Seven Lessons I’ve Learned During Seven Years of Sobriety
Seven years ago I made a decision that would entirely change the course of my life. I decided to get help for my addiction and to make a serious effort to change my life. I was sick of living a life of active addiction and tired of hating myself for it. There have been a lot of ups and downs since the day I took my last drink and I have learned a lot about myself and how I want to live my life. Here are the ones that for me have stuck the most.
1. The little things make all the difference in the world.
Waking up without a hangover, keeping your word, maintaining commitments and fulfilling responsibilities may seem trivial to someone who has never experienced an addiction but I have learned to cherish these things and I know the importance of living a life without deceit and regret.
2. I no longer have to live “One Day At A Time.”
When I first got sober, each day was a struggle. Having to fight through cravings and learn new coping skills wasn’t exactly what I would call a fun time. Over the years I have noticed that I think about drinking less and less. I no longer feel the need to take my sobriety day by day. Not drinking has become second nature to me and what was a daily struggle has become a thing of the past.
3. By sharing my story I can inspire others to overcome their own addiction.
The more that people in recovery are willing to share their stories, the more it will encourage those who are still caught up in active addiction to change. We constantly hear about all of the sad stories of the people who didn’t make it out alive, but not as much about the people who did. Each life is important and sometimes other people need to hear our stories in order to find the courage to change their own.
4. I don’t have to let labels define me.
I used to think of myself as an alcoholic but recently I haven’t really thought of myself that way anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I realize how dangerous it would be for me if I were to start drinking again and I don’t want to throw my sobriety away, but I no longer define myself by addiction. I allow my own actions and determination to define who I am and nothing else.
5. I am so much stronger than I used to give myself credit for.
You never really know how strong you are until that is the only choice you have left. I never really understood this until I faced life’s challenges sober. Learning how to deal with the loss of a loved one without turning to some form of substance to escape took a lot of determination and self-growth. Realizing that grief is a part of the healing process in life was a huge eye-opener for me. Learning how to stand up for myself despite having to endure the potential backlash it might create has taken courage. I have learned the importance of not compromising myself in order to simply “keep the peace.” Telling the truth isn’t always easy, but it is always easier than living a lie.
6. I no longer stay sober because “I can’t drink.” I choose not to drink because I want to stay sober.
I used to be so jealous of people who were able to drink in moderation. I would dwell on it and feel sorry for myself that I just didn’t seem to have it in me to drink responsibly. I thought it was so unfair that I “couldn’t drink”. Now I am so grateful that I no longer have to drink just to get by in life. I no longer stay sober because I “can’t drink in moderation”, I stay sober because I feel better about myself this way than I ever did while I was drinking.
7. The rewards were worth the struggle.
This is something people will hear a lot in early recovery and in the beginning, it can be hard to believe. I even got sick of hearing people say it because it seemed so cliché. Well, all I can say is that without working through those difficult days in the beginning, I wouldn’t have the life I have today. Having a family and a home of my own seemed like a far-off dream seven years ago, but it has turned into my current reality. My new life still holds challenges but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.