This week’s Alchemist Recovery Lesson examines the definition of success in sobriety. While there are several ways to approach this subject, one question I am commonly asked after an amount of time is spent clean and sober is:
Is this as good as it gets?
When we first stop using, we’re presented with a long list of “Thou shalt not’s…” And in order to achieve any type of success, it is important to follow this list: not do the old behaviors, not react the same way to feelings, not give credence to endless mind loops of negative thought, to name a few.
This is good. This is a start.
The “deprivation model of Thou shall not” is absolutely necessary to gain any type of clarity and does provide relief from the pain that comes from using.
But does this constitute success?
Is this as good as it gets?
A client last week added, “Really? I keep reaching my goals and, well, where’s the bang? What’s the big payoff? I don’t see it.
So I say, ‘What’s the point if I’m just as miserable in sobriety?’ and that’s when I relapse.”
WHERE'S THE BANG?
For you to find your bang in sobriety, you’ve got to understand two concepts:
1. Your bang is not “out there” somewhere waiting for you to find it
2. You’ve already got it “in here” somewhere
Looking at the first point, this elusive bang is not some mysterious treasure chest waiting for you to find it outside of yourself somewhere. It’s common to think, “If I don’t have it, well then, I’ll just have to go out and get it.”
So, we go searching out there and never find it. Frustrating, maddening, it feels miserable and often leads to relapse.
Why can’t we find it?
Because the second point says, you’ve already got it “in here” somewhere!
Right now, you already posses the answer inside of yourself.
I guarantee it.
Let me explain.
The “bang” is form of excitement. In addiction, this can appear as risk, danger or the feeling of being “high”. Traditional Chinese Medicine associates these things with the element of Fire, as they are directly related to Desire.
In active addiction, we’ve got plenty of Desire, right?
Think about the times when you made the decision to use. When you committed yourself to acquiring and using your drug of choice.
Did anything stand in your way?
No. Our Desire found ways around whatever obstacles were placed in front of us. The Fire, fueled by our commitment to use was burning brightly and nothing was going to stop us. Not lack of funds, not obligations to friends, jobs and family, and certainly not because we were going to change our minds. We found ways to get, and use, what we so desperately Desired.
See, Fire does burn brightly inside of you. And I’m telling you it’s still in there. The task now is to honor your Heart’s authentic and true Desires instead of feeding it with active addiction. That's how to find the bang.
Next week, in Part 2, I will give my personal experience of how I shifted this Fire from the Desires of addiction to what my Heart truly wanted and offer ways for you to do exactly this.
Randal Lyons helps people struggling with addiction who want long term, holistic care. He uses his own experience in recovery combined with his training as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine through his program, Alchemist Recovery.
If you've got questions about this or any other topic in sobriety, please contact me.