Sobriety Is Completely Different Than I Expected

I knew I needed to get sober long before I actually did. It took literally YEARS for me to seek out help. This was years of trying one more thing to manage my drinking. When that didn’t work I would try another. And another. It was years of  feeling sick and embarrassed, of hiding from my friends and family and, really, life.  By the time I finally darkened the door of an AA meeting, I was beat. I knew NOTHING else worked. My goose was cooked. The choice was either to ask for help or…well, let’s just say the other choice was not pretty.

My outlook for my sober life ahead didn’t look so great either. Truth is, I drank because I couldn’t stand to be sober. The prospect of long unhappy years stretched before me, cut off from the only salve I knew that made life bearable.  I envisioned myself sitting in countless dark and depressing recovery meetings, vibrating out of my skin as I fought the constant urge to drink. I would be cut off from society, not allowed to go to parties or social events because there would be liquor there.  I would be alone and joyless, but alive.

Fortunately, what I found from that very first day was something completely different. I walked into a room full of HAPPY people. Wait, what?  Sober AND happy? Could it be possible? I stuck around and heard people’s stories that sounded like my own. Tears streamed down my face as I realized just how broken I was. And, as I stood up and took that first Welcome chip at that meeting, ugly crying, hair and clothes a mess, unable to make eye contact, I knew somewhere within me I had finally found the answer.  I would come back and see what these people had to offer.

That was a few years ago and I haven’t had a drink or drug since then. As my sobriety journey has progressed, I can see how my experience is the exact opposite of what I expected that day. Sobriety had some interesting surprises in store for me.

How Sobriety Is Completely Different Than I Expected

I Don’t Even WANT a Drink

I thought I would always have the compulsion to drink and do drugs. This was a part of me that would never leave. Every day I would have to muster up the willpower to fight the urge to escape reality. This is not true. Today, the thought of drinking just doesn’t happen. On those very few occasions that someone offers me a drink, I just smile, crack a joke, and get something nonalcoholic instead. As long as I stay connected and do the things AA taught me, I am free of the addiction that used to be a constant companion.

AA Is Fun

We’ve all seen AA meetings in the movies where a bunch of sad and depressed people sitting around in a circle sharing their misery. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case. Many of the meetings I attend are celebrations. People share strength and hope. People offer help and comradery. I always leave an AA meeting feeling better than I did when I walked in.

Other People Can Drink Around Me

Football parties, dinner parties, weddings, picnics…you name it, they all have all serve alcohol. I thought I would not be able to go to these things because it would make me want to drink. Or, if forced to attend, I would watch others drink and long for those days when I could join them. Thankfully, this is not so. Today, I can go to any event. I can be with others who drink and enjoy their company. I don’t long for the good old days because I have no delusions. They WEREN’T GOOD OLD DAYS for me. I took a long sober look at my behavior when I drank and I KNOW I can’t have just one drink. It never happened. After that first drink there were ALWAYS many more…and the chaos and mayhem that came with them. Recovery taught me about the nature of the alcoholic allergy, which is a very real thing. And I have it.

Sobriety Is Fun

Those dark and joyless days I thought would be in my future just never happened. I am still awestruck by the fact that today I laugh harder than I ever did when I drank. I sing louder and spontaneously joke around. Who knew that the joy I was looking for in a bottle was within me the whole time?

I Am Not Alone

In the last years of drinking, I was always alone. There was no room for socializing when I knew I would get drunk and behave poorly. Best to just stay at home with my best friend…alcohol. Strangely, I thought sobriety would be even more lonely. I had no idea I would make a host of new friends and have tons of social events to attend. But that is how life is today. I am absolutely surrounded by sober, happy, well-adjusted people who like my company. I sure didn’t see that coming.

The 12 Steps Actually Make Life Better

The Steps were for other people. “I got this” was my motto. Who wants to drudge up the past and work so hard on themselves? Luckily I was defeated when I sought sobriety. I would do anything to get better. So I started doing The Steps with a sponsor. Surprisingly, I started feeling better right away. With each successive step I felt even better: connected, whole. My delusional thinking quieted down. Sure, looking at my past and doing the work wasn’t always easy. But the rewards are far greater than I thought they would be. I can stand tall and look the world in the eye today. I know who I am and am willing to be even better. It turns out the Steps were for me as well.                          

So, it turns out I was completely wrong about this sober thing. At every turn, sober life has new gifts and surprises. It sounds strange, but I have come to see my drinking days as gifts. They were so bad that I was forced to find a new way of life that I may have missed, had life been easier. My downfall turned out to be my strength. Today I am a strong woman, getting stronger every day. I feel light, free, content and supported. I do the work and I reap the rewards. And I have sobriety and my sober friends to thank for it.

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