I thought since I chose adaptation this week to reflect on, I would help others by spelling out life after sobriety. There are things you are going to tell yourself you can still do. Things you don’t believe will ever change. But they do, whether you like it or not. And generally when you don’t like it, you yearn to return to that place you were before, just to feel like you are at peace. To help you prevent that relapse, here are some things to keep in mind.
You Will Lose Friends
It is inevitable. It is the main thing you may find yourself fighting against until your knuckles bleed. You can’t imagine life without him or her or them. You may even become isolated if your drinking/drug friends were the only thing you had. You have to fight the urge to make exceptions. Saying “I can still be around them” may trick you into believing you actually can. I know I did. I tried to go to parties and bars with drinking friends. All it did was frustrate me. I never took a sip because I knew what was most important. So I had to slip away by cover of night. I had to let go even though it made my heart bleed. I still tell myself, maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to revisit those people. But I can hang my sobriety on it.
You WILL Make New Friends
Either through whatever program you are in or whatever place you find to go instead of a bar or a friend’s house, you will meet people who aren’t always drunk or high. Which seems impossible when you are looking forward from that place prior to sobriety. Who has fun without needing someone to get drunk with? But you will. I did at my church. And while those people may have a drink or whatever, it isn’t the same atmosphere. And I can connect with people sober mind to sober mind so there is no masks. There’s not a fear of acceptance. I thought I was shy without drinking. I have found that I have so much more to say and so many people who will listen.
There Will Be People That Stand Behind You
Family. Childhood friends. People that knew you when you were at your brightest. Before the muck. You should reach out, even in your embarrassment or pain. You would be surprised how many people just miss you.
No Matter What You Say, You Can’t Go Back to That Bar
All of the above will lead you to thinking of how you will wiggle your way back into your old life with this new mindset. Save your brain space. No you can’t. And don’t try to prove me wrong. Even if you make it through the night, the frustration will be insane. Don’t put yourself in positions that will make sober life uncomfortable. It already will be uncomfortable enough.
You Will Spend Upwards of Two Years Trying to Adjust
I spent six months sober trying to tell myself everything was fine. Until it wasn’t and I was mentally ill, constantly anxious and extremely uncomfortable. I had a therapist since I had gotten off the drugs but the alcohol proved my worst adversary. So after six months of saying “I got this” I didn’t. And I got a psychiatrist. And I tried meds. And for about eight months I was a guinea pig, which was uncomfortable enough (which is why I say don’t add to it by pushing yourself to do things you know will frustrate you). Then finally I had the right meds. The right doctor. The right program in therapy. A diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I had answers.
Delving into the Reasons Why is How You Heal, As Difficult As It Is
Answers. Sometimes we don’t want them. We don’t want to go back to dark places that brought us to where we are. We figure that sobriety is enough. It’s not. You need to understand why you were in that place. You need a diagnosis, a memory you suppressed, a conversation with someone that watched you fall. You need to dig out the roots of the weeds that tangled themselves around your very innocent and human mind. They are not necessarily your fault, though sometimes you will blame yourself. You have to clear it out. You have to let a better garden grow.
Bottom Line: Adaptation to Sobriety is Going to Make Addiction Seem Easier
Don’t let it win. Don’t give in. Learn to forgive and love yourself. Learn to heal wounds in whatever manner you see fit. Love those you had to let go of and love those that enter this phase in your life. You have this. Take time with yourself. This will be the hardest thing you do but you will do it because you are a human being with remarkable resilience. And if no one else around you sees that in you, know that I and others like us do. I love you.
Two years, so incredibly happy.