By Ken Wells - 09/24/2021


Series Two; Blog Sixty-Seven

I have poured my heart out ….

And now I am empty.”

― Ranata Suzuki

Recovery can be a precarious path. Dreams are dashed. Failure is encountered. Discouragement moves in like morning fog and dampens optimism. The every-day demand of a recovery program has a way of draining energy, vision, and hope. This experience is inevitable for those who brave sobriety and seek serenity. Recovery life is a mixture of peaks and valleys, success and defeat. It is a tapestry of good experience woven with heartache. The journey leaves one feeling empty along the way.

Sometimes addicts expect too much from sobriety. The anticipation of living free of addictive behavior can be so high that when it is achieved there is a letdown. The truth of daily struggle reminds the addict why they numb out in the first place. Sober living can be painful. Facing reality can be overwhelming. The exchange of healthy responsible behavior for addict-escape is stressful. There is a letdown and a feeling of emptiness. As an addict, how do I address the every-day emptiness? Here are a few realizations and suggestions to consider.

  1. Most of life is not spectacular. Learn to accept plain and ordinary daily living. This is the environment in which personal brilliance is mined. The neuropathway of an addict’s mind is programmed to look for thrills. There is an ongoing search for the sensational in life. When addicts realize there is no magic cure, emptiness invades their emotional reality. Addressing this requires that addicts embrace the everyday reality of common-place experience. Accepting unspectacular moments of responsible living demands that addicts surrender to expected unimpressive life experience. Kids get sick. Work environments are less than ideal. People struggle to make ends meet financially. Personal health deteriorates. There are a host of other challenges that you will face every day. When you can embrace the plain places of living, you position yourself to make meaningfulness out of uninspired moments in life. Ordinary life experience is the terrain in which personal brilliance is cultivated.
  2. Sit with the feeling of emptiness and listen to the message that the universe is trying to reveal. The feeling of emptiness can be scary. The first response is to avoid. However, when you listen to emptiness, it will tell you what is missing in your life. Embracing the moment of emptiness will help you be present. It will tell you what to let go of and how to do so. It will help you focus on being true to your heart. Sitting with emptiness will tell you how to reconstruct life balance. Try it and write down the insights emptiness has to share!
  3. Adopt a blue-collar mentality. You are both fragile and tough as nails. The fragile part beckons you to long for a quick fix or magic cure that will fill the emptiness with something spectacular such as astounding achievement. Your monkey brain will think about anything other than embracing the present moment of emptiness. A blue-collar mentality suggests rolling up your recovery sleeves and leaning into the necessary work of addressing emotional discomfort. This mentality will help you make meaningfulness from commonplace recovery experiences.
  4. Emptiness will point to the need to grieve. Grieving is a reality that most are poorly equipped to embrace. As a result, most people miss significant moments to grieve. Listen for the nostalgia that is often present with the experience of emptiness. Sentimental recollections are signals that you are grieving the loss of experience or relationships in moments of life. Take time to embrace the sadness. Honor yourself in your emptiness to say goodbye to what you must let go in order to say hello to the here and now. Slow your life down to honor efforts made in recovery, people who were helpful and experiences that can no longer be, that you must relinquish.
  5. Celebrate the sacred in the midst of emptiness. As you pass through this life, every relationship is sacred and transitory. People come into your life to walk alongside, only to leave and allow you to walk alone and walk with others. Treasure those who walk beside you. Emptiness is an emotional crossroads designed for you to reflect and celebrate those who have walked with you in common place experiences. It is an opportunity to transform meaningfulness from the mundane and allow your personal brilliance to radiate with those who have walked with you in your recovery journey.

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