The Recovery Writer

Championing Diversity Empowering Recovery And Inspiring change

Tag: recovery (Page 1 of 5)

The Comfort Zone And Why It Is An Illusion

It has been a while since I have ventured outside of my comfort zone. I have had to be very gentle with myself lately. The constant hypothyroidism fatigue has made it impossible to do anything else. However, since starting the higher dose of Levothyroxine, the fatigue fog has finally begun to lift. I had lots of anxiety-inducing events in my diary that I did not want to have to cancel, so it has been a relief to feel less tired. On beginning to feel better, I knew it was time to shift gear from simple living to catching an express train out of comfort zone town.

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Practicing Self-kindness

Self-care is to remember that your best is good enough

This is my first weekly self-care reflection, after deciding to move from daily to weekly posts. It is not the best of starts because it’s late! In the spirit of self-care,  am just going to forgive myself. I genuinely am doing the best I can at the moment and my best is good enough. I am enough.

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Suicide And The LGBTQ+ Community

Preventing Suicide In The LGBTQ Community 

I am unfortunately no stranger to suicide. I have a history of mental health problems, and I have made many attempts on my life. I am also both transgender and gay, which puts me in one of the highest at-risk communities for mental health issues and suicide. This means that over my lifetime, I have lost many friends to suicide and seen countless more attempt it. We need to address this now. 

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Anxiety And The Benefits of Doing Things That Scare You

How to overcome anxiety

“Do one thing every day that scares you”

This is a line from ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’ a spoken word song by Baz Luhrmann. In learning to live with anxiety,  that particular line has stuck with me and has become somewhat of a mantra

This is surprising really as it runs contrary to my old mantra of ‘Drink one bottle of wine a day and hide from your fears.’ I lie.

It was never only one bottle.

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Getting Creative – Day 119 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is spending time with your creative self

PicsArt_08-29-04.59.00.jpgCreativity allows us to express hidden parts of ourselves and connect with our inner self.  Most importantly, creativity reminds us how fabulous we human beings are, that we can create such amazing things from inside ourselves, and that life is full of fascinating creations.

I am a very creative person, I always have been, but for a long time, I forgot this. During my recovery,  no longer having my inner world dulled by the haze of drugs and alcohol, I have discovered this side of myself again.

My love of creativity is why it makes so much sense for me to move forward and turn my hobby of writing and making videos into a freelance writing career. For me, even on a severe mental health day, most of the time I can still write. That is because for me,  creativity is not work, its a self-care for my soul.

Creativity does not have to be perfect, the best part of creativity is that it is best when not perfect. It is at its finest when you just let go and let whats inside come out in whichever creative outlet you choose.

Buy some play-doh, doodle on a blank page, start a journal, or invest in an adult coloring book and make it a mission to spend time with yourself, letting your fascinating soul run free.

 

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The Freedom And Happiness Of A Sober Life

Header image aa 2.jpg

2. We Are Going To Know a New Freedom and a New Happiness

Today, I celebrate eight years sober and clean. It still amazes me that it has been that long. I remember, in my first few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, feeling a rising panic at the thought of a day without alcohol, never mind eight years. I also remember being scared of what my life would become, thinking that a life without alcohol would be dull.

This memory makes me smile now, for two reasons. The first reason is that my life back then was already dull. I was a physical and mental wreck, spending my days smoking weed, knocking back lager, and obsessing about running short of either of the two. Hardly a fulfilling life but rather a painful and depressing one. The second is because my life in sobriety is anything but dull. In these last eight years, I have explored and experienced more of myself and my life than I had in the 37 years previous.

Alcoholism is a cunning jailer; it convinced me that life outside its walls would be a life not worth living. It was not until I began to escape its clutches that I realized how captive I had been. The freedom I feel, in every aspect of my life, is the cornerstone of my happiness.

I am at such an exciting place in my life right now. Lots of things are coming to fruition all at once. I am at the end of the medical part of my gender transition. I have made sense of my sexuality and am in a committed relationship with a gorgeous man. I am at the start of launching a freelance writing career, and I have just had my first piece published. I have recently enrolled in my final module with the Open University, and this time next year I will be the proud owner of a degree. I have also been doing some media work with the Open University, as a student ambassador.

All of these things are anything but dull and only possible because I am sober. There is no way the drunk me could have had the enthusiasm or the ability to set up a small business, and  I would most certainly not have been asked to be an ambassador!

Recovery has given me the freedom to be me. It has given the freedom to pursue my dreams and the freedom to forgive myself and allow myself to love and be loved. The new happiness which comes from this freedom takes my breath away every single day. I am free now, one day at a time to live the exciting life that alcoholism hid from me for so many years.

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Freelance Writing – My First Published Story

 

First published storyIts been a while since I updated about my professional writing progress and as you can see by the title of this blog post, I have some rather fantastic news to share!

Firstly, let’s start with a catch up of what has been happening since I made the brave move to declare myself to be a writer, and took the first steps into a freelance writing career a few months ago.

Inspired by Jeff Goins’, “You are a writer, so start acting like one,” I set myself two commitments as my starting point. The first was to write every single day, whether that was a few sentences or a few pages. The second was to ‘practice in public,’ which meant getting my writing out there, to be read by others.

I am pleased to say I have stuck to these two commitments. I began a daily self-care series which made me commit to writing at least a  few sentences each day for that purpose (OK so I admit I’ve missed a day posting here and there and had to merge a few days or play catch up!). I have also regularly been sending out short stories and articles for consideration and applying for blogging positions.

I have had rejection after rejection, which I of course expected and knew would be part of the process, but it still took a lot of deep breaths and positive self-talk to remind myself of that.  Then, suddenly, an email arrived with the words,  ” We would be delighted to publish your piece!”

I cannot tell you the rush of emotions I went through when I received this email. I am not at all embarrassed to say I cried with pride!

The piece is a memoir style personal essay about my recovery and gender transition, and the publisher is Narratively magazine. For the past month, the editor and I have been going back and forth cutting and changing things. In being my first time working with a publisher in this way, I cannot say if this is a regular occurrence, I expect it is. I found this to be such a valuable experience, I am incredibly grateful for her patience and guidance, and I have learned so much in this process.

Last week we finished the final edit, and I then received an email to notify me of the date of publication, which is today! I am over the moon to share my very first published piece with you all. This has happened a such a significant and special time for me, as I complete the medical part of my gender transition and move into a new and exciting phase of my life.

If you enjoy the piece, please do share it along!

http://narrative.ly/i-didnt-know-i-was-trans-until-i-got-sober/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Is A Doing Word – Day 97 and 98 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is choosing to give our hearts to people who show their love for us in action and not just in words.

IMG_20180805_131339_882.jpgLove is such a powerful emotion, it’s hard to stay mindful with such strong feelings but the stronger the emotion, the more aware you must be.
I have a history of poor relationship choices. I was in such a poor emotional and mental state that I  often left myself open to being hurt and mistreated. In recovery, I have learned to be more discerning about who I open my heart and give my love too.
Love can be such an easy word to say, but without action it is meaningless. As the saying goes, ‘Love is a doing word.’ In assessing my connections with people now, I listen less to what they say and focus more on what they do. It is in peoples actions that you find their true feelings and intentions.
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Taking Action – Day 93 to 94 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge.

Self-care means knowing when to stop reflecting and start acting

IMG_20180801_191229_442Self-care is sometimes doing something self-soothing and protecting, and other times it’s pushing yourself to do something which, while scary, will benefit you in the end.
I have so many good news things happening in my life. With good things comes the risk of loss and the fear that brings up. My most significant and most scary new thing is my relationship. We have had some teething issues, which, while normal, are very new and frightening for me. I’m scared to get hurt, I’m afraid to risk giving my heart again.
My partner went back home for his birthday, and I decided it was best for us to have some time apart so we could have some space and  I could have some thinking time.
Soon after he left, I realized that while reflecting on the things that scare me is helpful, the only way to overcome that fear is by taking action and facing whatever it is.
On that note, l took a deep breath and jumped on a train to surprise him in his hometown. His face on seeing me told me all I needed to know.
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Managing Conflict – Day 92 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is reminding ourselves that disagreements between people are healthy and normal

self care instaMy most recent self-care posts have mainly been within the theme of having the courage to voice our needs, despite the fear of upsetting others. I think this is coming up for me a lot at the moment, due to my being in a new relationship.

I have become much better practiced at asserting my needs over recent years. However, relationships are highly emotionally charged, especially for those of us in recovery. In these situations, especially new relationship beginnings, it’s not uncommon for old ‘defects of character’ to attempt to rear their ugly head.

Although I do not fall apart in the way I once did when these things come up, they are still very painful. Because my feelings are so strong for this new man in my life, there is, of course, the fear of losing him. This is why, when I practice what I’ve learned over my years in recovery and voice my needs and feelings honestly, I find my old thought patterns lurking in the sidelines. Fear tells me that the disagreement will mean the end of us, that now I’ve said how I feel things are ruined etc.

It is taking a lot of effort to not join in the dialogue with this inner voice, but whenever I refuse to engage it, it gets quieter. Sitting with the painful feelings is a healing process in itself, especially when I see the proof after having a disagreement, that not only are myself and my partner still OK but also that we are stronger for a mini disagreement.

 

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Overwriting Bad Memories – Day 85 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is healing from bad memories by making new positive ones

make new memoriesI’m sad to be heading home from Truck festival today. I never like leaving but this one has been particularly special and particularly hard to leave.

It never ceases to amaze me how life presents you with just what you need at just the right time, even when you didn’t realize what you needed! I almost didn’t attend this festival, having surgery canceled meant I could attend after all and it turns out I really needed this time here. I’ve been reminded of something I learned early on in recovery from a friend in the AA fellowship. That is to rewrite your bad times by revisiting old places and making new positive memories.

I had forgotten how healing doing this is. I thought I had done all the healing I needed from my previous relationship, which ended over two years ago now. However, being here has shown me that I still had some things to let go of. Truck festival has always been special to me, I’ve attended it since its 10th year, and it was also the first festival I returned to sober and clean. To come back, to spend time with friends here, to laugh, to dance, has allowed me to reclaim this space as mine.

When we can return to a place from the past and imprint new, positive memories, it is such a powerful catalyst for healing and forward growth.

 

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The Truth Shall Set You Free – Day 76 – 79 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is remembering that telling lies to other people , is the same as lying to ourselves

Picture_20180717_110647853.jpgBefore recovery, l was pretty much incapable of being honest. I lied to others and to myself about my drinking and using. I also avoided telling truths to people, for fear of u losing them.

In recovery, l learned the phrase “To thine own self be true”. Applying this to my life allowed me to be honest with myself about all my defects of character which in turn helped me to become, and stay, clean and sober.

Where l still have difficulty applying honesty, is when doing so risks upsetting others. I have to always remind myself that staying true to myself means also being honest with others. If l am not, then l am effectively lying to myself.

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