As the new year approaches, I have been doing some reflecting. I have made it through another year without having a drink!! Sometimes I am honestly shocked that I have made it this long! I started to think about why I have actually been able to maintain this length of sobriety and I thought it would be helpful to others to know what I do to help myself.
I find everyone's personal path to recovery is very different. I would never say my way is the best or what is right but I may do something that could help you find what works for you. Getting sober is my most proud accomplishment.
My life before sobriety was empty, there was nothing to fulfil me and I was never my true self. I had no concept of what was right and wrong. I was lost in a world where I let myself be controlled by substances. My decisions were fueled by where the next party was or how I could get away with drinking alone.
I find it is important to reflect on my past from time to time, not in a regretful way but in a way that reminds me of how grateful I am to be where I am now. I often can't believe who I was for so many years because it is so far from who I am now. I had a friend ask me recently if I thought by getting sober did I become a new person or did the person I always was finally have a chance to shine through. I believe that I have always had the same heart and soul but drugs and alcohol clouded who I was. Sobriety gave me a chance to regain my sense of self and grow beyond the person I thought I was or could be.
My life now is very different. I live each day with a sense of purpose knowing that I am exactly where I need to be. I have moved beyond my addiction no longer letting it control me. I am empowered by my strength to push past my triggers and stay sober. With the tools I use in my daily life I give myself a chance to stay in the now and say no to a drink! I hope my advice can help guide you through a life of sobriety if that is what you are seeking or if anything give you new tools to maintaining sobriety.
HOW I MAINTAIN MY SOBRIETY!!
1. Have a support network of people that will be there for me no matter what. I have been very open about my sobriety to the people in my life. I know this is not for everyone but this works well for me. I know that the friends and loved ones that surround me would me would never let me drink in front of them. Removing people from your life that are bad influences is essential in my opinion. You need people who are going to lift you up, not tear you down!
2. I am an active member of Alcoholic Anonymous. A lot of people bash AA but it has saved my life. I see it as a safe place for me to go, surrounded by people who understand me more than I even understand myself at times and want to see me succeed in life. There is an idea that it is a religious program but it is not. It is meant to be a spiritual program and you can take from it whatever you like. There is no pressure to alter your beliefs! I have met the most amazing people in AA and I have a group of friends there that I know would never judge me for anything. If I was left on my own to stay sober without these people or this program, I know there would be a slim chance that I could stay happily sober for a long time. All I would encourage people to do is to have an open mind, you never know what may work for you in your own sobriety.
3. I have learned about mindfulness and how to stay in the moment. As I have written before I struggle with staying present but when I do my life is at peace. When I am not upset about the past or worrying about the future life is good. I can let go of burdens that are beyond my control and be free. I have a need to control almost everything in my life but when I take a step back and realize I don't actually need to do this I feel so much better. I try to meditate, practice gratitude and get through each day one day at a time. Something I use to do this are I use lots of guided meditations on youtube for positivity. If you are new to meditation I would suggest starting with these before you move to silent meditation. I also use a book called, "The 5 Minute Journal," where you are meant to reflect every morning and night. Lastly, I read, "The Language of Letting Go," which is a daily reflection book. These are just little things I try to do each day to keep me centred. I will put links to each at the bottom of the post.
4. I always need to be honest with myself. For the first 6 months of my sobriety, I didn't go out very much. I was very new to the program and I was new to my sober self so I needed to take it easy. It was very hard sometimes, I am 24 years old and all of my friends still go out drinking but it was a short period of time I had to sacrifice. In those time, it felt like an eternity that I was not doing much but in hindsight, I see that this time was vital to my sobriety. To achieve long-term sobriety there are things you have to be okay with giving up. You must decide if you are willing to make these changes. In my experience, anyone that is willing is ready for sobriety. If you want it you can have it. It is that simple. There are times you may not like it but anything is better than a life trapped in addiction.
5. Do the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not preaching to join AA but I always say that even if regular people did the steps, the world would be a lot better of a place. Simply put, the steps are a guide to becoming a better, more self-aware person and can lead you to a better life. You reflect on your life, who and what you resent, then you get the chance to let go of all the pain and suffering. I can't explain all the steps in a little paragraph but it is the most transformative process you could do for yourself. All I can say is be open minded.
6. Lastly, take one day at a time. A lot of people ask me if I am planning on being sober for my entire life. The answer is yes but in my head, I am freaking out. Thinking that for the rest of my life I will never have a drink again is terrifying but if I say to myself, I just need to get through this day or even this hour without a drink, it all seems a little more possible. Sobriety can be daunting because being drunk has been our solution to everything for years, possibly a lifetime. But now that solution is no longer working. That is why you are considering getting sober because what used to help now makes everything worse. I thought my life was hopeless and I was going to continue doing what I was doing forever but now it is literally the opposite. I see endless possibilities for what my life could be and I get to enjoy life as it is meant to be.
ANYONE CAN DO THIS!! I cannot stress this enough. Sobriety can be achieved by anyone who wants it. This life is not for a few lucky people, it is for those who are willing and want to change their lives for the better!! I can do this, you can do this, we are ALL in this together. Be proud of your sobriety as I am. I wear it as a badge of honour, I am not ashamed, nor should you be. We didn't choose to have this disease but we can decide when we are ready to not let it control our lives anymore. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Years and as always feel free to email me if you need any guidance or just someone to talk to.