(Lindsay Lohan walked into Rehab reading my book “The Power of Rest,” and is scheduled to leave Rehab on October 22nd. This note is for her and others leaving inpatient addiction treatment.)
Leaving Rehab – What to Do When You’re Out
Once you leave the tough times start. You’re exiting the cocoon, the tight environment where everything gets controlled. You’ve gotten some monkeys off your back. But now you’re out, and the monkeys will return, and they keep coming back.
You need allies. Sometimes sharks will look like gorgeous, friendly fish, and real friends will appear so drab you don’t notice they’re there. But you’ll need all kinds of friends, or the monkeys will latch on and sew themselves into your hide – and keep cutting your skin.
Try to look for three things – structure, social support, and meaning. Put together in a system they can regenerate you, and help you shove the monkeys away.
Structure – find it in your body and the daily rhythm of life. Push physical activity as hard as you can. You don’t usually get real physical in rehab, and you want your body back. You’ll own it if you use it right, getting it to do what regenerates you. You want the natural highs only your body can give through sports, dance, and the intense pleasures of physical activity.
And do things to a schedule – including electronic communications. Your body is structured in time as sure as there’s night and day, right down to your DNA. Time sets the rhythm for everything in life. So set a time of day for eating, moving, sleeping, and your body will reward you, synchronizing to make everything work better.
Social support – AA, NA, family – you need this aid and support. You need people who believe in you, in what you will become, and who will help you when you’re down. No woman is an island. Figuring fish from sharks will not be easy – until proven otherwise, treat all new fish as sharks. Watch what people say, then what they do. If actions match words, communicate again.
When you go to meetings you’ll meet all kinds. With time you may talk, schedule coffee outings, do ordinary, necessary things together.
You need all types of support – friends, acquaintances, colleagues – all kinds of people, and if you can swing it, pets. We’re social animals. Drill down to see who really is on your side, then let them help you. Everybody needs some help. And you can support them, too. When they feel you’re doing something that aids them, it gives meaning to your life and theirs.
Meaning counts, even though now the word may sound empty, a note without music. Most people find meaning in love and work. We need people you trust and who trust you in turn. Work provides more than money. Work provides recognition, respect, and the capacity to remake oneself.
The Way of Rest can put all this together. Rest is the opposite of what people think – it’s how you rapidly regenerate body and mind. Think of the acorn. That acorn grows into a massive oak. Our bodies perform the same kinds of “miracle” all day – every day we’re alive. You see your hair and nails grow, but do you know how fast your brain regrows?
You want to harness that energy. You do that putting together physical, mental, social and spiritual rest. A simple way is to go FAR – eat, move, then actively rest, all through the day as a daily discipline, a structure that gets important things done.
Including your process of renewal. That’s what humans do. We regenerate – quickly. Much of your body is new in a couple of weeks – built from the ground up. You have the chance to remake yourself. Your body and brain recreate themselves so rapidly that you have an enormous opportunity to renew yourself.
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