How to Live in Recovery: Journey to Self-Actualization

There are so many articles and discussions about getting started in recovery and facing the challenges of early recovery, but not as much for those who have a year or more behind them.
For those of you who have found a path in recovery, you’ve probably been told to “give it back” by helping other addicts who have less clean time or no clean time. For me, this has been a wonderful piece to my journey, but there’s more to it than that.
Recovery is not abstinence. If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of that. So what is it? It’s filling the void. Ok…So what’s lacking? I sure don’t know. It’s different for everyone. Sure, we have a lot of similarities in our stories as well as our needs, vales etc., but the details of your journey to self-actualization are for you to figure out.
In active addiction, how did we try to stop the pain or fill the void? Mask it, suppress it and try to change the world to suit our needs. The one thing that we needed to do to start the healing process was look inward. Scary stuff. But we got there.
Whatever it is you’re recovering from, it’s important to do regular check-ins with yourself to make sure that you are living a lifestyle conducive to recovery. These self-inventories can help us to avoid using our “old behaviors” in new ways.
Not drinking and drugging is an obvious part of recovery, but we also have to continue to grow as a person and watch out for out old ways of dealing with problems. This starts from within. How do you perceive the problem? Always be willing to look at your part. If I see a road raging driving on the highway and find myself affected by it, I still have to look at my part. Maybe I will need to move to a different lane to keep the passengers in my car safe. Getting angry and trying to break-check this a-hole isn’t going to solve anything. It’s going to fuel both of our anger and provide for an even more dangerous and possibly life threatening situation on the road. Maybe I’m only responsible for 1% of the problem, but that’s the only part I have control over. We cannot control other people and when we start attempting to fix the rest of the world we lose sight of what brought us to our path of recovery in the first place. Looking inward.
I’m on my journey to self-actualization and I have some ways to go, but I’m confident that I’m on the right path. I want to share with you some of the things that have helped me to realize my path.
1. Meditation
Taking time each day to appreciate what I have, pray, and to think about what little steps I can take to improve myself. Spending some time each day reminding myself to let go of the need to control and to have some faith. I usually meditate on my gratitudes in the morning and do a self-inventory at night. This allows me to stay focused on the now and to experience the life I’m in at the moment. I don’t want to spend too much time in the past or the future.

2. Learning
Whenever I have a little extra time, I like to read, watch YouTube videos, or listen to other people’s stories. I love to learn about different ideas and theories even those that I don’t agree with. It helps me to keep an open and active mind. When I have the opportunity I try new things just for the sake of having a new experience, whether it’s trying a new food, hiking a new trail, or visit a place I’ve never been (it doesn’t have to be something extravagant it can be a historical site in the city or a scenic park). The goal is to always work on expanding my mind and appreciating the beauty around me. If I’m not careful, I can start to absorb the negativity from the news, Facebook or bad drivers (to name a few sources). I can easily fall back in the trap of distorted thinking if I don’t keep feeding my mind positive things.

3. Holistic and natural healing
This has been an important piece of my puzzle. I spent so many years damaging my body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that the healing process for me, needs to encompass all aspects of the self. I have been to many medical doctors in my recovery and have been back and forth with expensive treatments, conflicting diagnoses, and lots of co-pays. All of this, only to say that I don’t feel too much better. Many of the Band-Aid treatments I’ve received only mask the symptoms and many times cause additional problems. I have found that the most effective health care I’ve received has been from acupuncturists and naturalists. These holistic treatments have cured pain and autoimmune problems that the medical doctors couldn’t figure out, or could only lessen with harmful medications. Loving and appreciating my body is an essential part of my journey. This means taking care of it from the inside out with the purest methods I can fine. To my surprise, this doesn’t cost an arm and a leg either. On the flip side, I have saved a lot of time and money. I use western doctors and medications sparingly to avoid further damage to my body whenever possible.

4. Journaling
Keeping the thoughts, ideas and feelings flowing is important for me. This helps me to avoid suppressing them which will eventually lead to unexplainable pain that tempts me to mask it in harmful ways. There’s no rhyme or reason to the way I journal. If something needs to come out, then it needs to come out. Talking to my besties also helps me to get out that “stuff” that starts to cloud my mind. Whether it’s a resentment, sadness, or frustration, I have a natural tendency to ignore it or dwell on it. Before I know it, I feel stuck in my recovery.
That’s my list of tools. Filling my void with positive thoughts and meaningful experiences keeps me on the right path. I’m not certain of where my path is leading me, but I know that I’m taking steps towards self-actualization each day.

Author: Andrea Antczak

I'm a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III and I've been working in inpatient and outpatient settings in Cincinnati and Dayton Ohio for the last five years.

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