If you’re in your first year alcohol-free and struggling with general discontent. If you’re romanticizing the ‘good old days’ of drinking don’t give up. Keep moving forward. I’ll be a year sober tomorrow but I remember exactly how hard it can be. Maybe my story will help.
Months 6-9 were brutal for me. I found myself unfulfilled, despondent, fearful, lost, resentful, lonely. I was neck-deep in the parts of my past that kept me hurting and small. I was always wanting to numb out.
I had to sit in that pain. Just sit, not act. I had to write, cry, not sleep, go inward.
Sometimes read things that others wrote. I read about their long term sobriety and what it took them to get there. That it really did get better. That it would feel more natural eventually. They promised that I would find my center and stop feeling so horribly lost and regretful. They said just hold on and keep going.
And they were right.
It is a little better now. I feel like I can (mostly) be honest and vulnerable with the world. I’m less fearful. Less stuck in my own head. More thoughtful and patient. Less impulsive.
I still have dark nights. But I talk myself through them. I try to see them for what they are. Sometimes it’s just chemical and will pass. I remind myself of that.
And I remind myself that I’m strong enough to withstand the feelings. I breathe in and out and wait.
Sometimes it’s emotional, deep and old, and I process it. I write, and go down its paths until a crack appears and I can start to take it apart, or something breaks open and I can clean it out. Or reshape it. Or at least be aware of its presence so I can work around it.
Bottom line, it’s a process. A process I thought I either didn’t know how to participate in or was going about really badly a few months ago. Now I know I’m in it. And there’s no end really. Just a gradual feeling better. A little more confident. A bit better at handling what comes up and what life throws at me.
I think about what Johann Hari said, “the opposite of addiction is connection.” I always thought he meant connection to others, less isolation. And it does mean that. But even more it means connection to self, I think.
It was myself that was lost and this process has been one of trying to find my way back. The longer I’m sober ( I’ll be a year alcohol free tomorow), the stronger my connection to my real self and the world becomes. Now that I have it, I never want to lose it.
Wishing everyone out there well!
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