One of my favorite things about my recovery is that I have built a toolbox I can use at any moment, for any emotion, and I can be brought back to peace and to the present moment. I have a list of tools I use to help me when I am feeling triggered, fearful, or uncomfortable. I use these tools to stay sober. But, I also use these tools to help me grow as a person. Here is a list of the top 5 tools I use in my recovery.
By Lara Frazier, Clean Recovery Centers
Johann Hari, author of Chasing The Scream, says that “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection.” In my addiction, I felt isolated and alone. I had very little support and no one to talk with about my fears, doubts, and experiences. I know that the more I abused drugs, the more isolated I became. I chose drugs over everything.
I think it is critical to find and/or join a network of people that can support you. In the beginning of my recovery, I found this community in my peers at work, in the women I lived with in my sober living home, and also in 12 step meetings. As my recovery has evolved, I’ve found this community in fitness classes at my gym, in Buddhist meditation meetings, in kundalini yoga classes, and in friends I’ve found through the internet and digital recovery circle.
There are so many options to build community and if one doesn’t feel right for you, you can search for another. Many of my sober friends have found community in CrossFit, in Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery, from attending retreats, and from joining groups that peeked their interest off meetup.com.
The goal of my sobriety is to build a life I don’t want to escape from. I know that my sobriety and my life have evolved and grown because I’ve built a network of women I can reach out to and I’ve found a community that will support me.
The moment I began building a relationship with God is the moment my whole life changed, for the better. Sometimes, I interchange the word “God” for “The Universe” or “The Divine.” I don’t see God as a man in the sky who is judgmental or something to fear. I see God as love.
I had an on and off relationship with God my entire life. Sometimes I would pull close to God, and other times I would pull away. I believe the dogma surrounding someone else’s image of God is what kept me stuck. In early sobriety, I started reading the poetry of Rumi, a mystic Sufi, and I found God in his words. I started talking to God all throughout the day and we started to build this relationship that I had never experienced before. I could talk to God in my voice. I didn’t have to recite prayers I learned in religious schoolings. God could hear me exactly as I was.
The reason prayer is so important to me is because it has allowed me to have faith and basic trust that there is a power greater than me that has a divine plan for my life. When I trust this plan, I don’t have to fight anything or anyone. I have faith knowing that whatever is happening to me, is happening for me, not to me.
Meditation helps me because it allows me to practice mindfulness. I don’t judge my thoughts and I can listen without reacting. I pay attention to the present moment and I don’t get lost in worry about what will or won’t be. I can be with myself. It has allowed me to become far less combative and reactive. I have built a stillness inside myself and can listen to a voice that doesn’t use words.
I have always been an avid reader, a seeker, and a student. I love to learn. However, I didn’t truly know or understand how important it was to read books around subjects that may help me become a better person. I first started reading books on addiction and co-dependency as those were two of the top issues I struggled with. I then found myself engrossed in self-help books.
Books have allowed me to become more open-minded, to have a better understanding of myself and the world around me, and to learn more about the science of addiction. Books have also taught me how to create joy, how to resolve trauma, and how to live a more peaceful life. They’ve introduced me to new spiritual practices and they’ve helped me become a better teacher and human.
Movement is a newer tool that I have integrated into my sobriety toolbox. I didn’t work out much in early recovery. I was more focused on my mind and my soul, as opposed to my body. I didn’t understand why connecting the mind, body, and soul was that important.
However, as I’ve started lifting weights, practicing yoga, dancing, and going on walks – I’ve found myself in a better state of mind. My emotional health has improved. I’ve also found more joy in life by simply moving my body. They say that your issues are stored in your tissues. As soon as I started moving my body, I was able to release hurt that I didn’t even realize I was carrying.
My hope is that more programs of recovery will focus on the importance of exercise, movement, and nutrition in early recovery. These subjects and tools were rarely mentioned to me. However, exercise can be an excellent way to overcome cravings, to get rid of anger, and to connect to your body in a way you probably haven’t done in years.
Service will always be my most important tool. Some people in recovery believe that the only way you can be of service is by helping another person who is overcoming their addiction. However, service can be integrated into your entire life. From the way you smile at people you pass to how you treat people in the grocery store. You can live your life in constant service just by being a loving and compassionate human who holds kindness as their greatest asset.
Lara Frazier is a truth-teller, a sobriety warrior and a writer. She is a FIERCE believer in the power of owning our stories and is a strong advocate for addiction recovery. Lara shares a story of healing: in sobriety, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Find more of Lara’s work on her website at www.larafrazier.com or follow her on Instagram @sillylara.