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Learning To Hang In There

Posted Dec 29 2009 11:08am

We've all seen the poster of the kitty hanging off the tree limb with the caption "Hang In There Baby". But who would have thought that this little blurb could be the foundation of a healthy spiritual life?

We all have both highs and lows as our life sort of ebbs and flows through time. I guess what I'm realizing is that I need to make the most  out of the highs in life so that when the lows come I am better prepared to hang in there.

We're not always going to be feeling like sunshine and roses. That is one thing in life we can pretty much be certain about. What we can't be certain about is how long each of these periods will last. It's not like there is an egg timer you can set that will let you know that you are almost done with a low period in your life. You just gotta ride these things out and... you guessed it, hang in there.

Think about how it used to be. If you started to go through a challenging period in your life you would no doubt try to erase any negative feelings by numbing yourself up with your substance of choice. Fine. But little by little that thing you were doing to "make yourself feel better" ended up causing more problems in your life... so that's not gonna work.

When I entered into recovery I was more than a little shocked to find that I was still experiencing low periods in life. I fell into the trap that many others in our situation fell into... the pink cloud. Once I realized that sobriety didn't automatically equal happiness and ease of life I started to panic.

But I hung in there. I think about the low periods in my early recovery and I just am so thankful that circumstances never put me face to face with my drug of choice because I can't whole heartedly say that I wouldn't have used. I just shake my head now when I think about those times.

What began happening was that it really sunk into my brain that using to get me through difficult situations was not even an option for me anymore. But what now?

In my opinion, you really have to make the most of your time when you are experiencing a stretch of time in your life where things are looking good. You know those times right? You feel good, you have confidence, maybe you have a little more peace of mind, and you are just all around feeling pretty positive about life.

It's in those times that you need to be searching for your spirituality and trying to understand how you got to this point, working on staying in the moment and just doing everything in your power to really be self aware.

Here's why. At some point you will reach a low in your life. A time, much like the one I just went through where I was convinced that nice girls really do finish last, where you can briefly lose hope and start to question why you try to do the right thing when you are still going to feel like this.

If I had become complacent in my happiness I would have been putting myself more at risk for a relapse because I would not have acquired some of the skills that I have to hang in there during these down periods.

Gone (but not forgotten) are the days when my thoughts automatically think of drugs to make myself feel better. This didn't just happen. It wasn't because time heals or any of those things you make think. This is because I have worked really hard to change my thinking around. But it really does take constant work.

It's ok to feel negative. It's ok to not feel happy. It's ok not to want to work out. It's ok not to want to eat right. It's ok to say "what the use". It's not ok to just give up when you have these feelings.

This is the time when you need to really lean on all of the spirituality and self awareness that you were able to gain while you were going through a higher time in life. This is what it's for. It's so that you can hang in there until this passes. Good luck.

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