Sobriety & Meditation: Observing Thoughts, Breaking Free From Shame and the Burden of the Past.
In a previous post titled "Sobriety vs Recovery and the Transfer of Addictive Behavior"I discussed how sometimes in our journey to sobriety we can "get sober", yet without addressing the underlying causes of our addiction we can transfer our addiction into other areas of our lives. For me, when I got sober, my addictive behavior transferred over into spending money (impulsive spending), consuming large quantities of caffeine and work. Through observing these behaviors I realized something VERY important. These things were either time fillers and something I thought would make me feel better in the moment.
Something I hear often from people who are getting sober is that they are concerned with all of their new found free time. Alcohol is something we tend to turn to our of boredom or out of our search to feel some type of excitement. I used to feel extremely antsy, bored, lack of excitement, lack of joy always seeking a thrill and I used to use alcohol to fill that void. Come to find out, I was actually running from something.
I was NOT okay just being by myself. I was running from stillness. I was running from being alone with myself. I was running from facing what my life had become. I was running from facing my traumas. I knew that if I didn't drink then I would be forced to face my reality. I would be forced to take a real look at myself and my life. So instead, I would drink to forget. Drink to numb out.
When I got sober I was stripped of that crutch. Without alcohol I felt naked and exposed. I could no longer hide my wounds or try to forget them. There they were, wide open.
What happened then was that I found other outlets. Other distractions. I was still avoiding dealing with my pain. Whenever things in my life would start to slow down I would desperately seek something to fill my time. I constantly kept myself busy. Even though I didn't need to buy anything I would compulsively search the internet for things to spend money on. I would spend hours looking up items, reading reviews, filling that downtime with anything I could. I would spend hours at Target browsing for things I absolutely didn't need. I would work as much as possible until I burned myself out. I would drink more and more caffeine so that I could keep myself in "go-go-go mode". I never allowed myself quiet time, or time to just not think. I kept myself constantly distracted. I had quit putting the alcohol to my lips, but I was not yet tending my wounds.
Often times when we are avoiding an unpleasant feeling or situation we do so by keeping ourselves busy. It's easy to do this with things like drinking alcohol, shopping or working (or whatever else your vice may be). If we aren't self aware enough to notice this it can really get us into some trouble physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Once I realized my transfer of addictive behavior I had to check myself. I had to sit myself down and ask "what are you running from?" When I finally realized that I was running from myself, I knew what I needed to do. LEAN INTO IT. Lean into the discomfort. Lean into the pain. Find out why I was so damn uncomfortable being still with myself and with my very own thoughts.
I decided to do this through mindfulness and meditation. What better way to get to know yourself than by removing all outside distractions and really starting to observe your thoughts. Meditation is so vulnerable and raw and really brings on a new level of self awareness and self love. It's like finally being in a relationship with yourself. We have spent so many years damaging and degrading our own bodies by pumping it full of poison which is such an unloving act to ourselves. We have created resistance and an unhealthy, unloving relationship with ourselves. Getting sober gives us the opportunity to mend and repair this relationship. The most important relationship we have in life is the one we have with ourselves. This is also usually the most neglected one.
When I first started meditating it was really hard. My first time alone with myself and my thoughts I was overcome with heavy feelings of shame, regret, embarrassment. I finally allowed myself to take a look at what my life had become. I finally allowed myself to realize all of the pain I had caused myself and others by my drinking. I could no longer run or distract myself from these feelings. There they were.
The beautiful thing about this is that when we distract ourselves from feeling, those feelings don't actually go away. They weigh on our hearts and minds. They create depression and anxiety. When we finally address them, it gives us the opportunity for true healing and ultimate freedom. We get to face them, acknowledge them, thank them for the lessons they've taught us, and then let them go. We don't have to live under the burden of our past. We get to forgive ourselves and let go. We get to move forward with the opportunity to create the life we want. The life we deserve.
Try it. Try sitting in stillness, alone with yourself. See what thoughts come up. Even if they are negative, just acknowledge them. Don't try to control them, don't try to make them go away. Just acknowledge their presence and sit with them. This is how we start to truly know ourselves. This is how we begin to heal. This is how we begin to love ourselves again.
** If you are sober, or curious about sobriety, we would love for you to join our Facebook group - Mindful Times Facebook Community for support, encouragement, accountability and questions.
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