Yesterday was my 1 year milestone and I felt so much love. Some of you even bought my new poetry book, which was amazing! After a full year of living alcohol-free, I’d like to share some of the things I learned throughout the past 366 days. Being sober is not easy. Especially when the world is falling apart from pandemics and racism. But if I learned anything, it’s that you CAN do difficult things. So here’s what I discovered about sobriety and myself:
🔸 Better Together: You can do it on your own, but sobriety is MUCH better with a community. I started my Instagram account when I was 3 months sober and things got way, way better once I got active in the sober community. I was white-knuckling my way through recovery without trying any kind of additional sobriety programs or therapy, which was extremely hard. I actually believe now that I would have relapsed if I had not gotten super involved with not only the online sober community, but with several sober/sober-curious meetup groups as well.
🔸Relearning Fun: You will have to relearn how to have fun and that might take some time; don’t push yourself too hard right away. You basically have to rewire your brain because for so many years, “fun” was synonymous with drinking. I would find every and any excuse to drink at events. If I was going to things that weren’t alcohol-related, you can bet your ass I would make them alcohol-related. Without booze I was suddenly at a loss. What the fuck did sober people do for fun? Sit around and cry? Slowly I began to figure it out. I gained new hobbies and new interests. I can honestly say I have MORE fun now than I ever did when I was drinking.
🔸 Take Your Time: You’re gonna want to hibernate in early sobriety and that’s OK. Take the time you need to be gentle with yourself. I was socially distancing before the CDC asked us to because I was no longer comfortable going to events that I knew people would be drinking heavily at. You might spend several months drifting away from friends, but that is normal and allowed. Real friends will understand why you are pulling back and will still love you. Don’t completely isolate yourself, but it’s really totally fine if you want to stay in a lot more and skip social events. Which brings us to…
🔸 Identity Crisis: You might be WAY more introverted than you realized. I thought I was an extrovert while I was drinking and when I got sober I quickly realizing how taxing social situations were and how much happier I was when I was just alone to do my own thing. Alcohol has a way of blurring and even erasing your true personality, so you might discover that you are a drastically different person without it.
🔸My Recovery Isn’t Your Recovery: Everyone’s withdrawal symptoms or physical changes will be different; don’t compare yourself and fear you’re failing. I thought that one of the physical benefits of sobriety is that you lose weight. I did, but it took about 5 months to see those changes. I saw people who dropped 10 pounds instantly within a few weeks of quitting and because my body wasn’t doing that, I felt bad. But you need to remember that everyone recovers differently. What works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa. It’s really important to focus on your own journey. And to especially not judge someone else for healing differently than you.
🔸 Life Changes: Sobriety will leak into other areas of your life; in both a good and bad way (relationships, friendships, work, etc.) and it’s not something you can really compartmentalize, so try to embrace it. You’re going to have to accept the notion of change with open arms, because you can’t drastically eliminate a part of your life and expect nothing else to be affected. You will probably lose and gain friends. Your job might change. Your relationships will fluctuate. You will find yourself exploring new things and values. Again, this is normal, and you should not feel bad about it.
🔸 It Gets Better: Your life will get better. Not right away, and not magically, but the potential to become a happier, kinder person will be there. That is the greatest gift sobriety can give you: a second chance at your life. At the life that you and your loved ones deserve. Work hard, be strong, find friends, love each other. That is how you make recovery stick. You can do this. Don’t you want to be happy? This is your shot.