All those feelings that you had kept masked underneath drugs or alcohol will come flooding to the surface. Especially for the first few months in recovery your feelings will be intensified, and it can often be scary. But the best thing to do is acknowledge them – and then let them go by engaging in activity. Allowing yourself to get lost in the rabbit hole of your thoughts can lead to relapse. When you are feeling intense negative feelings (this will happen a lot in early recovery) get active by calling your sponsor, going to the gym or taking a walk, meeting up with a friend for coffee – basically doing anything you can to get yourself ‘out of your head’.
While it is important to come to terms with your feelings, take it slowly. Positive thinking can go a long way when it comes to successfully staying sober in early recovery. Many people go into recovery feeling as though it is a jail sentence or some sort of punishment. It is important to remember the positive changes that recovery has brought or will bring to your life, and remind yourself of these things each and every day. It also helps to keep a gratitude journal, a gentle reminder to yourself of the things you can be grateful for each day.
It has been a long time since you allowed your feelings to come through so strongly on a regular basis, and it will take a while to get used to them! In order to be successful in addiction recovery, you must forgive yourself. This is very hard for some people, especially for those who were involved with dishonest or hurtful situations during their addiction. There are many alcoholics and addicts who were responsible for taking another person’s life through motor vehicle accidents or violent acts while under the influence.
No matter what you did when you were addicted, you need to forgive yourself. You need to understand that those actions were caused by your illness, and now that you are in recovery you are able to act as the person you truly are. Beating yourself up over the past will only lead to depression, anger and other negative feelings that will more than likely send you into a relapse.
No matter how much you think you are prepared to be successful in recovery, there will always be curveballs headed your way. One of the most important things that you can do is to surround yourself with an amazing support group – fellow recovering addicts, your sponsor, and family and friends who you trust to support you in your journey – and open the lines of communication. Reach out to your support network when times get tough, or when you feel scared, sad or anxious. Attend a meeting if you are feeling lost.