Today marks 15 months of sobriety.
I wasn’t sure how my life would change when I decided to stop drinking. But I wanted to try so I could see for myself.
Here’s what happened.
Reading. I read again! When I was drinking, I didn’t read. I’d read tidbits of a book and keep one by my bedside but it was more like a visual prop back then. Now if it’s on my bedside table it’s because I’m reading it. And here’s the thing about reading. I can literally feel parts of my brain light up that had been in darkness for years. It’s like opening windows and airing out rooms. Letting in the wind, sun and rain of imagination.
Sobriety (especially the early kind) can be incredibly lonely and painful. You need to figure out new ways of relating to people. You need to leave some people behind. New friendships, with healthy people who aren’t in active addiction, take time to find and sober bonds take time to form. So many feelings that had been pushed down with booze and other substances start to surface, so early sobriety is also a very emotional time. At times it feels almost unbearable.
There’s also the matter of long-term celibacy. They say you should take at least one year off from forming any new romantic relationships. I’m gunning for at least two. It takes time to figure out who you are, let alone what you want in a partner. This article on being loved by (and as) someone in active addiction is a helpful and eye-opening read.
Early sobriety is tenuous. It must be protected and safeguarded. People from the past are delegated to people you’ll miss and care for but can’t have in your life. And sometimes that hurts like hell. There were nights, especially in the early months, where I literally cried from loneliness. Loneliness is now alone time and it’s my favorite part of the day and night. Self-care is something I figured out along the way and it’s something that is continuously refined.
Those are just some of the things.
There are the obvious benefits. of course. The weight loss and overall improved mental and physical health. The no more sick days (work and otherwise), the clarity, being present for work, friends and family. Most of all, figuring out who you are and what you love. The self-discovery is immense in recovery, especially as time starts to stack up.
Who knew “one day at a time” could be such a rich, harrowing and fulfilling journey?
Not me. I had no idea.