How It Feels to Be Six Years Sober
Every year around May 22nd I like to take a look back at my life and see how much it has changed. It has become a special day for me and a time of reflection because it is the day that I took my last drink. On May 23rd, 2018 I will officially be six years sober. I like to think of it as a second birthday because in many ways it is. It is a day that marks the choice I made to change the path I was on. It wasn’t always easy, but I am beyond grateful that I did.
Sometimes people have the misconception that once they get sober all of their problems will go away and life will instantly become easier. While in some ways this is true, I certainly have less avoidable problems in my life than I did before, that doesn’t mean that it is carefree. I think that this is where some people get hung up when they are confronted with adversity in recovery. We no longer have to deal with the ever emerging consequences that are brought about by substance abuse, but we still have to deal with the challenges of life.
Sometimes when I tell people that I don’t drink they look at me like I am crazy and there must be something wrong with me. People often ask, what do you do for fun or how do you deal with stress? I can say with strong certainty that I do a lot more things for fun now than I did when I was drinking too much. All I liked to do for fun back then was drink. As for stress, I have learned to deal with it in healthy ways that don’t end up making my life worse. I think it is sad that people find it odd when someone doesn’t drink. What is so strange about being able to go through life without using a substance to relax, have fun or deal with stress? To me, this means freedom.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself when I was first starting out on this journey of sobriety… I think I would hug myself, and we would both probably cry… a lot. I would tell that person thank you. Thank you for making one of the most difficult decisions, because it has completely changed the course of my life. Thank you for sticking it out through those early sleepless nights. Thank you for finding the courage to fight through the cravings. Thank you for learning to confront the adversity and challenges in your life instead of just running away from them and trying to drink them away. Thank you for being stronger than you ever imagined you could be. And most of all, thank you for finally learning to love and appreciate yourself enough to no longer let a substance control your life.
My decision to get sober did cost me some things, but what I have gained in return is far more precious than gold. I have paid off my debts, I have married someone I consider to be my best friend, I have become a mother and I have earned back the trust of my family. These things did not happen overnight, and it took a lot of work to get where I am now. Sometimes I wonder if I knew back then what I know now, would it have made the process of giving up drinking a little easier? I am not sure. I do know beyond a doubt that I wouldn’t trade what I have now for the world, and I owe it all to that one decision to finally get sober.
So how does it feel to be reaching the six-year mark? It is a mixture of emotions that are difficult to describe. I would have to say that it is a feeling of pride and amazement that I have made it this far, but most of all I feel a peace that I always looked for but could never find when I was abusing alcohol.
To anyone out there who may be reading this that is on the fence about recovery, I would like to tell you that you can do this. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. There will probably be times when you want to give up, the important thing is that you don’t. When you fight through the hard times to take back control of your life, you become more powerful than you ever thought possible. You will probably lose some people that you thought were friends, but you will gain the best friend you could ever have… yourself.
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After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.
Three months before I arrived at Narconon, my life was rough. I lied, cheated and disregarded every bit of help that was offered. This is coming from talks with friends and family members. I was in such a state that I never thought that I could ever feel better again, I didn’t care whether I lived or died…
Before I came to rehab, I was in the deepest darkest hole I had ever dug myself into. I ended up becoming something that I hated, something that I truly despised. I became a heroin addict. A heroin addict that chose to shoot up dope, rather than enjoying the smiles and words from my loved ones.