09 Jul You Light Up My Life – Finding Your Soul Mate In Recovery
Many who embrace recovery from addiction have changed their lives around to such an extent that the present and future seem a bit overwhelming and frightening. Some have lost loved ones as a result of their long-term addiction and are now looking at life without a partner to share it with. If you find yourself in this category, don’t despair. You can find the light of your life. It is possible for you to find your soul mate in recovery.
The Key Is Not To Look For Love
You may have heard the expression, “The more you look for love, the harder it is to find it.” There’s more than a grain of truth to the saying. When we are desperate to love and be loved, we exhibit a type of compulsive behavior that’s not unlike our former pursuit of our drugs of choice. If we’re hungry for love, we’ll do anything to find it – whether it’s for the first time or recapturing a love we’ve lost.
Compulsive seeking of love leads to all kinds of irrational behavior – none of which is conducive either to finding love or to remaining in sobriety.
Take a piece of advice from the experts who recommend you first learn how to love yourself. If you are at peace with who you are and are living life to the best of your ability, maximizing your strengths and being proactive in your recovery, you will become more attractive to others. It’s like a beacon that shines in the dark, drawing others to you.
Think of what attracts you to another. Is it the light in their eyes, the ready smile, their laughter, how they are composed in any situation, the comfortable way they make you feel? Whatever the attributes in others that you find most appealing, that’s what others are drawn to in a prospective mate (or partner) as well.
For some, it may be an opposite trait that attracts them. A person who is naturally shy may be attracted to someone who’s more outgoing. But it’s equally true that two booklovers (who may be shy) could be attracted to each other.
This just goes to prove that there are no real rules about where and how people find and fall in love with each other. The only thing that is almost universally certain is that you can’t force love. If you (or the other person) don’t feel it, no amount of telling yourself it’s there will make it so.
Work on Self-Improvement
If you can’t look for love and are supposed to learn how to be at peace with yourself, how do you get started? Recommendations here are to begin with things you can readily do to work on your own self-improvement.
Let’s say that you’ve always wanted to learn how to dance, but were either afraid you’d be no good at it, didn’t have the time or money, or had no one to be your partner. Now that you’re in recovery, what’s stopping you from pursuing your goal of feeling better about yourself by taking a class in dance? It doesn’t have to be dancing. It could be just about anything: woodworking, cross-country skiing, or cooking, painting, ceramics, or whatever. The point is that you won’t know how good you might be at something if you never give it a chance.
Take a class, enroll in school, go to hobbyist clubs, or join a group of others interested in the same type of activity.
What happens when you work on self-improvement? Everything you do that helps you gain more knowledge and experience adds to your level of self-esteem and self-confidence. When you add accomplishments to your repertoire, you’re fleshing out who you are with a greater depth. You’re no longer a one-dimensional individual. You have facets, little pieces of your character that are interesting to others.
Now that you’ve found something you like to do and do it regularly, you have more to talk about in casual conversation with someone new you may meet. You won’t be stuck with nothing to say. There’s always the nugget about this dance step or that fishing lure or the best downhill slope in the area to talk about with those who share your interests.
When you’re excited about your activities, you also have something to look forward to. Your facial expressions and body language will begin to change to reflect your happiness in what you’re doing. This increases your attractiveness to others. Everyone wants to be around people with a bounce in their step, light in their eyes, and a smile on their lips.
If nothing else, you’ll find yourself with many more new friends – any one of whom may turn out to be the light of your life, and perhaps even your soul mate in recovery.
Forget About Timetables
It’s a funny thing about timetables. While they work in recovery milestones, as in 30-, 60-, 90-day sobriety milestones, timetables don’t work when it comes to finding your soul mate in recovery. As previously mentioned, you can’t force love. The more you look for love, the less likely you are to ever find it. By the same token, you can’t give yourself an arbitrary deadline of six months to a year to find a partner, or that you have to be married by the time you reach a certain age or you’ll be doomed to living alone forever.
Life – and love – simply doesn’t work that way.
Looking at life from the perspective of recovery, does it count as a negative if you were drunk for many years and are only recently sober? Of course it isn’t a negative. On the contrary, the fact that you are now firmly in recovery – or new to recovery, for that matter – is the most important part of the equation. It isn’t when you get sober, but that fact that you are.
Now, look at finding your soul mate. Does it matter how young or old you are when you find love? Do you think when you’re at the end of your life and looking back on it that you’ll say you didn’t find your love early enough or that however many years you had with your soul mate made your relationship any less meaningful? Of course not. The beauty of love is that it’s so all-encompassing. Love fills you up, makes life worthwhile, and indeed, time passes quickly.
So, wipe any thought of a timetable for finding love from your mind. When love is ready, it will find you – and you will find love. Don’t be in a hurry to speed things up. You want love to be real, to find your soul mate in recovery. That takes time. And love works on its own schedule.
Strive to Feel Joy in Each Day
What you can do to help jumpstart your progress in recovery, your path to feeling whole and balanced in mind, body and spirit is to strive to find something joyous every day. Don’t worry that you don’t feel happy or have a hard time finding what joy is. Just start out small. Look at the sunrise, if you get up early enough – or set your clock so that you can awake and see this glorious manifestation of nature. Instead of allowing sunrise – or sunset, for that matter – to be a backdrop to your everyday existence, really take in its natural beauty.
That’s joy, and it’s easy enough to experience. All you have to do is look at it. Take a little time — say five minutes, to appreciate all the colors, their hues and intensity. Five minutes isn’t too much to ask from your busy schedule. When you take a breather, take time to allow your mind to drift, that’s when you can start to feel the wonder and awe that we call joy.
Some in recovery say they feel joy just being alive, having come so far from their past dark days of addiction. Others find joy playing with their children, helping them to read, ride a bicycle for the first time, plant a garden, or going to the beach to build sandcastles. Being around children, especially small children, helps us appreciate the small wonders in life. Toddlers, with their unending curiosity, take a veritable bite out of life. From the time they get up until they fall asleep, they’re busy learning and experiencing new things. We can all take a lesson from them.
Allow yourself the freedom to reflect on all that is wondrous and joyful around you. Make time to appreciate the little things in life. This will boost your morale, make you feel content in your present, and help add strength to your foundation of recovery.
And finding your soul mate will be that much closer because you are allowing the inner you to be expressed – in your smile, your lightness of step, your laughter and your joy.
Do Unto Others is a Good Motto
While we’re on the subject of finding joy, let’s touch on something that’s always in style. The Bible says, “Do unto others as ye would have done unto you” – or words to that effect. What this means is that we should treat everyone as we want to be treated. If we want others to be respectful, kind, generous, and loving, the only way this really works is if that’s what we display to them.
You can’t expect someone to reward you with a smile if you’re grumpy and miserable toward them, can you? But if you’re pleasant, warm, and considerate, guess what? Other people are much more likely to treat you in kind. Good begets good, and all that.
It isn’t just Christian religious belief that teaches us to treat others this way. This exhortation is part of all religious philosophy.
What if you feel like it’s pulling teeth to go out of your way to be kind to others? Get over it. The only way to break a cycle is to act in the manner you know delivers results. How do you know it? Other than it works, how about the fact that you’ve heard it enough times so that it must be true. At any rate, you’re not going to lose anything by calling yourself on your demeanor toward others and making a conscious effort to change to a more agreeable person.
Do unto others… and you’ll be amazed at the results. Suddenly, people that never before gave you a second look will be more likely to strike up a conversation with you. Sure, if you’ve been long known as a curmudgeon or sourpuss (okay, maybe even a drunk or a druggie) it may take some time for people’s attitudes toward you to change. But the fact is that they will change. Maybe some people who’ve been harmed by your past addictive behavior won’t become overly warm toward you, but at least you’ll have made the attempt to thaw the relationship.
The real blessing comes when you meet new people and start interacting with them displaying your new and improved attitude toward life. Make that your life in sobriety. Come on. What have you got to lose except some lonely days sitting at home feeling miserable about life? It’s certainly worth a try, isn’t it?
Go On, Get Out There
Now it’s important to mention that you need to be around people if you’re ever going to have an opportunity to come into contact with someone who may eventually turn out to be the love of your life – your soul mate in recovery.
Don’t know where to start? Well, how new are you to recovery? If you’re just beginning, chances are that you’re still feeling raw. Your emotions may be all over the place, not to mention the fact that your body is slowly coming to grips with what it feels like to be clean and sober. This takes some time. It also takes time for you to become more practiced and comfortable using your coping techniques, getting your foothold in recovery, strengthening your support network, and working the steps.
Recovery experts recommend – and it’s strongly recommended in all the 12-step groups – that you don’t enter into any new romantic relationship or make any major life changes (such as getting married or divorced) during the first year of your recovery. You need to be firmly grounded in sobriety before you venture down the path of any serious relationship. That’s if you want it to have any chance at success.
Certainly you may meet someone during the first year, even at 12-step groups, that you become more than a little fond of. That’s perfectly fine. Just keep it platonic. Friendship is the first stepping stone to love, anyway. Think about it. If you aren’t good friends, how can you ever be soul mates?
But back to getting out there and being with people — when you’ve had some time in recovery, start branching out and broadening your social sphere. You’ll find that there are new people to meet almost anywhere you go, whether it’s on campus, at the workplace, on vacation, even at the home improvement store or Costco.
If you want to meet people, you have to go where people are. It’s as simple as that. And, with all the things you’ve got going for you in your life in recovery, you have ample choices of places to go.
Take It Slow
The final piece of advice goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway. Once you find someone who lights up your life – and, hopefully, the feeling is mutual – the best thing you can do is to take it slow. Allow love to nurture and grow naturally. Don’t force it.
There is a saying that goes, “Love gets better with time” that’s appropriate here. You could take it to mean that love deepens with time, or that you need to take time for love to take hold.
Just as a seedling will drown if you pour too much water on it, if you shower your newfound potential soul mate with too much attention or go overboard in any way, you may just cause the budding relationship to die. Sticking with the same analogy, too little attention will also result in a disastrous end. Try for the happy medium.
This recommendation applies to both you and your potential soul mate. It’s great to get caught up in feelings of love and want to rush ahead with the relationship, but you want it to last. You want it to become permanent. You both have a lot to learn about each other. You both want to grow together, share joy and pain and whatever life brings. Be gentle. Be present. Be aware. Give more than you receive, and keep on giving.
When you discover your soul mate in recovery — and the feeling is mutual — your efforts will be abundantly rewarded.
Come to think of it, when you can say to your loved one, “You light up my life,” it’s more than just a Hallmark moment. It’s what life is all about.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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