading program literature and completing stepwork. There is no singular way to navigate a pandemic and no fixed set of tools, but read on for some practical ones that will guide you towards a sane and sober journey while in lockdown.

 

Online Recovery Meetings

It is often said that addiction is the opposite of connection, whether it’s a bond to others or even to yourself. Although online recovery meetings are not the same as in-person meetings, and oftentimes can get awkward with lagging Wi-Fi connections and the impossibility of reading body language, they are a close second and what is available to us at this time. There is a kind of acceptance I’ve been growing into around the limitations of virtual recovery while embracing the benefits as well.

12-Step Zoom Meetings

Check to see if your regular 12-Step recovery meetings are meeting on Zoom, a video conferencing platform, and if so, whether they are password-protected. Some meetings require participants to e-mail the leader ahead of time for the password, while others list them on their […]

Safe and Smart Travel in Sobriety

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, traveling in sobriety may be the last thing to cross your mind as we’re being encouraged to engage in social distancing and refrain from leaving home. However, the various states of quarantine will be over at some point this spring, and travel opportunities and adventures will await you more than ever in your recovery. You might even be making up for lost time by plotting out travel itineraries that may not have come to you had you not been at home in the throes of cabin fever. Whether you plan on traversing cities, countries, or continents, similar challenges of traveling as a sober person may arise for you. But just as there are challenges, there are joys and blessings of sober travel that far surpass the ephemeral pleasures that substances can provide on these adventures. I can greatly attest to this based on my own experiences traveling in active addiction versus traveling in active recovery. Read on to find out more about what you should consider and ways to help your sobriety blossom while you’re away from home.

 

Drunken Travels and Unmanageability

A brief overview of what traveling in active addiction looked like included a month-long high school group trip to Spain in 2008 in which I threw back eight glasses of wine at dinner, which was quickly followed by getting sick in the bidet (which my roommate had to clean up as I was passed out). In 2012, I studied abroad in India for my spring semester and while I had lots of rich, cultural experiences, the background of my substance use (binge drinking, frequent pot smoking) started to take a great toll on the ways […]

Pause! The Importance of Taking Breaks in Recovery

You’ve broken up with alcohol and drugs, but have you grieved their absence (and the lifestyle those substances encouraged) in your life? They served a purpose but maybe you started to experience a kind of betrayal trauma when they started to turn on you, and you became willing to let them go. Whether you’re completely breaking up with substances, a person, a situation, or just in need of a little break from them, I highly advocate for giving yourself permission to take space. In the everyday sense of the phrase, “taking a break” is crucial in order to avoid burnout while bulldozing through daily activities. With its many connotations, the act of stepping away is ultimately a productive and important action to take that will enrich and brighten your recovery to a state where busyness and spending time in harmful environments with toxic people and substances will lose their appeal.

 

Breaks Within Relationships

With the clarity of sobriety, painful or toxic relationships that once seemed healthy, electric, and  passable may no longer be bearable. Whether these are romantic or platonic in nature (or somewhere in between), it’s important to get honest about how the people you choose to surround yourself with make you feel. Are your emotional boundaries being crossed? Or do you feel safe, seen, heard, and validated around this person? 

Perhaps you’re satisfied in a friendship but the friend does something that triggers you and causes painful emotions like betrayal or jealousy to emerge. Or perhaps feelings of envy or compare-and-despair come up whenever you’re around this person, even though the person hasn’t done anything in particular to trigger you. In either scenario, it’s […]

By |February 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Come Together: Finding Your Communities

We all have an innate desire to be witnessed in our recovery process. It may sound corny, but finding safe communities to grow and be witnessed in are of paramount importance. “Find your tribe” is a saying splattered across wellness circles, but the added layer of being sober can make it initially hard to do so. Though it may be tempting to try and go at sobriety alone, or with one other individual like a therapist or coach, the benefits of diving into a sober community are well worth the initial fears and hesitancies. You may have a knee-jerk reaction to the word community, in which case, find a word that works for you, like crew, gang, or one of my favorites: “my people.” 

Why Join a Community?

A community can be defined as a group of people living in the same place or a group sharing similar characteristics, attitudes, or interests in common. Being part of a community–watching how it moves around, changes, and grows in its various iterations is a rewarding experience. To be able to say, “Remember when this group used to…” is a great indicator of longevity–of the group as well as your personal history within it. To feel like you’re part of something larger is another indescribable experience. Sometimes I get that feeling when I gaze at the moon or stars, as cheesy as that sounds, but it’s a feeling that takes me out of whatever existential dilemma or obsession I’m currently hijacked by. In addition to recovery groups, which I’ll go into below, it’s important to balance different kinds of communities around all of your interests if possible, like art, exercise, […]

Recovery In The New Year

“New year, new me,” is a common adage flashed and scattered across social media for ushering in the new year, though oftentimes used ironically or as a joke. The hyperbolic saying alludes to the idea that somehow, because of the turn of the clock, one must magically gather perspective on how they have been throughout the year and get their act together, as if one were broken, as if there were things to fix. This kind of thinking riddles me with low-grade hopeful anxiety. I distinctly recall binge-reading journal entries on a New Year’s Eve trying to remember what it was I did that year and how I was feeling–an attempt to have it make sense and point towards where I thought I needed to charge ahead.

For those of us in recovery, our “soberversary” may hold greater weight than any subsequent navel birthday or new year ever could. This being said, the advent of the new year can be a nice nudge to reflect on the thoughts, behaviors, and actions that have been working and those that haven’t been as beneficial. One of the blessings of sobriety from alcohol and drugs is that you have the sober reference of being able to stop a behavior that no longer serves you. Therefore, you possess the courage to do it again and regain greater clarity on the way you are living. On the other side of fear of letting a harmful behavior or thought-pattern go is freedom, space, and the ability to be more present.

But First: A Sober New Year’s Eve

Prior to meditating on what lies ahead, make sure to have a solid, safe plan […]

By |December 31st, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sober Autumnal Fun in NYC

Though the Halloween buzz (and your sugar hangover) may be over, the time between now and Thanksgiving can be just as electric and stimulating. Autumn is not only a visually stunning time of year, but also one for sober introspection, cozying up with layers, yummy company, and grounding foods and warm non-alcoholic drinks. However, the upcoming holiday season can be really triggering if you’re not spotchecking your emotions and feelings throughout the day (hours if need be), which may lead you to fantasizing about picking substances up. If the thought of a booze-free autumn gives you chills, rest assured that New York City has got you covered with sober-friendly indoor and outdoor autumnal activities that will enrich your recovery. Read on to get a sense of the adventures available to you in this gorgeous season of color and change, before the magic and mayhem of December hits.

Outdoor Sober Activities

Though it may be nippy and crisp outside, pile on those layers and head outside for visually stunning sights available to in this mad, marvelous city. 

 

Fall in New York City

Group Fall Activities

Despite the touristy and clichéd sound of it, for a group activity, gather friends and go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Brookfield Place, Bryant Park’s Winter Village, Wollman, Lafrak Center at Lakeside, or City Ice Pavilion (just be sure to avoid Fridays and weekends, unless skating with crowds is your thing). Just note that adjacent to a lot of these rinks can be fully stocked bars (which doesn’t make sense, but what can you do), so check in with yourself (especially if you’re newly sober) as […]

By |November 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Feeling Triggered To Pick Up? Here’s What To Consider

Holding space for feelings, especially in recovery, may seem like a tall order on some days and a non-issue on others. This inability to maintain presence with what’s coming up can trigger you to want to use alcohol, drugs, and other substances or engage in other harmful behaviors. I’m here to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with experiencing triggers, no matter how far along you are in your recovery journey. Although cravings can whisk you out of the present moment and into the desperate, hellish realm of grasping and dissatisfaction with what simply is, the state of being triggered is not a sign of weakness or an indication of the quality of your recovery as it can seemingly arise out of nowhere and is, quite frankly, a reminder that you are a human, one who has the courage to be on this radical path of sobriety. The work is learning how to anticipate triggers, befriend them, and know that you don’t have to handle them on your own. It’s important to pay attention to triggers that aren’t directly related to alcohol and drugs, too. If you’re being called to use other substances or harmful behaviors and coping mechanisms, the following information is applicable as well. 

What Is A Trigger?

 A trigger is an internal or external stimulus that can cause you to want to go back to an old behavior, such as abusing alcohol or drugs. That triggers come with no formula can be frustrating, especially if you feel like you’re in a good place in your recovery, but it’s helpful to begin to categorize the two main types of triggers–internal ones that originate […]

You’re At A Sober Living. Now What?

Once you’ve decided that the next step in your recovery journey after addiction treatment or rehab is heading to a sober living, a lot of emotions, questions, curiosities, and concerns may arise–all of which are normal. This decision is a monumental step in helping cement the foundation of your newfound sobriety and one you want to take full advantage of when you decide to go for it. For a general overview of sober livings and how to choose them, see the earlier article on this blog Transitional Living: Aftercare In Recovery, which outlines what to look for in a sober living, such as costs, accommodations, rules and regulations, in-person impressions of the space, as well as strict ethical guidelines. You’ll want a facility with safe, targeted, and holistic residential recovery services that don’t simply focus on one aspect of recovery, but on seeing you as a person with varied needs. 

What should you do after deciding on a facility that feels like a good fit for you? What will readjustment to this new environment entail and how will you go about navigating your time in that space? Read on for some guidance and tips on what self-care within a sober living can look like and how to make the most of your time there. Some of your greatest recovery growth may occur within the confines of a sober living and the simplicities it can offer, which is a beautiful thing.

 

Navigating Structure And Free Time

Rules and Requirements 

An effective sober living is one that has the right amount of structure for you and this can look different for everyone. Many […]

By |September 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments