An Honest Look at Sobriety: The Good, the Hard, the Real

Guest post by Michele Maize

Dana Leigh Lyons Newsletter
6 min readJun 17, 2024


My last drink was on January 6th, 2021. January 7th will always be a special date for me, because I finally gave up the drink for good. I surrendered and accepted that alcohol was no good for me. And it’s the day I started writing, just a year later.

I almost can’t believe it — even more so, how easy it has been. For so many years, I didn’t want to quit drinking even though I knew it was a problem. I didn’t know how I would face life without alcohol. It was my crutch, my best friend, and my social elixir while also being my worst enemy.

It started off fun, as with any drug. You open up, you feel free, and you are fun. I wanted to replicate that feeling and tried for many years. But, that’s the problem with any addictive substance. It’s never the same as the first time. You chase those feelings, and — for someone like me — you think that more of the substance will make you feel even better.

That is why one is never enough for someone like me. And it’s almost comical that something that could make you feel so good and confident can also make you feel the worst. Hangovers, throwing up, and killer headaches are not something I want to subscribe to again.

My journey isn’t unique, but it is my journey. It all started with an alcoholic, abusive mother who traumatized my early years. I said I wouldn’t be like her or drink like she did. I definitely wouldn’t be doing any drugs. Or so I thought.

But that’s the thing with trauma and childhood. If you don’t get help, many end up medicating those feelings. That is what my mother did. And the cycle continues.

I know that I will never feel the feeling of the first time again, nor do I want to. I also know that I will never be like my mother, but I might turn into her if start drinking again.

That was the last straw that solidified my strong desire to quit and stay sober. I looked at myself in the mirror that day on January 6th and saw her staring back at me. It was scary. Her bulging red eyes always frightened me, and that is what I saw in myself.

It scared me straight. I didn’t want my two daughters to think of me the same way I think about her. Enough was enough.

I knew deep down that I was better than that. I wouldn’t allow this awful affliction to keep taking me down.

Early sobriety brought me to the depths of who I am as a person. I believe I’ve been trying to find that person my whole life, and I’ve been incredibly lost. Floating around in a haze doesn’t help you find your true self.

When I quit drinking, my world got a whole lot bigger. My fresh set of sober eyes opened up so many possibilities. Seeing the beauty around me that I had taken for granted was astounding.

Once I had no time at all because it was wasted. Now, here I was, with so much time and potential ahead of me. I immersed myself in sobriety and everything that it had to offer. I read voraciously and learned about addiction and trauma. I learned what alcohol does to the body and why it is so bad for our minds.

I started to breathe and live like I never had before. Getting sober was a complete reset, and it has only gotten better. I know that my life is good right now because of my sobriety. There are so many benefits, but it is not always easy. It’s good but hard at times.

The Good

Better sleep, fresh skin, motivation, clarity, clear-headed thinking, new friends, deeper connections, new hobbies, and amazing experiences that I remember are just some of the benefits.

But I can’t forget about the more important stuff.

I haven’t felt shame upon waking in the morning in about two years. Things popped up in my dreams in early sobriety, bringing back some awful memories. There are some that I really don’t enjoy reliving.

I don’t have to pretend to remember conversations with my family. On top of that, I don’t have to hear, “You don’t remember? I told you last night.” Talk about wanting to run and hide in the corner.

Not always wondering when I’ll be drinking next and not thinking about drinking is so mentally freeing. I have so much time and space for other things.

There is no more jolting awake at 3 a.m. with dreadful anxiety or risking my life by getting in the car when I shouldn’t.

Now, I have self-respect and compassion towards myself and others. Actually, I am proud of myself for how far I have come. It’s hard to realize and accept the person that I was. It’s crazy how much alcohol changed my entire personality.

As in life though, nothing is always easy.

The Hard

You feel everything. Without numbing out, you have to process and go through difficult emotions. You are forced to sit with your feelings.

There is what they call the “pink cloud” in sobriety (based on all the good things I mentioned above), but there are also stormy seasons.

Life is still life. Relationships are hard sometimes. Being a parent is hard. Everything is rewarding, but it doesn’t mean it’s always smooth sailing.

I’m awkward and have social anxiety around people I don’t know well. Going to big functions and parties was so hard for me in the beginning — hell, even for the first year.

It has gotten so much easier as I’ve grown into myself. They say that when you start drinking heavily, you don’t grow past that age. I attest that is true. It’s no wonder why I still feel like a teenager inside at times. I never grew up until I hit my 40s. I finally feel like an adult, but adulting sucks a lot of the time.

The Real

When you stop numbing and start feeling, things get easier with time. You learn. You grow and evolve into a better person if you are continuing to work on yourself.

I’ve had some tough times expressing my feelings to others, which led to rocky relationships. But, with time and growing up, I’ve done things that I never had before. I’ve been accountable. I say sorry and mean it. I don’t try to deny anything but instead take responsibility for my actions.

I’ve changed. I am glad that I did. Who wants to stay the same anyway? I think advice for a healthy sobriety can be applied to anyone just looking to better themselves.

I don’t miss the party girl. That girl partied long enough. I am embracing my slower lifestyle now. I love staying in. I don’t fear being alone anymore. I actually love it.

Bad things really can have a silver lining. It’s hard to say I don’t regret anything, but I wouldn’t have had the chance to turn my life around and become who I am now without going through it. That’s a new feeling — being happy with myself. I’ll take it, and alcohol won’t steal that away from me again.

I’ll raise my glass and say cheers to myself and anyone else who is fighting the good fight. I hope that I don’t sound preachy. I just want to spread the good, the hard, and the real to anyone who needs a sign that it’s time to make the same decision.

That’s why I started writing: for release and with the hope that someone can relate to my story, which will help them keep writing their story — one of recovery.

Your turn!

We’d love for you to share in the comments:

  • What are the best parts of sobriety for you?
  • What are the hardest parts?
  • Was there a specific moment when you decided to get sober?

And if you found this article helpful, please leave a clap or 50. It lets others know there’s something useful here and will help us grow this community.

Michele Maize is a sober traveler who writes to share her struggles and hope. Michele has been sober and in recovery since January 2021 and spreads her message on Medium and Substack. After struggling with substances for years, she is passionate about recovery and continuing to learn about addiction. On Substack, you can find Michele at: THE MAIZE.

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