Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, you will learn to form healthy habits and routines, develop coping strategies, let go of stagnant, negative relationships, open up to new passions and life purposes, embrace the love that surrounds you, and experience sober life as something to celebrate, not just endure. You will learn to self-sooth in the face of all of life’s obstacles, relying on your own inner strength and fortitude rather than on a substance, person, or damaging behavior. You will learn to ground yourself in the present moment, which is forever a source of sanity and reliability.
Each chapter in this book contains a story from my own life of addiction, as well as a case study from my practice involving one of these core principles. Using the combination of these two elements, I hope to offer an experience of identification and connection beyond the clinical. Identifying with others and their recovery experience is vital to moving out of isolation and into action. You may not see or hear yourself in every personal story, but you will surely find one or two behaviors or emotions that you can relate to. Try to find common ground in these tales, rather than dwelling on specifics that don’t match. Ask yourself, if you exchanged the addiction and perhaps the order of events, would you not recognize yourself just a tiny bit?
To aid in the exploration process, each chapter comes with a brief set of questions at the end. These are designed to help deepen your understanding of the principles and personalize them for use in your own recovery. What is the point of understanding something intellectually if you can’t understand it in terms of your own everyday, tactile experience? Answering these questions is also a good way to develop the habit of journaling. Journaling is like turning a spotlight on the unconscious. It brings to the surface many ideas, feelings, dreams, and regrets that we often didn’t know existed. It’s a type of archaeology in which we seek to uncover our authentic selves. Even if you hate writing, give it a shot; you can even jot down your thoughts in bullet points, if you prefer. However you do it, journaling shows a commitment to this process and to your long-term recovery.
To use this book to its full advantage, you will need to set aside time each day to read, write, and digest the concepts as you go along. This “me” time is non-negotiable. It is the chrysalis every addict needs in order to become a sober butterfly. You must fight for this time and space, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. It is the beginning of the authentic, healthy, happy, and whole new you.Rewired
is not just a self-help book. It is also somewhat of an autobiography. My path to a life of sobriety and authenticity began many years ago, when I was just 25. I was floundering in the deadly waters of alcohol addiction. I found myself spiritless, dangerously close to drowning in a sea of loneliness, desperation and depression. Addiction had deprived me of my interests, my dreams, and my desire to grow. It had stolen the very essence of my being. Instead of friends and lovers, wine had become my constant companion. Drinking made me feel safe and at ease; it helped me to function. I remember being up in bed at night, asking myself, “What happened to me? Where have I gone? What is this empty life I’m living?”
Things had reached the point where I couldn’t hold a conversation without getting shaky inside. I could no longer envision a future without alcohol in the picture. I imagined my wedding day; my handsome, charming groom before me, all my friends and relatives watching. Then came the dreaded moment... How would he ever get the ring on my finger without my hand shaking?
Everyone would see. Everyone would know I had a problem. But it went deeper than keeping up outward appearances. I wondered, for example, how I would ever be able to get through nine months of a pregnancy without drinking. I stayed up many nights, driven to despair by these thoughts. I realized that I had to either take charge of my life, or face a continuing downward spiral where the only outcome was death.
After months of soul searching, I decided to create my own recovery plan. Somehow I knew that the answers I was seeking were inside me. After all, I could remember a time when things had been different: even though I now felt lost, I could still hear a small, persistent voice inside that insisted on healing. I began writing down the basic core values and principles that I had abandoned while intoxicated. The plan was simple, yet comprehensive. It was based on cultivating a healthy mind, body, and spirit, and as I began to follow it each day, I sensed I was recovering on all levels. I found myself living on a new plane of consciousness. It felt miraculous and exciting, and I wanted nothing more than to share my discoveries with others. This led to the desire to become a counselor, and although I had already graduated with a degree in literature, I now sought out certification from UCLA as a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor.
Today, I use my experience to motivate and inspire clients from all walks of life at one of the most innovative and renowned drug and alcohol treatment centers in the world. I also work as a consultant, public speaker, and author. I lead workshops, appear as a guest on radio and television shows, and contribute to a variety of blogs and websites, all of which I do with a deep appreciation for my sobriety. I do not take my second chance at life for granted; it is a gift for which I show gratitude on a daily basis.
I have worked with hundreds of students, businessmen and businesswomen, married folks, single folks, retired folks, and many other types of people, all with varying degrees of trauma and different needs when it comes to recovery. Many of my clients have struggled to undo years of negative self-talk and bad habits formed in abusive environments. Many lack basic nurturing skills and the ability to express or tolerate emotions. But all have found a way to let go of their addictions and embrace a new lease on life after incorporating the 10 core principles and the process of rewiring.
Through this book, this same healing blueprint is made available to you. It is my great joy to be able to assist you in creating your own personalized recovery plan for mind, body, and spirit. As you travel this proven path, you will be freed of negative, unhealthy behaviors and discover peace, wholeness, beauty inside and out, and a genuine prosperity of spirit. Once you take the first step forward, nothing can stand in your way. Let the adventure begin!
—Excerpt from the Introduction by Erica Spiegelman
Copyright © 2015 by Hatherleigh Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.