Two years of sobriety: What I know now that I wish I had known then
Today, I’m celebrating my second sobrie-versary, and it just keeps getting better.
Year one was rough, to say the least. Work difficulties, relationship difficulties, big life changes all occurred just as I was struggling to maintain a newly serene and stable life.
Now, as I round the corner on year two, I’d like to share a few thoughts with ya that I wish I’d had when I started out.
1. Alcoholism may or may not be a disease, but sobriety is a choice.
Minute by minute, I’ve had to make the choice of whether or not to drink or use. Sometimes, I would be so upset or insecure that I could only make that choice for the next five minutes. As in, “Today sucks, life sucks, but I’m going to hold off on drinking/using for the next five minutes.”
Very slowly, that became an easier decision to make, and I didn’t have to make it as consciously as often. But even now — and I imagine for a long time to come — there will still be that choice in that moment when I have to decide.
And I will always, always decide to preserve my sobriety.
2. Not everyone will understand or support your choice.
The people who know me best are glad and relieved I made my choice to remain sober. Recently, over dinner with an ex-girlfriend, I learned that she had wondered when she’d be getting that middle-of-the-night call and learn that I had finally kicked the bucket under tragic circumstances. She, along with my family and my best and closest friends, are happy that I no longer give them such cause for concern.
However, not everyone has been so respectful. There are the “come on, just one drink” people, and the “yeah, but you’re not an alcoholic now, right?” people, the people who thought I could get the hang of moderation if I just tried a little harder. Those people have made my journey just a bit more difficult, because yes, I wish I was capable of enjoying myself in moderation, too.
With those who don’t understand or respect my choice, I have to be patient, and I also have to remember that not everyone has the hands-on experience with alcoholism that lends the necessary gravitas to the conversation.
3. Recovery is a gift that keeps giving.
Living in cycles of self-abuse and addiction was a harrowing experience. On the other side of that, though, I see it as a gift. A hard-won, unique gift.
When others who are still struggling with addiction (and all the drama that comes along with it) approach me with questions, I can give them real and honest answers. As much as the normal person might want to help or offer hope, there’s only so much you can say or do when you don’t have the ugly experience that alcoholism or addiction confers.
It’s not a distinction, and it’s not an honor, but I do feel blessed that I can reach out to, respond to, and actually help people in need.
That’s really the only reason I write posts like these: Not because I’m soooo proud of myself or because I want to “show off” my damage. I want you, dear reader, to know that your drinking or drug problem doesn’t have to hold you back forever. You can start making those little choices, and you can break your own cycles. And when you do, I swear to God, your life will change in the most beautiful, gratifying, and mind-blowing ways. I am living proof of that; these aren’t just hollow words. And for me, that proof is the best thing about recovery.
4. Your life will change forever and for better.
Two years ago, I was overweight, barely hanging onto my job, running very low on genuine friends, and in a dead-end relationship.
And it wasn’t just my circumstances: It was me. I was angry, bitter, depressed, and pretty near hopeless. My self-esteem had dwindled dangerously low, and my self-preservation skills were nonexistent.
Today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m in great physical shape, I have a small group of trustworthy true friends, I freaking love my job (and they mostly tell me I’m doing great at it), I’m in the best relationship of my life, and overall, I am amazed at how much my quality of life has improved.
No kidding: I look around just about every day and think, “Really? All this is mine? I get to live this life?.” I’m lucky, no doubt, but I also know I wouldn’t have this if I had continued to drink and use.
Questions? Go ahead; ask me anything.
If you are struggling, know someone who is, or have any questions about addiction, I’m happy to chat with you. I’m not a counselor, and I don’t have any professional experience in coaching people out of addiction, but I can give you some honesty and some encouragement if you need it.
Hit me up on Formspring, where you can ask me anything you want anonymously.
I wish you a full and fulfilling life overflowing with happiness, blessings, and love for yourself and everyone around you.