Dealing with Stress in Recovery

13 Aug

I’ve always been someone for whom worry and stress has been an issue. I remember lying awake at night as a 9 or 10 years old, fretting about my father dying as he drove through the night, or not doing well enough at school. More often than not, I was the architect of my own anxiety, wrapping myself up in the spiders web of worry I had woven. 

Secretly, I think I enjoyed it, that sense of vulnerability. It feels similar to the addiction to drama that was part of my drinking and eating disorder days. I wanted something to think my way out of. It made me feel special to have something to fret over. It fitted in with my image of myself as a delicate soul and the older I got, the worse my worrying ways became. By the time I hit my early 20s, my worrying had penetrated the walls of my brain, seeping down into my body and pulsing through my veins, making me feel every anxious thought so viscerally I thought I would melt. This is where alcohol came in. It was the soothing balm that made my body relax, my tight thoughts uncoil. When I first tried to stop drinking, I couldn’t deal with any sort of stress. It was too much for my un-oiled brain and body to cope with, so I did what I knew would work: I drank. Except it didn’t work, because once that alcohol passed through my system, I was left with an even greater sense of anxiety and despair that alcohol had compounded. 

When I embarked on the journey of recovery, I hoped stopping drinking would stop me feel so depressed, but I hadn’t considered its impact on my ability to Deal with Life. 

The principles we learn in recovery give us a new armour, helping us to weather the storms that the sea of life likes to throw at us, and for one I feel like I’m definitely finding my sea legs.

I have, without specifically addressing my anxiety and worry issues, found that they have almost entirely dissipated. In focusing on the principles of recovery that AA and other recovery communities teach, I’ve discovered an amazing new freedom to live unfettered by anxiety and worry. The famous serenity prayer helps me immeasurably: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Every day I apply this thinking to my life in some small way and it helps. 

Another gem of wisdom that my sponsor told me, which helps me daily and I want to share here is a way of thinking about things that you want. I’ve never been able to handle not getting what I want, and would sometimes almost implode from the perceived injustice of things not going my way. Now, she tells me to think that when you want something, ask the universe for it, and there are 3 potential answers:

1) Yes

2) Yes, but not now

2) I have something better in store for you

Filtering my daily desires and experiences through this lens has been life changing. It works at a conscious, cerebral level, helping me think through issues or worries I have, but it also penetrates more deeply, allowing me a general sense of calm I have never experienced before. 

Since I came into recovery I have had huge major upsets in terms of my job and having nowhere to live, and yet I’ve coped amazingly well. I just focus on doing the next thing I can do to be proactive, and wait patiently for the things I can’t control to resolve themselves. This is unheard of, and a gift of sobriety I had never anticipated.

Today I am so calm, despite a big storm having kicked off around me, and it’s all due to being sober. 7 months ago today I drank my last drink, and ever since that day, I’ve grown slowly stronger, learning how to get through life’s challenges. I never thought it would get better, but it has, month by month. I am so glad I stuck around through the cravings, the upset, the low mood, the exhaustion of recovery and trusted those on the road of ahead of me who promised me a better life if I put down the bottle. I know they were telling the truth because here I am, living it!

Happy Wednesday 🙂




17 Responses to “Dealing with Stress in Recovery”

  1. momma bee August 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    This is a beautiful post to read~ Congrats to you! You have come so far. I remember you not even wanting to try a 12 step meeting….. Its true~ once we put down the bottle and gave it time we did see what others said, life would get better. Even if Life gets hard or messy around us, we can deal with it. What did we have to lose? Just the Hell we were in, mentally and physically. Wishing you the best and soon the storm will pass. hugs! MB

    • FitFatFood August 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

      Ahhh mommma BEEE! Great to hear from you as always. Huge progress- this time last year I was starting the 100 day challenge for the first time, and you know how hard I found it…

      How are you doing? Do you still blog? I no longer get it in my reader for some reason 😦

      • momma bee August 14, 2014 at 10:56 am #

        Yes I still blog- I try once a week. I am on WordPress now not Blogger maybe that’s why? Ahhhh took me a while to get it too~ funny I was in Belles challenge when had just had 250 people~ now she has a wait! Who knew there was so many of us, right? I’ll send you my blog link!!! Xoxo

      • momma bee August 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm #
        Here I am 😉 Today is 5 months for me!!! Woot Woot I can’t believe it!

      • FitFatFood August 21, 2014 at 8:28 am #

        5 months?? Amazing!!!!!!!!!!! So pleased to hear it 🙂

      • momma bee August 21, 2014 at 10:57 am #

        Thank you! Me too 🙂 we got this girl!

  2. lucy2610 August 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Woohoo 7 month lady!! Like your 3 things for dealing with wants 🙂 xx

  3. Mind-Full Mom-E August 13, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    I have a hard time not having things exactly the way I want them also. I am like I freaking deserve it for all the crap I go thru. I love this… “think that when you want something, ask the universe for it, and there are 3 potential answers:

    1) Yes

    2) Yes, but not now

    2) I have something better in store for you

    I may have to use this!

    • FitFatFood August 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      Honestly it’s been amazing for me.

      I hope things improve x

  4. carrieonsober August 14, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    7 months is HUGE! You are amazing and this is so inspiring!!
    I love that the stress and anxiety has lessened it’s hold over you despite removing the no.1 stress reliever – who knew that it was the highest contributor all along.
    Being sober rocks – as does the Universe – thanks for the reminder.
    Doing a little celebratory dance here for you and all your hard work to get HERE!!!!

  5. ainsobriety August 14, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    That is all amazing. The serenity prayer is big for me too. It is my reminder to be mindful and stay in the present. What a gift!

  6. primrose August 14, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    look at you all glowy and 7 monthsy 🙂 🙂

    some great reflections here. how inspiring you are my dear! xxx

  7. Annie August 21, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I’m back at Day 2 after my 60 days a few months ago. Drinking in between has been hopeless. But I’m trying again! I’ve been reading your blog, your past posts as well, and it really helps. Thank you! I’m struggling – but I’m trying! Annie x

    • FitFatFood August 21, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      You’ll get there, I know you will. It’s so hard this stuff. Be kind to yourself- I used to hate it when people said this to me, but it’s true. It helps to give yourself a break.

      X x x x

  8. moretomethanthis August 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Congratulations on 7 months! And thank you for the wisdom in this lovely post 🙂 xx

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