Sobriety can be scary, nerve-wracking, and unsettling. It’s been about seven years since I began questioning my relationship with alcohol and six years since I’ve been in recovery. Before I quit drinking and drugging, my life seemed like a morbid Groundhog Day that I was comfortable in. I was always waiting for it to begin and reliving the same stuff day after day, year after year – until I knew I had to change.
When I first considered getting sober, it was like walking through uncharted territory. Will I like myself sober? Will other people like me sober? What will my life look like? Upon my journey, I felt as if I’d been picked up and dropped back into a life that wasn’t my own. Everything was different, and I saw everything through a fresh perspective. The first couple weeks sober were the scariest of my entire life. I was looking change, uncertainty, and the unknown square in the face and the only place to run would be back to a bottle.
However through adversity, perseverance, and consistency, the confusions, hardships, and heartaches I suffered make complete sense in retrospect and have made me who I am today. For the first few months, I overthought and overreacted, trying to make up for lost time during the multiple years I was using. Once I learned these lessons, internalized them, and slowly made my way back to rationale, did my life get back on track.
While there are certain things I wish I had been told in early sobriety, they may have made me think of recovery in a more positive light, or saved me the suffering. Here are a few things I wish I knew when I got sober:
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
When I was using, “I’m fine,” was my go-to words when someone asked me how I was. Though, inside I was actually falling to pieces – covering it up with a drink or a drug. At the beginning of my sobriety, it took awhile to get out of that pattern and actually ask for help and verbalize my true feelings, leading me back to a relapse. Today and through the years, I’ve had hard days, bad days, and “poor me” days, but I always remember I have more grateful days that those combined. I’ve gone through breakups, lost close family members and friends, and have come to the embrace that sometimes I’m just not okay – and that’s okay, and I’m not a failure for it. Today, I feel what I feel and express it – no longer pretending to a person I’m not.
Sobriety is Hard Work – But You’re A Hard Worker
Nobody ever said that this would be easy. In early sobriety, I had to relearn everything – budgeting, job interviewing skills, how to interact with people, and even had to cut off some of my best friends. At times, I felt grief-stricken. Devastated that didn’t have my escape, I felt helpless and even confused at where to turn and what to do next. However, thinking back before sobriety, I remembered that I had been successful and worked hard at other avenues I ventured. I worked hard to sneak all that alcohol into work. I worked hard at meeting up with my drug dealer. I worked hard to sneak out to get my next fix. I was a hard worker, and if I channeled that energy into my sobriety, the possibilities were endless.
It’s Going To Get Easier – And Better
During my first few months of sobriety, I thought that my life was over and I wouldn’t be happy again. I thought that I was bound to live a miserable life and was hellbent that as soon as I showed that I was doing great on the outside to everyone else, I could go back to my ways. The only thing is – that didn’t happen. Time takes time. Weeks, months, and a finally year passed, and I found it easier each day to become comfortable with myself, have fun, live in the moment, and become the person I was meant to be.
One Mistake Doesn’t Make You A Failure – Or Mean You’re Going To Relapse
Like I mentioned before, for a longtime I felt that I had to make up for lost time and become a professional at sobriety. Of course there are the days where I would love to “let loose” and have a drink, but I know I can’t. There are the stressful days when I catch myself thinking, “what if I took just one?” Some days, I cancel plans with friends or let down someone I’m trying to help. During these times I catch myself beating myself up for just the though of a drink or a drug, or a thought of failing someone. Though, how often did I beat myself up when I was using to begin with? Part of being in recovery is to learn how to combat negative thoughts and feelings. While I still must watch myself, just because I have these thoughts or make mistakes doesn’t mean I’m a failure – or that I’m going to relapse.
Sobriety Opens Up More Doors Than You Can Imagine
When I first got sober, I thought I was going to be bound to my halfway house, shitty job, and on the city bus for years to come, but now I can look back at that and laugh. There are so many opportunities that being sober presents. Today, my life is so much fuller than it ever was when I was drinking. I’ve been able to backpack through other countries, work a dream job, and have the opportunity to go on the best adventures. Being fully present for life and being able to open myself up to the people in my life has provided so many opportunities for growth that I would have never had if I’d still been drinking.
Sobriety Leads To Meeting Unexpected People
I’ve met some pretty cool people through the past number of years because I got sober, and continue to meet the coolest people. Some of these include my best friends, my boyfriend, spiritual coach, and people who I can’t imagine living without. There’s always a bond present when I meet someone who is also sober. However, even if they aren’t sober, today, I am so footloose and free in my skin, that I can meet anybody and have a decent conversation without lowing my inhibitions and create bonds with people. Today, there are so many people in my life who have made sobriety worth it.
You’ll Be Embraced
For along time, I kept my addiction and even my recovery in secret because I was ashamed and embarrassed of what others would think about me – and by doing that I experienced a hinderance in my emotional and spiritual growth. Once I started telling people about my newfound sobriety, I was wrong. Most people in my life were proud of me, embraced me, and even a good friend confided in me that she, too, had struggled with addiction in the past.
You Won’t Regret Your Journey
Life has a funny way of falling into place if you just trust the process, and that’s the case when it comes to sobriety and recovery. Looking back when I got sober, I wondered what in the hell I was getting into. Today, I look back and see how many regrettable things I did in my addiction, but through sobriety, I don’t regret anything.