Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

What’s Going To Be Different?

This is by far one of the most powerful questions I’ve learned to ask myself in order to maintain healthy addiction recovery.

When I’m faced with a situation where I once would have picked up a drink, skipped a meal or put perfectionism before practical, I ask myself what I’m going to do differently.  In other words, I take the time to identify how I’m going to act, respond or react differently than I would have before.

I’ve had to walk myself through this question on several occasions like before attending a holiday party where there might be a good deal of drinking, or having to engage in a sensitive conversation with someone I love, or knowing what I’m about to do would be uncomfortable in some manner.  Each time I’ve said to myself, “OK Alison, what are you going to do differently this time so you’ll feel peaceful and not anxious?”  Once I know my answer, I move forward knowing I’ve allowed myself to breathe deeply and get calm.

However sometimes the situations aren’t as clearly defined.

For example, these past few weeks I have been battling bronchitis and all the other lovely side effects an all around awful cold so graciously provides.  In the past I would have charged ahead, believing if I just told myself I was fine, I’d be fine.  If I told myself the horrific cough and grueling body aches were minor and nothing dramatic, I wouldn’t need a shift in my daily routine.  Ah, but they always were and they are right now.

I’ve come to find my body has the amazing ability to tell me when I need to stop.  For decades I taught myself to disregard such warnings and am now learning to pay much closer attention to my physical messages.

This is why I started my day asking myself what’s going to be different.

The answer was simple.  I’m not charging ahead.  I’m not going to tell everyone that I’m fine.  I’m not going to get inside other people’s head worrying about inconveniencing them because of my decision to take a few days to mend.  I’m not going to fall back into that drive of appearing seamlessly perfect and run the risk of exposing my illness to someone else.  I cannot do that anymore.

What I can and will do is be honest with myself and others about what I need to do to heal completely.  This means rest whether or not I think I’m up to the tasks at hand. I’ve done that time and time again only to drag out whatever health issue was draining me from being my best self.

Different?  You bet.

So now I think I’ll make a cup of tea, curl up in an oversized blanket and get lost in a good book.


What are you doing differently today?  Are you finding ways to honor yourself by taking a different path?  Leave a reply below and share your experience.


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