Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Routine - The Bane and Blessing of Recovery

When you were steeped in your addictive behavior you had routines. You may not have recognized them as routines, but they were. You traveled certain routes, visited certain places, hung out with certain people and behaved in certain ways that were predictable...habitual, if you will. These habits helped to sustain your addiction. There was a regularity, a familiarity to the routine that allowed you not to think about what you were doing so you could just do it.

Then you hit bottom (except for those still headed to the bottom).

Once you enter recovery one of the most important things you can do is develop a whole new routine. In fact, if you fail to develop a whole new routine you will most certainly fail at recovery. I can say that with certainty because we are creatures of habit. We are drawn to routine and our old addictive routine will call us back if it has not been replaced by a new routine.

That's one reason why those who are just entering recovery are encouraged to attend a meeting every single day for at least 30 days. If you establish the routine of attending a meeting every day your old routine will be crowded out. If you develop a new group of friends you won't have time for your old group of friends. When you anchor yourself in a new routine of recovery your old routine of addiction is less likely to find a way back into your life.

This is for certain. You are a creature of habit that will gravitate toward routine just as sure as water runs downhill. If you're not intentional about establishing a new routine your old routine will return.

If you don't have a new routine yet, start today. If you do have a new routine, stick with it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why One Day at a Time?

If you're in recovery you know how important it is to take one day at a time. To think about maintaining recovery for a week or a month or a year is so overwhelming that when we do that we often just give up.

In the Biblical book of Matthew Jesus says that each days troubles are sufficient for that day. That's an interesting thought. He doesn't say you won't have trouble. He says the trouble you will have today is sufficient for today. Think of it this way, God has baked just the right amount of trouble into your day. Trouble helps refine us. It causes us to confront our weaknesses and shortcomings; our character defects. Without trouble would you be in recovery right now?

The problem comes when we take it upon ourselves to add trouble to a day that already has exactly the right amount of trouble in it. When we do that the recipe is thrown all out of whack. And we end up with a disgusting mess, sometimes so bad we convince ourselves that returning to our addiction is easier than sticking with recovery.

So stop adding trouble to your day. Your day has just the right amount of trouble and if you take life one day at a time you'll have God's strength and the support of your recovery community to deal with it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Not Fireproof!

I've been away a very long time from this blog.  And, to be honest, I've been away from regular attention to my recovery, as well. Two years ago I accepted a new position that required a move from Colorado back to Illinois. It took me a long time to decide to make the move.  I did a lot of praying and seeking counsel and talking with my wife and family. I felt I was being very good about my due diligence.

One concern I had was that the environment I would be going into was not healthy. I made the mistake of discounting this. I felt I had worked my recovery long enough and diligently enough that I was strong enough to go into an obviously unhealthy place and maintain my health. In terms of my recovery this was a tragic and costly mistake.

For a few months I clung to my commitment to stay in recovery. I attended meetings weekly and tried to hold on to my sanity and sobriety. But I dramatically underestimated the power that unhealthy people and an unhealthy place can have when you put yourself in the middle of it on a daily basis.

Now two years later I've been set free from that place but it's been a year and a half since I've regularly attended any recovery meetings. So there is much work to be done, messes to clean up and a long road ahead. I am not discouraged even though I'm disappointed with myself.  It's a lesson I need to relearn that jumping into a fire thinking your fireproof doesn't keep you from getting burned!