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 my self that was lost and this process has been one of trying to find my way back. The longer I’m sober, 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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