The last few years of my sobriety have been anxiety-ridden, to say the least. From leaving an abusive relationship, moving to Palm Beach County, surviving a global pandemic, single motherhood, all the way to preparing my heart and my household for my son to start middle school this fall. These seemingly “normal” ebbs and flows of life can be seemingly insurmountable for an alcoholic like myself who is not spiritually centered.
Oftentimes, we hear old-timers suggest that if we are full of faith, then we experience the absence of fear. While this is very true, the question I posed to my own sponsor was “HOW?!”. I was able to wrap my brain around the concept that I needed to be spiritually centered to have peace, but I did not know how to achieve this state of being. Slowly but surely, I began taking her suggestions, and I started doing the things my sponsor does. Over time, I no longer am surprised when I am feeling anxious, but instead, I am fully aware of how I need to tap into my spiritual habits and relationship in order to calm my anxiety.
Spirituality Cultivates Healing.
For most of us in recovery, it would be fair to say that healing from drug and alcohol addiction is a challenging process. Not only did I have an extensive track record of underlying anxiety and depression, but I also had my fair share of walking through traumatic situations. Reviewing the evidence at hand, anxiety was second nature. Unhealed trauma and the remnants of our addictions can leave us feeling overwhelmed and undoubtedly anxious. Spirituality has been the only effective remedy to cultivate healing and ultimately calm my anxious, wandering mind.
From my experience, establishing a spiritual connection with a power greater than myself introduced the concepts of grace and gratitude. As a result, I was no longer held captive by guilt, shame, and anxiety. Instead, I was challenged to practice forgiveness, gratitude, and connection with the world around me. These spiritual components continue to cultivate a deep sense of peace as I begin to let go of the past and heal the things that continued to plague my thoughts and breed anxiety.
Spirituality gives hope to the hopeless.
I don’t know about you, but long into the woes of my addiction – I was absolutely hopeless. I had dug myself a hole so deep that I genuinely believed I was never going to recover. This was a theme that followed me for an extended period of time – even into my recovery. Whether it was drugs and alcohol or my own mind, I didn’t think I would have what it takes to live a happy or prosperous life without drugs and alcohol. My journey to establishing a spiritual connection changed everything.
Coming to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity is the most hopeful step we can take. The hope and faith in something good, something much bigger than ourselves, is what calms our messy heads. I needed an expectation that upon getting sober, my life would get better. Over the years, this has become a less complex concept, but practicing acceptance has become a daily occurrence. I have found that I am the calmest when I accept everything that it is, and I have faith that God has my back, and nothing happens in His world by mistake.
Spirituality replaces anxious tendencies with positive attitudes and behaviors.
When I start my mornings and skip over my intentional meditation, there is a distinct difference to be noted in how my day plays out versus the days I pray and meditate upon awakening. I’ve often heard other people mention the importance of meditation, but I never truly understood a noticeable difference until I began dipping my toes into the realm of adding spiritual practices into my everyday life. Prayer and meditation combat our knee-jerk reactions and replace our impulsivity with the ability to pause, reflect, and ultimately respond in a calm manner.
I am Italian, high-strung, loud, and passionate reactions resonate throughout my DNA. There was no overnight remedy to change these ancestral patterns. Instead, I began taking time in the morning and the evenings to set my intentions for the day and to reflect on my actions throughout the day. Leaning into the quiet parts of myself eventually permitted me not to do anything when I feel anxious. I have learned that it is unhealthy to make haste decisions when I’m feeling anxious. More often than not, the actions that follow anxious emotions are trauma responses and rarely positive decisions or responses. Asking God for help and trusting that He will give me the right answers has shifted not only my attitude but my behaviors as well.
Spirituality changes our perception and breeds gratitude.
I was a “victim of circumstance” by all accounts for most of my life. I viewed the world as a cold, ugly place, and I put myself in the position to be a victim time and time again. I was hardly grateful, and I truly believed that everyone was out to get me. The most significant disconnect between my perception and reality was my own fearful, anxious mind. I was the only victim of a life void of a spiritual connection. This realization continues to salvage my self-defeating habits time and time again.
Once I established my own unique connection with a Power greater than myself – I began to see obstacles and challenges as an opportunity for growth and evolution. The idea that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, spoke way louder than the old self-pity, “woe is me” narrative that ruled my thoughts for many years. The more I practiced acceptance and stopped fighting everyone and everything, the more peaceful my life became. My spiritual connection with my Higher Power led me to view life from an entirely new set of lenses. My perception had completely shifted, and I found myself more grateful and less anxious about what tomorrow may bring. Tapping into my spirituality has cultivated a deeper sense of gratitude and the ability to view every tribulation as an opportunity to grow.