2015 was the worst year of my life. Just three days into the new year, I awoke to find my husband of 27 years had passed in his sleep. He was only 51 years old.
I had battled for eight years to take care of him and myself, since we both had a long list of health issues. Fibromyalgia, heart disease, and digestive disease had kept me out of the work force for 15 years. His disability payments were our sole source of support, and there was no life insurance, because he said we couldn’t afford it.
I was left with nothing.
As family and friends came by to offer their condolences, one of them brought me some weed, and 11 years of sobriety went right down the drain.
A few months later, my family doctor ordered a routine drug screen, and I failed, so he discontinued my pain medication. Not long after that, I was denied my widow’s pension benefits. I filed an appeal and was told that because I was under the age of 60, I had to prove my own disability in order to qualify. This meant waiting several years for benefits.
I was really down in the dirt, and my friend kept me supplied, so I had a direct pipeline to all the pot I wanted, which soon became a need.
Fortunately, my family became concerned enough to stage an intervention and get me in touch with a sober life coach. She enrolled me in a 30-day detox program and was there waiting for me when I got out.
She taught me many skills to avoid falling off the wagon again, especially when life gets hard. These are some that have worked for me:
This was the first coping mechanism I was taught and the first one I utilize when I get stressed. It means hungry, angry, lonely, tired. It is a good way to slow things down and figure out what is going on with me before I feel compelled to numb the pain.
2. Keep a Journal
After I HALT and begin to assemble my thoughts, I write them down to help me sort through them. Not only do I see things more clearly, but I find it therapeutic to get it out of my system and on paper.
3. Get Moving
After purging my thoughts by journaling, I find that getting some exercise helps release the stress and the physical effects it causes. I usually take a walk.
4. Get Outside your Head
There is a senior center in my neighborhood that always welcomes volunteers. Spending time there allows me to focus on others instead of myself, and feel good about myself for doing it.
5. Slow Down
I can’t meet any of my responsibilities if I don’t take care of myself. I take a power nap or a long soak in a hot tub whenever I find myself overwhelmed. Sometimes, I will treat myself to a manicure or a pedicure.
6. Call your Therapist
I’ve got mine on speed dial in case of emergency, and I’ve made those emergency calls quite a few times. She helps me to remember all that I have accomplished since regaining my sobriety. And sometimes she helps me figure out things I can’t determine on my own.
At some point in our recovery, we all feel broken by the pain. Without the proper tools to deal with that, relapse is just around the corner. By using these six strategies above, we can turn that corner without falling into the relapse trap.
Lighthouse Treatment Center offers a comfortable social model detox environment in a home-like setting. Our Ambulatory Detox facility is located on our Residential Campus in Anaheim, California, near Disneyland and just a short drive from the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful Orange County beaches. Please call us at Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.