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How I Rediscovered Creativity Through Sobriety

This post was provided by a former Hickory Wind Ranch resident, Shane M.

After a quick run to my local hobby store, I pulled out charcoal and a large pad of drawing paper.  “Just start! Just go for it.  Let it come out. ” My mind repeated these words over and over in my head. I put the charcoal to the paper and began to draw.  What eventually showed up on the simple white, blank sheet of paper blew my mind.

Before I moved into Hickory Wind Ranch Sober Living Community, the owner, Polly Parsons, said that it was an environment that “promoted creativity”. “ Yeah, right,” I thought to myself. “ I lost my creativity years ago.  She is crazy if she thinks that I will be able to have some sort of miraculous change in my mind and all of a sudden the flood gates will release my artistic ability.”

(That sounds a little dramatic, but I was an addict at the time.)

It had been years since I had put medium to a piece of paper. While in college, I minored in art and did a little writing here and there – starting journals and never even completing them.  It wasn’t exactly brain science, but I remember the sense of serenity that it had brought me, and the freedom and pure joy I felt when I was creating something.

But that was several years ago., and I had so much hesitation built up inside me.  I had been filling myself down to the crevices of my soul with alcohol and drugs, masking anything and everything, not daring to let things out.  I had been lying, cheating others and myself, existing in an overall gloomy and shameful environment I had created.  “Could I feel that sense of peace again?” I wondered.

There is a common misconception among addicts that over time they lose their sense of creativity for good.  We all have different levels in our abilities. We all have inventiveness about us, whether it is writing, drawing, painting, music, or many of the other outlets. For addicts in recovery, being imaginative may be a little more difficult after the damage we’ve done to our bodies and brains through the use of drugs and alcohol.  But, the imaginative ability is there and it has NOT gone away.  It just needs to be nourished.

There is so much change going on as we begin our new lives in sobriety.  We are learning who we are all over again.  Spending time with new friends, in new places, doing new and old things that we haven’t done in many years.  Every day we are expanding our cognitive capacity to enjoy life and our new freedoms.  We are coming out of the fog that trapped us in a dark hole for many years. Every day, we become clearer and clearer and our physical state becomes healthier.  The healing process is in full force, both physically and emotionally.

Creativity is by no means the solution to all of our problems, but it is an energy force that can help your mind in the healing process.  It may even bring some issues to surface before you even realize it.

For me , creativity allowed me to be honest with myself, to let things out that I didn’t even know I was holding back. As they slowly and sometimes quickly poured out of me, I was able to come to terms with them, accept them, and move forward.  Sometimes I would write. Sometimes I would draw. Sometimes I would meditate..

Being imaginative, helped me realize the endless possibilities that this new life holds for me.  I could get creative in my ideas, but I came to find that they are way beyond anything I could have imagined before. I have gained confidence, hope, and overall, happiness from this release.  Working the twelve steps with a sponsor, being close to my higher power, and helping others are the most important things in my sobriety, but healing and forgiveness comes along with them. This is what creativity encourages for me.

Today I feel so free. Free from my hesitations, from judgments, and free to let my heart glow from the joy of my imaginative and artistic productions. I am creating my own beauty. I don’t have to be loaded to pull myself away from the darkness.

Sit in a quiet place where you can be alone so you will not have any judgments or distractions. Maybe turn some music on for inspiration.  This is just for you and no one else. Put a pencil to a piece of paper and see where it takes you.  If you want a real challenge, promise your self not to erase anything.  Just feel free, free to let go, free to create whatever your mind can imagine.

“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

~Joseph Campbell