When I first got sober, people would tell me I only had to change only one thing—EVERYTHING! This is an overwhelming thought, and I questioned if it was even possible. Being newly sober can be very confusing and complicated. Many of us have left a path of destruction during our time of addiction. These could include:
- Legal Problems – Many of us have legal problems in the beginning of sobriety. This alone is a heavy burden to someone who feels very raw and vulnerable at the onset of staying clean and sober.
- Money Issues – Most of us have little or no money left when we reach recovery and perhaps an immense amount of debt.
- Damaged Relationships – I don’t think I’ve met one person in recovery who didn’t have damaged relationships stemming from their addiction. Many of us have lost custody of our children and may be dealing with divorce.
- Unemployed – Many of us have lost our jobs due to our addictions. Having no income causes much anxiety and stress.
- Homelessness – This is an extremely stressful situation. I too was homeless for a period of time. It’s a horrible feeling. Every day is a struggle.
Handling these problems all at once will certainly set you up for failure. Keeping things simple is paramount. But how can I keep things simple when the problems I’ve having are so huge and all consuming?
Often we take on more than we can chew in the beginning. It’s important to understand these problems can take a long, long time to recover from. But don’t be discouraged! Every day you stay sober, little by little, you will start to see these problems getting just a little less day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year. One by one we start to tackle our issues.
Some suggestions for keeping things simple:
We have to slow down our thinking. Make a list of the major issues that you need to address and then relax your mind. We deal with one thing at a time.
Keep big problems from getting any bigger. Although you may have a big problem that can’t be solved overnight, be rest assured, staying sober will enable you to address the issue once and for all.
Legal problems must be faced immediately. We don’t have a choice on when to deal with these issues because it’s all mandated by the court. A great person that can help you with would be a sponsor or the house manager if you’re in a halfway house. When I was living in a halfway house, my house manager even went to court with me. She was so supportive and made the experience less stressful. I didn’t feel alone.
Finding a place to live should be the first issue to address. You have to get some sort of stability in your life. Having a place to live will ease your frustration and fears. I stayed in many different halfway houses. Halfway houses were the only place that would accept me without having a dime to my name. I had burned all my bridges with family and friends.
Secondly, find a job. After securing a place to live, let’s get employed and start generating an income so we can start to address our money issues.
Write a list of money owed. Tackle the smallest amount that is due and get those paid first. Bigger money problems will take time.
Start mending one relationship at a time. For me, it was my parents, especially my mother. Work on getting back your kids or mending a damaged marriage. Damaged relationships take a long time to heal. Some may heal right away and others could take years, if at all.
It’s important to reach out and ask for help. If you go to AA or NA meetings, there are allot of people in the rooms who are willing to help you get things organized and give you some great advice. Trying to tackle all these issues by yourself is too overwhelming. Having someone to lean on and give you advice will help you keep things simple so that you can focus on staying sober one day at a time.