When life throws you curve balls that cause you pain such as bad break ups, stressful situations and even deaths our coping skills are put to the test. Every individual deals with situations such as those and more very differently. Alcoholics and Addicts all deal with them the same way…..we don’t. We run from it by getting tore up. We use the alcohol and the drugs to do it. We do not have any coping skills, the booze and the alcohol become our coping skills.
So what happens when you’re in recovery and life throws you those same curve balls? Life still happens clean or sober. Let’s face it, when you get clean and sober, the skies do not open up and the angels do not start singing. Life does not automatically become all peaches and cream. When life happens and you’re in recovery, it becomes a test. Recovery gives us the tools we need and we must use them every single day. When we get clean and sober our diseases don’t just go away. As a matter of fact, our diseases get stronger, they are behind us doing push ups. Dealing with loss of any kind in recovery becomes the perfect excuse for relapse unless you’re strong in your recovery.
When I first entered into recovery, this man walked into the room. For whatever reason, he caught my attention. For almost an hour he didn’t say a single word. When he did speak, what he said blew my mind. He said that just prior to the meeting he was in the hospital with his wife who had just passed. He went straight from the hospital to a meeting. Of course this was my first day and my immediate thought was, “This guy is stupid as hell, if it was me who lost my wife I wouldn’t be here, I’d be getting as fu*&ed up as humanly possible!”
I couldn’t understand going through something like that and not be drunk. It wasn’t until I had to deal with death a year into my own recovery that I understood. The first death I actually had to deal with happened twenty-one years earlier, it was the death of my daughter. When she died, I didn’t grieve, I shut down completely. It was difficult, but not only did I do it, I did it completely sober. Between 2011 and 2014 I’ve been to a total of five funerals of people close to me, and I made it through without drinking. How? I used the tools that were given to me and I had to keep reminding myself that no matter what life threw my way, I would accomplish nothing if I drank. If anything, it would make a bad situation worse. Getting drunk may take away my pain temporarily, but it would still be there when I sobered up so what’s the point?
No matter how bad any given situation may be, there isn’t any amount of alcohol or drugs that will change it or make it better. That’s the truth of the matter. We must develop the coping skills needed to deal with life. The situations in general won’t kill us, but the drugs and alcohol that we use to deal with them surely will. That’s a fact. The ONLY thing you will accomplish by using or drinking during these situations is further pain. The tools that we are given in recovery won’t stop things from happening, but they will help us to get through it.
Feelings are something that most of us turn off or don’t express. We feel that showing emotions makes us weak. The reality is by not dealing with emotions, it makes us weak to the chances of relapse. Learning how to feel and deal with those feelings is a very important part of recovery. Not very favorable to those of us who have spent most of their active addictions closing them down. However, not feeling is got us where we are. Drugs and Alcohol isn’t our problem, it was our solutions to our problems. You’ve got to learn to cope like the rest of the “normal” world without them.
The only way to learn the skills you need is to remain in recovery and work it every single day. Learning these coping skills takes time. You didn’t become an alcoholic or an addict over night and you’re not going to get better over night. In the mean time, you should stay close to others in recovery to help you cope, take the suggestions and under no circumstances should you use or drink.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist