One of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life was deciding that I wanted to live a life free from drugs. It wasn’t a decision I wanted to make, it was a decision I had to make to survive.
My physical health was deteriorating rapidly, my mental and emotional well-being was continuously under attack and my “spirituality” was non-existent. It was as if I was being held hostage inside my mind and my “dark side” had completely taken over.
Everyone I cared about had told me that I have a problem and I should get help before I inevitably end up dying. I didn’t want to live a life without substances but I did want to regain the trust, love, support and respect of the people closest to me. I wanted to be part of my family again and I wanted my old life back, the way it was before drugs had become a real problem.
The only way to achieve this was to "ask for help". So I did, but deep down I felt as if there would still be this emptiness inside of me that I would never be able to fill.
While I was in Rehab I learned what long-term recovery is and everything that goes with it. Within several days of not using, my life began improving almost immediately. My appetite came back and I started eating again. I was sleeping better than I ever had before, and my emotions stabilized. Things weren’t bothering me anymore like they were when I was on a month-long bender. My life started improving and the only real change I made was stopping the use of drugs.
Even though my life was improving I was still having these secret thoughts about one day being able to use with my old buddies and being able to have a celebratory drink once now and then. The more I had these secret thoughts and expectations, the more I felt the darkness trying to creep back.
My first mistake was keeping my reservations to myself, instead of talking about my reservations with my sponsor, instead of asking other addicts if they had ever had these feelings. I bottled them up and buried them. Mistakingly, I didn’t think that others in the recovery community understood how I was feeling. I thought that if I shared my desires it would come across as if I was weak, I was afraid, I was full of guilt, shame and remorse about what I had done in the past. So I kept my reservations a secret. I have learned that a secret if untold for a long period, will manifest itself into something that will eat you up from the inside.
What Is A Reservation and Why Does It Hold You Back?
A reservation means that a person is holding something back. In other words, keeping a secret. It’s a situation where you are either uncomfortable or uncertain about the outcome, so you would rather keep it to yourself.
In my personal experience, someone with a reservation in recovery is most likely working out a way to return to drug or alcohol abuse in case the recovery doesn’t work out for them. These are dangerous thoughts to have because they prevent the person from fully recovering. The only real way to move onto a life of recovery is acceptance and surrender.
What Can You Do To Overcome Reservations?
The first step to overcoming your reservations is to accept that you have them. Understanding that you have reservations is completely ok, but you need to work past them as well. You never have to deal with your reservations alone, speak about them whether to your sponsor, your family, or even to a fellow addict that you feel comfortable with.
Understanding that I never had to go through anything alone and knowing that whatever I spoke about would be listened to without judgment was one of the biggest comforts I came to learn. Once you acknowledge that you have a reservation, it is important to know why you are having it. What is the purpose of that reservation and why can't you let it go? What are you afraid will happen if you let it go?
7 Ways To Battle Your Reservations
Starting to build a new routine is one of the best ways to combat reservations and calm the mind. Here are some ways to start a new routine:
1. Letting Go of Denial
The first step is to recognize the flawed thinking that triggers you truly. Many addicts and alcoholics are in denial about their problems. Once they accept they have a problem, the denial resurfaces again in recovery. This time, the denial is that alcohol or drugs were that bad for us. We may think we had better relationships while intoxicated, performed better, or were more motivated. Recognizing that this thinking is simply, your mind playing tricks on you, will allow you to take more action to change your beliefs for good.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Practising mindfulness is a great way to stop reservations in recovery. Mindfulness can be practised by meditating and focusing on the breath. As you get better at being mindful of simply breathing, you can try being mindful while eating, listening to music, or walking in a park. Slowing down and experiencing the present moment will slow racing thoughts and increase gratitude for living in recovery. Life experiences are so intense and colourful while in a sober state, which can easily be taken for granted.
3. Helping Others
Helping other people in early recovery, volunteering to help the homeless, or volunteering at a local animal shelter can be extremely humbling. It serves as a constant reminder of how things were or how things may end up. When exposed to those less fortunate, it is much easier to be grateful for what we have and what we have accomplished.
4. Recognize Character Defects
Recognizing character defects and trying to change them is not an easy or pleasant task but can be monumental for letting go of reservations in recovery. Since reservations are craving for routine, taking steps to change character defects promotes a new routine. Attempting to change negative behaviour, like anger or outbursts, can help the mind rewire itself. When we recognize when we are wrong and try to make amends, it helps change our entire perspective on life.
5. Gratitude Lists (Doing A Daily Inventory)
Making gratitude lists and daily journaling can be a great way to document your success and growth. As time goes on, you will begin to see the strides you have made in staying clean. This will further promote the idea of recovery and that it is working and making your life better. On day one, your list may be short and thoughts may be grim. A month later you may have a completely different outlook. Going back and remembering how you felt on day one can give you a significant boost of confidence.
6. Find Role Models
Finding role models is crucial for recovery to begin and makes letting go of reservations a bit easier. Recovery role models have likely dealt with reservations themselves and can give meaningful and priceless advice. They can help you set up and plan healthy daily routines to replace your old routines. When in a fit of doubt, they can be there to pick up the phone and help you flip your perspective.
7. Sharing Your Story
Whether it be at 12-step meetings, treatment centres, or other recovery support groups, sharing your story with others and how you have changed can be a major perspective changer and confidence booster. When you say out loud how far you have come, it can become much easier to see the fruits of recovery. Others will likely thank you for your service and any advice you can give. You can get a chance to help the next person and begin to enjoy the new way of life.
Reservations in recovery are inevitable and completely normal but they should be dealt with and over time they will slip away. The best thing to do is forgive yourself and then just help the next person looking to get clean. Appreciation of recovery will come with time and effort.
Navigate the complexities of addiction recovery by understanding and overcoming reservations. This comprehensive guide explores the significance of reservations, the challenges they pose, and effective strategies to conquer them. Delve into practical approaches such as mindfulness, helping others, gratitude lists, finding role models, and the power of sharing your story. With insights on recognizing character defects and building a new routine, discover 7 actionable ways to battle reservations and embrace a successful sober life. Emphasizing the inevitability of obstacles, the conclusion encourages viewing challenges as opportunities for growth with the support of a strong recovery system.
Life After Addiction: The Struggle and the Decision
The Initial Glimpse of Recovery
The Lurking Shadows of Reservations
Understanding Reservations in Recovery
Overcoming Reservations: Steps to Progress
Practical Strategies for Battling Reservations
In conclusion, the blog underscores the inevitability of reservations in recovery and their normalcy. It emphasizes the significance of addressing and overcoming these reservations through self-awareness, seeking support, and adopting practical strategies. The journey toward an appreciation of recovery is portrayed as requiring time, effort, and a commitment to helping others in their recovery journey.