There’s a common idea that people should wait a year of being sober before making any big life changes. However, life goes on after you get sober, and eventually changes will occur. Life is always changing, but recovery gives us the skills to adapt and grow from them.
Staying With the Feeling
One of the biggest gifts of recovery is the ability to sit with and feel your feelings. This might not sound like a gift, since it can be hard; but when you don’t feel your feelings, things tend to get a lot harder.
In the case of big life changes, sitting with your emotions will be really helpful in the long run. Any change can feel like a loss, even if it’s a good change. If you’re already sober, you have experience coping with this. When we get sober, we often have to mourn our former lives and the loss of the substance, even if we know we’re doing the best thing for us.
Tips for Coping With Change
Some people find it helpful to keep a journal during a time of big change. This allows you first to understand what you’re feeling and your thought patterns—then it gives you a chance to process it all. A bonus is that when this change is in the past, you might like to look back and recall how it felt; often, big changes coincide with a major life event that you might want to remember.
Talking to a therapist is also a very useful option. Make sure to keep connected to your support system, as now is a time when you might need extra care.
Your Own Recovery Can Be a Model
While facing challenges and big changes sober is hard, those of us in recovery may be uniquely equipped to do so. We’ve already experienced one of the biggest changes a person can make and practiced healthy coping skills. It’s never a bad idea to evaluate your recovery program and see if things need tweaking; but during overwhelming times, I’ve found it helpful to stick to what I know works, knowing I can always change things at a calmer period.
If you don’t know what works, that’s okay. Pay attention to how the things you’re doing make you feel. If after you’re done with an activity or socializing with a certain person, you feel good and energized, stick with that. If you’re finding a specific person or activity is triggering thoughts of substances, you might have to set some boundaries. We’ve listed tips for doing so here.
While the cliché “change is the only constant” tends to be true, another cliché is also true: “this too shall pass.” Any major change is eventually going to be something you’re used to. While you ride out the most difficult or overwhelming parts, remember that your recovery program can guide you.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build the tools to make it through any life stage sober. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.