Dark times abound. Armageddon is played 24/7 on the media. An ominous virus sweeps the earth. Squeezing not only the breath from its victims but hope from the people around. The mood is sombre. A vaccine offers a glimmer of hope in these strange times. A slither of optimism. It is there if we choose to see it. But the incessant chatter of doom drowns out the sound of the dove carrying the olive branch. But it is coming.
Recovering addicts are evidence of the resilience of the human spirit. Their tales remind us that no matter how dark it may appear, there is a way back. The slow walk back into the light is possible no matter the distance. They are the reminder that no matter how lost and hopeless we feel there is a way out. The time frame is out of our control but all we can do is cling to the belief, things will get better. Fear is what consumes our spirit. Hope is what keeps it alive.
Some stories have transcended generations. Of the ability of humans to find hope. Tales of survivors of horrific situations who say that hope is what gave them the strength to keep going, even when the odds were stacked against them. Anyone who has quit drinking knows what that can feel like. In the early days, it seems an impossible feat. Life completely flipped 180 degrees and a mind in tatters. The challenge is trying to make sense of all the broken shards of something that probably never made sense in the first place. Addiction is the stealer of hope. Sobriety is the guide back into the light.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.Desmond Tutu
Sitting in AA meetings, I hear the transformation from despair to hope often. Reconnection, restoration, rebirth and love, happen all around. It doesn’t get the media coverage as the devastation does. But it is there. Hope exists inside us all. It gets lost. Consumed by the darkness it becomes despair and depression. A state of hopelessness can be a death sentence. It is destructive. These feelings are exacerbated by addiction. And they are being increased by the lockdown. Loneliness, anxiety and depression are on the rise. Being cut off from our connections to others, we are being forced to face ourselves. This is too much for many. Especially, in cultures dependant on consumption for the escape from the self. But it is an opportunity to connect with yourself. To make peace with yourself. To be reminded that you are a beautiful soul who deserves compassion from yourself. It is a time to reflect. To accept. To become who you were destined to be and be at peace with that person. It is time to be grateful for the things you have. It is time to face the boredom and question what you really want.
If you got sober during this time of uncertainty, then I have the utmost respect. This is a perfect opportunity to hide alcoholic behaviour. Dress it up as a reaction to the lockdown. “There is nothing better to do.” So if you have taken the step to quit during this time, give yourself a pat on the back. If you have stayed sober then kudos. You are stronger than you ever imagined. If you slipped, then there is time. There is still hope. Don’t forget that. The inner turmoil caused by drinking manifests as guilt which is an emotion alcohol can relieve. The cycle starts again. Just keep going one day at a time. Much like all we can do at the minute. One day at a time. When alcohol says “You know you can’t be without me.” Hope whispers, “Don’t listen to temptation. You can make it!”
Don’t ever doubt that things will change. Governments can offer a roadmap out of lockdown. They can set the stages for escape. Recovery doesn’t offer many milestones other than the days we stay sober. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Things change in small steps. Health and wellbeing begin to change. People will notice the change before the inner chaos has subsided. Peace comes in fleeting moments, as a taster of things to come. But sometimes it’s not enough to keep people going. The only thing that drives us forward is faith in hope. A belief that things HAVE to be better than they were.
It can seem futile. It can be frustrating and boring. Quitting drinking can seem like a mistake. Life can feel like the fun has been sucked from it. Sobriety can feel like a lockdown. But it is an opportunity to escape the cage of addiction. To be freed from the guilt and shame. Most situations have positives and negatives. Our perception can dictate what we see. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and sobriety makes you enviable. Gratitude is the key to maintaining hope.
Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.Jonas Salk
Things that we took for granted before the lockdown can now be cherished. A hug from a loved one. A coffee with a friend. A meal. All once normal parts of life. Now, they have been exposed for their importance to our human wellbeing. The winter months are a great reminder that if you are inside during the cold nights then things aren’t so bad. If you can eat then things are okay. Life could be worse. Yes, it could be better. And it can be. Hope is the driving force for change. It is the optimism that the road we are on will lead to positive change. It takes faith. It takes strength. It takes us to remember that when times are hard, we have to keep going. When sobriety seems a foolish decision, we have to remember where drinking can take us; the place where hope goes to die, addiction.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.Dale Carnegie
Sobriety is the restoration of hope. It is the crack in the curtains that allows the slither of light into our lives. It is the beginning of something extraordinary. We just have to believe in the process.
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