A clean and sober lifestyle does not consist merely of staying off drugs and alcohol. It is the journey and metamorphosis from the person you were, into the person you are now, and the person you will become down the road. It is the new mindset that will provide you with the strength you need in order to stay clean, the discipline required to stay on the right path, and the character values that reinforce your self esteem and make you feel good about your new way of living.
I have found character values that came to me in time through choosing higher personal standards. Many people have them already, but I did not. Over time I had become unreliable, untrustworthy, and not a very good person. By holding myself to a higher standard of ethics and morality, it has allowed me to discover character values like integrity, being truthful (except where it would be hurtful), respect (for myself and for others), giving back to the community in which I live, being responsible and taking care of the things that need to be taken care of. All of these are things that meant very little to me when I was living in my addiction, but mean a great deal to me now. Along with a desire to make up for the wrongs I have done in my life, they are the fuel that feeds the fire of my existence and motivate me to go further, and to do better then before.
A big part of my life was always about trying to control everything and everyone. It’s just not possible, and I believe that is where the well intentioned, but incorrect ”powerlessness” comes from in 12-step programs. To give up power is to give up responsibility and ownership. It’s like saying “oh well, the bridge fell down, It must be gods will.” Bullshit, the bridge fell because someone didn’t pay the maintenance fees to keep the bridge in a good state of repair, and it collapsed. We are not powerless!
I truly believe that the constant reinforcement of powerlessness could be harmful to some people in recovery. To have that driven into you over and over when you are already in a weakened state from drug and/ or alcohol abuse causes the wrong type of surrender within yourself. I feel that in time some people could come to believe that they are truly powerless, about everything, and that is just not acceptable!
By using the principles that I follow, it allows me to keep my power and stay strong! I can accept responsibility for my errors, own them, and then move on.
Now, along with that I also hold myself to a much higher moral and ethical standard then I ever did when I was using. I feel that a big part of my success has been due to the fact that I avoid many of the ”little wrongs” that we do in our day-to-day lives. By “little wrongs” I mean the things that you will do daily to survive and keep yourself in dope when you are an addict. Dishonesty or being manipulative, to name a couple. Those types of behaviors just don’t fit into a clean and sober lifestyle. If you want to enjoy living clean, you will have to put all of that negative stuff behind you and move forward while building the new you.