Acceptance has taught me to not freak out about what I cannot control—empty shelves, shuttered businesses, and canceled plans. I may not like it but I can accept it—and even find the gift in it.
Fear, confusion, anger, grief. What a crazy month this has been! Moods are rightfully heavy right now, due to the unprecedented COVID19 crisis. With the whole world seemingly in panic mode, and everyone struggling to cope with the forever life-altering implications of this virus and the current shutdowns, I cling to one silver lining: Recovery has definitely prepared me for this shit.
The crisis is both global and personal. And although it’s definitely the first global crisis of its kind in my lifetime, it’s far from my first huge personal crisis. This ain’t my first rodeo: That one was getting sober. The gravity of the life change I had to make felt heavy and undoable. But so did continuing to live in addiction. Day by day, I got through it. And day by day, I began to accept the permanence of the change, and eventually find all the benefits in it. Basically, I was far from thrilled about my switch to sobriety in the beginning. But gradually, as I continued to work a program of sobriety and take the next right steps, my mindset changed. I learned to love and appreciate my new sober life. Right now, I am far from an attitude of acceptance towards the current medical crisis. However, I know that I can get there, because I have learned to accept and then appreciate hard changes in the past.
I also learned the value of service and community in recovery. Right now we need our support communities more than ever, and I am so grateful for the abundance of online meetings and gatherings popping up every day. I’m lucky that because I am sober I have real friends I can turn to when times are tough. We are staying connected however possible! I also know, thanks to recovery, that my ability to be of service is vital to my mental health. Regularly reaching out to others and asking them how I can help them keeps me out of my own demoralizing pity party.
I asked a few of my friends in recovery how they felt their journeys of sobriety have helped them cope this week. Here’s what they said:
“I used to deal with every semi-stressful situation the same way. I would buy a bunch of whatever booze I was into at the time, and numb myself until I had made the situation drastically worse. I did this for years, never feeling my feelings, never dealing with the bad stuff, just drowning it away.
Transitioning from alcoholic life to a clean life was a drastic change. I changed my job, my friends, moved, started exercising regularly… this list goes on. Whatever happens how, I know that I will be ok. I know that changing my life into a life of recovery was the biggest change that will ever happen in my life. I know that ‘this too shall pass’ and it always does.
The community I have in recovery is a group of people that has my back. When I was drinking I thought I had friends, but they weren’t there when the times got tough, only when there was a party. These sober people around me are the ones holding shit together. They are the ones that are holding me up through this crisis.
Self-isolation is something I had to do in the early days of getting sober. Everything outside of my safe zone was triggering and far too many paths existed that would take me to destroying myself. Quarantining for COVID-19 reminds me of those days. Recovery taught me to deal with the bad shit without tearing myself apart. I now have dozens of ways to entertain myself from home that also cultivate positivity instead of self-destruction or fear.
Experts have recommended drastically cutting down alcohol intake as one of the best things you can do for your immune system. So basically, without recovery I would be in terrible health and have no positive coping mechanisms or people to support me through this.” – Zachary Minnich
“Recovery has given me the gift of acceptance. Acceptance has taught me to not freak out about what I cannot control—empty shelves, shuttered businesses, and canceled plans. I may not like it but I can accept it—and even find the gift in it.” – Roses
“My recovery journey has everything to do with how I have been able to stay semi-calm through this current crisis. The principles I have learned in 12-step programs such as ‘One day at a time, this too shall pass’ and keeping an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ have been monumental for me when fear starts to creep in. My yoga practice has taught me to slow down, be patient, and trust that everything is going to be okay. Also, that things don’t always go as planned and I do my best to stay open and optimistic and hope for the best possible outcomes. These practices help me find peace and serenity amidst the chaos and I am grateful that I have been on this spiritual path to prepare me for the uncertainty that we are all experiencing.” -Emily Killeen
“Self-care means more than a trip to the nail salon. It means listening to your body’s needs, both emotionally and physically. Eat, sleep, exercise. Whatever it takes to get through the day. Some days this might mean taking the dog for three walks, on others it may be binge watching Schitt’s Creek until noon.
Listen to your emotions, they are telling you something. We must allow ourselves to grieve losses and disappointments.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but rather strength.
Learning to lean in to fear is a superpower.
The phrases ‘one day at a time,’ ‘keep it simple,’ and ‘this too shall pass’ are words we live by.
Fostering connections, especially in times of change and uncertainty, is the single most important thing we can do for ourselves and our communities.” -Margaret Ward
“My life was hell in addiction! Getting through that and getting sober has given me hope that things will always be okay as long as I put faith in my higher power.” -Alessandra Hurt
“My sobriety (a collection of tools including yoga, breath work, meditation and AA) has taught me to slow down, to think things through before I act on them and to be considerate of others around me. In this time that a lot of people are in crisis, I can be of service by putting others first and not drop into my selfish ways that could lead to relapse. I choose to be of service.” – Ryan Griffis