I have never met anyone who went into sobriety and found it magical overnight
You see, liking sobriety takes time. I believe what is so confusing to people who are trying to get sober, to their families, to the “normies,” is that for most people simply learning how to stay sober takes a while. Then, you have to figure out what you like in sobriety, then you have to make new friends, then you have to find a new social life, etc. etc. The idea that someone could give up a life of drinking or drug addiction and transform into a healthy, positive person in 30, 60, or even 90 days is misleading. The road can be long and have hurdles.
Drinking and using are the symptoms, but what’s the problem?
Yes, there are always those exceptions, the alcoholics who picked up a drink or drug and loved it from the first moment–no family history of alcoholism or trauma to take credit. However, most of us do have alcoholism in the family and have to recover from trauma. Then there are the mental health issues, and possibly other addictions to deal with once when we get sober. That stuff is hard and painful. Those things can take years. Maintaining sobriety is the fundamental basic that has to happen for one to recover from any of those issues.
So, what if you have someone who relapses for a decade? Like myself. How does all that other work get done? Very slowly. There are multiple issues being addressed while someone is dealing with the everyday battle of staying sober. This is a puzzle on top of a conundrum. I was led from program to program, to therapist to coach to mentors, all while learning to stay sober and sometimes through relapses. It took a while. But, it was so worth it.
If you focus and get help with what ails you, sobriety can give you everything
My travels haven’t been smooth–definitely filled with bumps, misstarts, and many restarts. Looking back, I’m surprised I hung in there through some things. Some spark of grit inside wanted to keep going and I always kept coming back. I came back in relapse, after relapse, in good times and bad. Even when you fall, all that matters is that you come back. The longer you stay sober, the longer you keep working at these things, the better you get. You have tools for recovery, you have tools for family dynamics, a new community is created, new sober besties are found, career issues get straightened out, sex and financial inventories are made. This is when life gets good. When the shame and the fear dissipate and a better version of yourself emerges.
It’s the inside and the outside stuff
The real trick is to heal the inside stuff and work for the outside stuff. Truly, the inside stuff is what will give you inner peace, serenity, forgiveness, good judgment, self-esteem, the ability to love and heal, and on and on. But, for me, some of the outside stuff has been proof of my hard work. It’s not what matters but it absolutely has made life easier. Being in debt was scary and getting my financial life stable was pretty critical to my recovery. My relationship with food today is healthy, that was another area I struggled with. To feel confident about the way I look and how I eat is another area of great comfort instead of anxiety. Romance, finance, body image–all these things have caused me distress. Today, they are areas of pride. That takes time too but again, so worth it. So frigging worth it.
If deep down you really want something, hold onto it
We all want things in life. Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s work-related, maybe you’re an artist like me and the need to create trumps most other things. Maybe you’d be really great at helping people and that purpose will make recovery worth it. Whatever it is, find those things that make you feel something and make them a part of your life as quickly as you can in sobriety. It helps to have things you care about as you find your way down the recovery road.
It gets so much better, I swear
Give yourself time. If you’d told me it would take a decade to have the life I wanted, I would have been discouraged. Who wouldn’t be? But, I had a lot of issues. Maybe you have fewer! But, it’s all still so worth it. I’ve learned so much and continue to all the time. I’m genuinely happy and grateful and want to pass it on so you know, it can all be OK someday. No matter what you went through, how you feel about yourself right now, what a struggle it’s been, you can get through it. And, you’ll be a warrior for your journey.
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