Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sobriety + Silence + Stillness = Serenity

After a busy Holiday season with life's normal ups and downs, the kiddos are back in school today and my whole being is shouting for joy in the silence and stillness which surround me like a warm, cozy blanket on a snowy winter night.  My ears soak up the silence like a dry sponge does water.  I hear the hum of the refrigerator running and the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard and nothing more.  My body bathes in the stillness like sleeping newborn snuggled safe in his mother's arms.  Aaaahhhhhh..... :)


However, before I could enjoy such silence and stillness, I first had to achieve sobriety which is no easy task for an alcoholic like me.  I stopped drinking over six years ago and have been able to stay sober since then thanks to my Higher Power and a 12-step program.  For more about my story as it relates to getting and staying sober click here.


Once sober, I encountered something I never experienced before thanks to the mind-altering effects of alcohol - silence.  I remember during my first couple of years in sobriety when silence was torture for me.  It was like nails on a chalkboard, screeching, maddening.  I now know it wasn't the silence itself that that was so painful.  Rather, it was my thoughts and emotions surfacing into my consciousness, things I used to run from with alcohol.

In sobriety, I found that silence eliminated external distractions - from the television to the kids' loud mouths.  These distraction, although not as affective as alcohol once was, kept me unaware of what was going on inside of me (i.e., my thoughts and feelings.)

Eventually, I became comfortable with silence thanks to my Higher Power and a 12-step program.


Once I was able to tolerate silence, I had yet another battle to fight - stillness.  I couldn't sit still for more than a minute at a time, literally.  I was a ball of nervous energy feeling like I would explode if I was not up doing something, anything, from cleaning to exercising to yard work to cooking. 

I remember coming home from work (from a job where I was on my feet walking for eight hours straight) and frantically chopping fresh vegetables every night.  Carrots were my favorite.  The resistance of the knife's blade against the hardness of the carrot and the pressure needed to chop it felt so good in my hand.  With each chop and snapping sound an ounce of stress escaped from me.  I would chop and chop and chop.  Before recovery, I would drink and drink and drink.  I was making progress.

Eventually, I became comfortable with stillness thanks to a Higher Power and a 12-step program.


Today, I do not need noise in my environment to distract me nor constant physical activity on which to focus my attention.  Today, I can sit still in silence and experience serenity, a calm beautiful state of consciousness that is better than any high or drunk I have ever had.

Innately, I think we all know that internal chaos and serenity cannot co-exist inside of us.  I used alcohol and the distractions of noise and busyness in an attempt to expel my internal chaos.  Those solutions failed over and over again until I became hopeless. 

It was at this point that I became willing to try something different - sobriety and later down the road, silence and stillness.  All three of which I had no clue how to obtain.  That is until I worked the 12-steps.

Those of you who know what I am talking about - YEA!  Those of you who don't, have hope.  You too, can be rid of the internal chaos - painful thoughts and feelings - that cause you to use alcohol, drugs, food, sex, external noise, busyness, etc.  

If you are like I was at the end of my drinking career, using the aforementioned tactics over and over again (despite their repeated failure) to expel your inner chaos and pain, then you most likely feel hopeless. 

It was also at this point that I realized I no longer had the power to choose to drink or not drink.  My internal chaos, my addiction, my disease, chose for me.  I had to try something different or else I was going to die.  

Be still and know that I am God.

By working the 12-steps, my internal chaos was expelled from me eventually, not instantly.  Consequently, I was able to be silent and be still.  Once silent and still, I experienced a peace and calm like no other.  Did you catch the sequence of that? 
  1. Work the steps to expel internal chaos
  2. so that you can be silent and still
  3. and then you will know God.
For a great article on the scripture verse, "Be still and know that I am God," click here.

"Simple but not easy" they say in recovery because here is the kicker - I can't just do my sobriety + silence + stillness = serenity formula once and be done.  Why?  Because life continues to deal out its bad hands (to everyone, not just to me) which means I experience emotional and mental pain (internal chaos) again and again throughout my life.

However, unlike before when alcohol, noise, and busyness were my only solutions, I now have one that actually works and hasn't failed me yet, thanks to a Higher Power and a 12-step program.

This solution may work for you, too.  What do you have to lose in trying except that which is causing you to drink or use to begin with???

Would love to hear your thoughts on this...


  1. I need those things like stillness, serenity, silence in my life even though I am not an alcoholic. They help me with the quality of my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Thank you for sharing!