Thoughts on Building a Sober Life

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One of the key goals in my sobriety program is to build a life that doesn’t have room for alcohol – one that I generally love enough that hard times don’t take me down the rabbit hole to a bottle of wine. What does that look like for me? What would it look like for you? Here are some questions to consider that I think might lead us to some answers – I’m sharing my initial answers as a jumping off point:

  1. What am I curious about?
    Lots of things – science fiction, nature, writing, making and how art might help in the process of recovery.
  2. What is important to me – what really matters?
    I’ll be honest here, my life feels a little upside down right now. What used to matter (making money, being respected, making people happy) are likely the very things that got me into this mess. This one is going to need time and exploration.
  3. What are the patterns/themes in my life?
    Ah, yes, I have a bunch of these – on the positive side, I tend to teach, take leadership roles and embrace adventures. On the not so positive side, I’m prone to falling into victim mode, negative thinking, biting my nails, not liking myself (just to name a few).
  4. What do I want more of in my life?
    Health, happiness, connection, passion (the love kind, sure, but also the kind that drives you to create).
  5. What am I good at?
    I’m organized, loyal (to a fault), technically adept, intuitive. I’m a good problem-solver, a lifelong learner and I have an adventurous heart.
  6. What are my highest priorities?
    This is in a state of uncertainty just now. The priorities I had while drinking have changed and what comes next is just not clear to me yet. I’m working on it – taking the summer off from my regular activities to journal, meditate and explore my curiosities.
  7. What are my secret passions and dreams?
    The passions and dreams I won’t even admit to myself? I don’t think I’m ready to put my arms around this one.
  8. What issues do I care about?
    I care deeply about my own sobriety and women’s sobriety in general and how art and creativity might be a guiding force forward to a new sober life!
  9. In what ways would I want to be of service in the world?
    It’s so easy to say, “I want to make the world better” but how does one person approach that? I’m starting with taking care of myself – stopping the alcohol merry-go-round, talking about my sobriety where I can (and, so far, that’s not very far beyond this blog), figuring out where I want to go next. I think I have to figure out how to be of service to myself before I can hope to tackle the greater good.
  10. What do I want my relationships (love/friendship) to look like?
    Loving, connected, deep. I want relationships that feel reciprocal, that involve a mutual give and take, relationships that can handle anything that comes their way and someone I can safely talk with about the deeper stuff.
  11. What personal qualities do I want to develop?
    Positivity – I’ve always been the person people assume is depressed. I’ll never be that cheerleader type of person that can drive you a little crazy, but I’d love to be someone people generally assume is happy. I want to develop more patience, let go of perfectionism and embrace “good enough” and I want to be able to value myself a little more highly.
  12. What do I want to accomplish in life – what legacy can I leave behind?
    I was watching a talk-show yesterday and one of the guests had accomplished myriad things in his life – politics, music, acting. I do NOT want to be a politician, but I would love to live a life that inspires others to reach higher.

I would suggest setting aside “shoulds” as you ponder these questions. Shoulds really belong to someone else and “shouldn’t” guide you in life planning matters. I also don’t feel that these questions are finite – the answers you or I have today may not be the answers we have tomorrow or a year from now. Put the questions and your answers in a word document, date it and file it so you can revisit it later. That’s my plan!

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