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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

02-10-15 | By

How My Notebook Helps Keep Me Sober (And How Yours Can Too)

journaling and sobriety

Becoming a writer has always been my greatest aspiration.

When I am in an airport, I always go to the book store and check out the new authors. I stare at the newest titles and imagine my name on the shelf. I imagine what the cover of my book will look like, I envision standing there after years of writing and marveling at my work on some obscure book shelf. Everyone has a dream. More than anything, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

I would love to tell you I got my passion for writing from some profound inspiring experience, but I didn’t. I love to read, but I never idolized famous authors. I never had a love affair with literature. In reality, I read more non fiction than I do fiction. The truth is my writing has always filled a need for me. Writing fulfills my human need for self expression and is set forth by my inability to communicate. I think my troubles communicating played a role in why I used drugs and alcohol so much.

It started as a kid. I would wake up early in the cold winter mornings and sit by the heater vent in my room. I would curl up in a blanket and scribble poems and essays in a notebook I would carry around with my everywhere. Till this day, I rarely leave the house without my notebook in my bag. I learned early on that notebooks just listen. They don’t tell me their opinion, they don’t bitch at me or tell me what I should do. They just listen… the blank page has always been there for me.

Journaling in Sobriety

I’ve never been able to communicate properly. Maybe it’s because I’m insecure. If I am expressing my emotions, I get choked up. I always have.

Once I started writing I was finally able to articulate all the things I wanted to say but never could.

Now I could go on and on about my experience, but how does all of this relate to sobriety? The fact is that aside from my sponsor, my notebooks have been my greatest supporters in my recovery.

Journaling allows for me to be completely honest with myself We all have have secrets, insecurities, regrets and ill feelings that we keep to ourselves. We bottle these feelings deep down. If there is one thing I have learned about feelings over the years, it is that one way or another, they always find there way out.

Daily writing allows me to express the ugly parts of me, so that they don’t crawl out at the wrong time or explode all at once. If I am sad, if I am embarrassed, if I think someone is being an asshole, I can express it in a healthy manner within the pages of my notebook. I can get all of the ugliness out of my system, reflect upon it, and move past it.

Nothing gets in the way of my serenity like an ugly emotion that I haven’t gotten past. My notebooks help me with this immensely.

Keeping Your Head in Order

journaling and mental health

Journaling also has practical elements to it.

This is a reason why the 10th step in 12 step fellowships is so important. We must always be willing to self reflect, to review our actions for the day and see how we can do better tomorrow. I have been doing a 10th step since before I knew what a 10th step was. However, in my recovery, I make it a point to also remind myself of good things that I have done. Yes… there is always room for improvement, but I make sure I remind myself of accomplishments as well as shortcomings. I have a tendency to be hard on myself so this is important for me so that I don’t beat myself up.

Almost every night, I take a few minutes to plan out the next day. I find that keeping my days organized helps me stay focused. When I am without focus, and without direction, I find a waste a lot of energy moving around and I get very frustrated. When I go too long without planning out my days, eventually I find myself screaming at other people in traffic. Dealing with anxiety, even in recovery, is an important coping skill to learn.

I have found that planning my days and listing out my priorities every night directly translates to my effectiveness and my happiness. I think this is a good habit for everyone, even those who aren’t in recovery.

Escaping from Reality – A Form Of Meditation

When I am writing, I am not thinking about anything else. I love this feeling. Sometimes I can really get in the zone and allow the words to flow through me and onto the paper. I forget about bills and work and relationships. I am just focused on the present.

I find this to be extremely important in my recovery. I believe that fear is rooted either from the future or the past. If we are living in fear, we are not in the present moment. Generally speaking if we are fearful it is because we are caught up about something that already happened, or we are worried about something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Anytime I can get present and be in the moment, my anxiety level drops. Sometimes if I pop my headphones in and put pen to page, an hour can go by and I wont even notice. I think that’s the best feeling.

It Can Work For You Too

You don’t have to be an aspiring author to incorporate writing into your life. Writing is crucial for my sobriety and my emotional well being. It helps me and I know it can help you too!

If you want to give it a shot here is what I suggest. Go buy a cheap notebook and a pen that you like. Start bringing this notebook around with you and do some free association writing.

Go sit at a coffee shop and just write whatever comes to mind. Do some people watching and jot down anything that sparks your interest. Write down your ideas, your fears, your feelings. Write whatever the hell you want!

If you give it some time, hopefully you will learn for yourself how writing can benefit you and your recovery.

To the blank page 🙂

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