Staying sober especially in early recovery can be quite a challenge. Being drunk may have been your default state for a very long time, and a normal part of your life. Being sober may now seem unnatural, and quite uncomfortable, and you may often miss your drinking lifestyle.
When I embarked on this journey, I had no idea what my future life would look like. Everything in my life seemed so very serious. It was all recovery and 12-step work, and meetings with my sponsor, and therapy. I was very grateful that all those things were in my life. However, sometimes, I felt the need for a break, and I missed having fun; the kind of fun that I used to have… a very long time ago before my drinking got out of hand.
Of course I did not miss the hangovers, the financial problems, the health issues, the panic attacks, or the repercussions of blackouts. But, I missed the simple, drunk socialization while sitting on a bar stool at the local dive where “Everyone knew my name!”
However, I also knew that at this point I could not handle that kind of thing whats so ever!
And you too, may still crave being drunk and “social.” This is a normal part of recovery – a sort of a grieving of the old life as your new life is starting to take shape. You may not crave the drink itself but the buzz, the high, the greatly relaxing feelings that flow all over and make all your troubles just seem to melt away instantaneously.
Unfortunately, we have to remember the reality, and for me this changed very abruptly at some point. I no longer drank to relax and enjoy. I just drank. There was no reason. I drank not to feel anything or to feel something even more. That did not work. Except it made me not care about anything.
Today, as a sober person, I have to learn how to deal with life, my life on life’s terms. For me I find it helpful to look beyond the fun, and beyond the people that seem to be having fun while they have a few drinks. My fantasy may start this way but the rest of the night would not look or end so well. And just like on the TV or the advertisements that make everything look fun and glamorous, I have to remember the reality of the hangovers, the blackouts, and the resulting consequences that I had to deal with the next day.
But recovery has taught me that getting sober and staying sober are two different things. Both require work, and practicing not drinking even if we want to. Staying sober involves changing myself so I am healthy mentally and emotionally. It may be a slow process in general, but the results are wonderful and allow me to be happy and free.
Recovery has also given me many more tools and a real chance at happiness and fun! I am actually able to manage my feelings. I am able to enjoy the moments, and actually BE happy, and feel real happiness. Feelings are no longer so scary and I no longer have a need to bury them deep down. I understand that they are just feelings and they change and go away.
Recovery is also learning to cope without alcohol. This step is crucial to a solid foundation to a life without drinking. If you do not learn how to cope, you are likely to return to drinking, because it will always look easier and more favorable.
Recovery also means doing things outside of recovery. It is important to add other activities besides recover to your life – volunteering, hobbies, reading something other than self-help or recovery literature, and learning to talk about something other than recovery. It is all about balance and not overdoing it on everything.
Recovery is also changing our thinking. I do not stay sober by thinking about not drinking. I simply am sober because I found a way to enjoy life without alcohol. I also let go of the idea that drinking was useful and fun for me. When I am in acceptance of this concept, I am in a neutral place, I do not need to think about drinking, nor do I think about not drinking. Then not drinking becomes the new normal in my life and I no longer miss the drinking lifestyle.
How about you? Do you ever miss your drinking life?
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.