At OTI we are working hard to shout about the joys that sobriety can bring. We put a lot of energy into making it clear that a life without alcohol isn’t boring or void of magic; in fact, the opposite is true.
However, just because sobriety can lead to a fulfilling life beyond your wildest dreams, doesn’t mean that it’s always rosy. There are various moments in sobriety that are hard.
Even if you welcome the idea of going alcohol-free with open arms, you will face obstacles.
· You might go through a process of grieving your old self (even if the old you wasn’t the nicest)
· You may have to confront feelings you’ve been using alcohol to avoid for many years
· Life could throw you a curveball (or several) that you’ll need to deal with
· You might realise going sober hasn’t been a magic cure for all your struggles
· Relationships damaged by your alcohol use could take time to fix
· You could feel lost as you try to figure out what you actually enjoy doing in your spare time
The list goes on!
Life is complex and messy. Getting rid of alcohol is only a small piece of the puzzle (albeit an important one). You never know what will happen in the next moment, and so we can’t expect everything to be all sunshine and rainbows.
Also, we aren’t perfect! There are going to be days where we feel like shit, eat loads of sugar, and sleep until the afternoon. There might be days we feel depressed and like nothing’s worth anything. We might still take our bad moods out on people or be selfish sometimes. Going alcohol-free isn't the magical answer to all life's difficulties. (Even if it might seem that way from sober social media accounts!)
However, I truly believe that sadness, pain, and struggle are incredibly important parts of life that we shouldn’t try to avoid or skip. During the most difficult periods of my life, I have grown, cultivated bravery, and learned to understand myself more deeply. No matter how hard they were, I wouldn’t change them for the world.
Of course, it can feel like the universe is kicking us whilst we’re down when we find ourselves facing hardship during early sobriety. I have frequently found myself internally screaming ‘WHY, GOD, WHY?!’ when everything seems to be going wrong for me.
But the truth is, we cannot control what happens to us, we can only control our reaction to it. Perhaps that’s why AA say the serenity prayer at the end of each meeting: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. (Of course, you don’t have to be religious to understand the importance of this sentiment.)
We inject meaning into our lives through how we react to certain situations. We can either label ourselves victims of a cruel world in an objectively terrible situation, OR we can choose to assign it an entirely different meaning.
We can, with practice, choose to feel negative emotions and then learn from them. We can choose to view one door closing as another door opening. We can choose to seek perspective on our issues and tell ourselves we have the capacity to handle them.
Take this as a reminder that just because sobriety isn’t always easy, doesn’t mean it’s not fulfilling, rewarding, and worthwhile. Most of our proudest achievements involved a little pain and struggle. Any of the bad stuff you might be feeling is likely an important part of your journey, and there is a whole damn community of us who you can reach out to if it all feels like too much.