“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping.” Elizabeth Gilbert
On a wonderful peaceful walk early this January 1st morning I thought about how grateful I was for having survived 2020, like so many of us are. To myself I said, “Let’s call your Gratitudes, “Rituals in Recovery.”
it took a couple of emotional hits backsliding these last several years to admit that something different was needed. I have come full force, up close and personal with fear and shame experienced as I reverted back to the old-me before sobriety. I let go of rituals of recovery that once grounded me to my here-and-now. Acting, talking, thinking like a dry-drunk became my new norm, using old behavior instead of practicing my sober principles in all of my affairs; (namely the principles of my spiritual program,) knocked me silly.
My ego took front and center and I realized I was Edging God Out of my life. It was the spiritual piece of my program (the most important part!) that I was loosing a grip on. I’d get up in the morning, walk the dog and went immediately to my computer. I proclaimed to others and convinced that I was, “just that busy.”
COVID IS CLAUSTROPHIC
My wakeup sign became the claustrophia of COVID. My nephew had just been diagnosed with cancer at 26 years old and was actively dying. My own dog had to cross his bridge to Rainbowland because of cancer. I was a victim of my thinking. I “imagined” everyone but me was visiting others, eating out, playing and living life, COVID or not. I became a victim of my own delusional thinking.
Alone with just my dog, I began to take pleasure in insulating: I stopped calling friends, stayed to myself and told myself privately that “I needed no one.” Such a natural thing for someone with an addiction to do, right? Yes. But ohh so very dangerous.
Each day my ego reigned supreme, the smaller my emotional and spiritual world became, I became sickly aware of my vantage point closing in on me. The night darkness and impending dread became all that existed in my waking hours. That Itty Bitty Shitty Committee had found its way into my head and was calling the shots loud and clear.
I knew what I had to do. I had to get into WORK, and get out of thinking.
DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT — A BACK-TO-BASICS RECOVERY-APPROACH FOR THE NEW YEAR
“JUST FOR TODAY, I’ll be grateful for the ritual,“
— that I’m here now, taking CARE of myself;
–that I’m sharing with others;
–that I’m upright, vertical and kept the plug in the jug;
–that I have no expectations, and so on and so forth.
Just for today is the day we deserve to evaluate how grounded we want to be, and how intentional we need to be. One way we accomplish this is to invoke a new ritual of recovery, even if it’s putting the top back on the toothpaste, making the bed, or hitting our knees in prayer. It doesn’t matter what the ritual is, so long as it’s premeditated, that we act “as if,” and that we come back and repeat the practice every day.
Why Are Rituals of Recovery so important?
Rituals give us a sense of permanence.
Rituals of recovery are reliable, becoming the psychological backbone of who we intend to be, as we identify and purposefully commit to preparing a new plan of self-care for ourselves. In so doing, we are telling ourselves and our world that, “we are worth the time and effort, just like anyone else.” Because we deserve to be on the same plain as anyone else.
Rituals are constant and create structure and reliability for us;
Continual practice of our rituals of recovery can become boundaries that we agree to adhere to and practice in our effort to reach our highest, our best self.
Purposeful and with direction, rituals provide stability in our thinking, a reason at times, to keep going.
What others are Saying about the Necessity of Rituals:
In the article “How to Develop a Healthy Daily Routine in Recovery,” by on September 14, 2018, the writer takes time to point out facts that illustrate the need for structure in our lives; especially for recovering addicts/alcoholics.
In the article 18-reasons-why-a-daily-routine-is-so-important , it is a great segue to our daily realities: where we should be placing our energies vs. where we are not.
Rituals become an important portal to the command-center of our brain.
Every-single-time we proclaim a new ritual with intention, it is a new imprint we produce that says we agree to explore or do something of importance to us differently on cognitive, emotional and physiological levels.
When we implement a new routine/ritual we experience a shift as we become a part of a universal inertia that says action begets more action. We tell the Universe in our DO-ING that we DESERVE to live clean and sober another day, with fortitude and determination. And we do!
Routines/Rituals TELLS our command center we are stronger now: that we can do this just for today, because who can’t do ANYTHING just for today?
We come to believe in this mantra because OF THE WORK we do. It is the work, the specific commitment we make that becomes a part now, of our emotional-selves, and we begin to “feel” and “morph” a little bit more strongly each day.
Because we’ve given life to our new ritual, we allow the brain to get UP again and command our physical self to take charge. We’ve put it on alert that changes are coming right this minute and together with our emotional, physical, and psychological (spiritual) self we begin to prove to our psyche and our Highest Selves that, by God, we mean business.
BECAUSE WE’VE CREATED NEW BOUNDARIES, NEW RITUALS AND NEW ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OURSELVES every single day.
I don’t know about you but there are days that I wonder “WHY” I have to get UP out of bed? I’m depressed, I’m lazy, I’m full of self-pity.
I must get up, show up and DO up because I am, JUST FOR TODAY, in a war of my life. I allow myself ten minutes to think about it: to piss and moan about it (courtesy of a great sponsor) but then I have a RESPONSIBILITY TO who? My mother? My husband? My children or friends?
NO — I have a responsibility to me to be the best of everything, just for today. NOTHING MORE!
If I want to drink/drug, I’ll think about it tomorrow. When tomorrow comes you see, I postpone that stinking thinking all over again. Why?
I’m claiming pride and satisfaction in myself for the purpose I feel doing something different: for moving OUT and BEYOND the comforts of eating, sleeping and TV, and I’m doing something for me!~ Not for anyone else, just for me. In so doing, rituals of recovery become a positive, affirming life-line. They ARE some of the reasons we get up, and in so doing, we “become” the change in perception necessary to get out of ourselves enough to think and do for others.
Today, a new ritual I’ve made for myself is to sit in quiet solitude for just five minutes and allow myself to FEEL. Because of my courage to FEEL, this ritual becomes my jumping-off place, the high-board I can spring from to do other small things, just for today!~ Because it didn’t KILL me; because I didn’t DIE from feeling; because I can rise up and take on MORE little things, just for (rest of) today!~
Doing something different is also instrumental to our success in maintaining long-term sobriety. We face and take care of what we must within the rest of our 24 -hours and no more. Our rituals and routines help to retrain our brain to focus on life where our feet are: what is in front of us to do right here. We may die tomorrow. But because tomorrow isn’t born yet, what may happen (or not) tomorrow, is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. Our business is in the here and now.
Rituals and boundaries are the hope and faith I live for because without these, I will surely die a slow, numbing, boring and incomprehensible demoralized life. And I’ve already DONE that!
Just for today, find the time to spend a few well deserved moments with yourself in quiet peace and comfort and ask: “What changes can I make, no matter how small, to make a difference in the way I “see” and “think” myself in my world.” Because “As you think, so shall you become.” (Bruce Lee.)
We all have what it takes to do something different.
We just can’t “see” it until we step out on faith and do it!
Today could be the GREATEST, the most pivitol day of change in your life. A to think it all begins and ends with our “perceptions,” and a bit of HP’s help, faith, and inner-courage. It’s there. Trust yourself, Trust your HP. and be like Nike!!~
With love and affection to all of us in recovery.
Miracles of Recovery can happen for you when we do something different we deserve. Like buying my book!~ It happens, too, each Sundays 2:00 p.m. Intherooms.com! Come and be a part-of with us this great meeting in a great place for meetings.