How Do You Do It?
I was recently asked how I made it through the first year of being clean from crystal meth. A few things came to mind but otherwise I was at a loss for words. I knew there was more to life. The first year, I had a daily routine that helped me get through some of my most difficult hours and days. At that moment, that question reminded me that I couldn’t have just simply stop doing what I did and expect to keep my sobriety going strong.
These are the things that carried me through the first twelve months:
- Each night before bed, I journaled. I wrote about everything: people, feelings, places, food, events, work, school. If the thought came into my head, it went on paper. I made sure I included a list of items for which I was grateful, including anything that made me feel bad or sad. I took inventory of my part in life and things for which I am completely responsible and those for which I have no control over.
- I wrote self-affirmations on my bathroom mirror. When I started to doubt myself, or when my mind would start in on the negative self-talk, I would go to the mirror and say the affirmations aloud. “I am worth being clean.” “I am a good person.” “I am a good son, brother, uncle, and doggie-daddy.” At the recommendation of my therapist, I listed twelve. The affirmations helped me believe in myself.
- I meditated at night and (as needed) throughout the day when I was feeling upset or anxious. My favorite YouTube meditations are by Jason Stephenson. His guided meditations helped me stay in the moment and connect myself back to my body and out of my head.
- I read and listened to audiobooks by Thich Nat Hanh, Pema Chodron, and Dr. Wayne Dyer. I watched inspiring TedTalks on mental illness, addiction, happiness, and achieving goals. I listened to Abraham Hicks to reinforce that my thoughts create my own reality and that I can choose to swim upstream or go with the path of least resistance.
- I regularly participated in individual therapy and continued care with my psychiatrist for medication management. I attended 12-Step meetings.
- I was abstinent for the first year because I needed to separate sex from my drug use. Relationships tend to be one of my biggest triggers. I did attempt to date once in that first year and I was quickly reminded that my sobriety needed to be a first priority. I needed to be well so I could have a healthy relationship.
- Going outside with my dog and finding the new hobby of dock dog diving helped me tremendously. I recall one therapist in treatment suggested getting a hobby and I always thought she was just being pushy. Come to find out, it was a fantastic recommendation and has made a big impact on my sobriety.
These things helped me get through some tough times. I recall once I was feeling lonely and sad so I went online looking for a hook-up and meth. I was sweating and breathing fast just like I did in active addiction when I was waiting on the dope man to deliver the goods. I think meditation was the reason why I could slow my thought process down and realize what a stupid and messed idea that was.
There were times when I would look at my veins and think how good it will feel to shoot up. Today, because of all the self-care I do, I can play the tape forward until I feel a burn in my gut and realize that getting high is the last thing I want to do. I am worth staying clean and have a wonderful life no matter how difficult it can be at times.
I am grateful for the girl who asked me how I did it my first year. At 70 days clean, she is doing great and I hope to see her again soon so I can share all the things that worked for me. By reconnecting with my own past, I am now able to add some of the items back into my routine when I need it most. I think, most importantly, I have refreshed my memory so I can be of better service to other addicts. Thank you, Stef!