There are really only two stories we tell our self when contemplating or walking through recovery. We are either attached to our old story—our suffering, or, we are attached to finding a new story—our freedom. We can’t have both, at least not at the same moment.
We think that elimination of alcohol will make our life zippy. It does not. For many, the early sober life is worse than the last days of the drinking life. At least when we drank we escaped the horror of our choices—albeit temporary. If we do, by chance, get and stay clean for a while we are fortunate, but certainly not free.
If we do no type of healing work we are almost doomed to return to drinking. And if we do stay sober without healing work we are miserable to be around. We still view the world through our alcoholic lens. Our decisions are impaired by lopsided thinking.
This is such a normal state for alcoholics to be in … it is, in fact, why most of us drank. We don’t feel the way regular people feel day in and day out. We feel better drinking. That’s why we did it in the first place. Drinking took us to a place that felt better than not drinking. We didn’t much like what came with our drinking, but we were willing to sacrifice to have those few moments of reprieve.
What comes next? We give up alcohol, we mourn a former self, we accept (with hope) that a brand new self will emerge with work, and we accomplish it all while learning to function without our crutch in a world that promotes alcohol—relentlessly. We do pretty damn good.
If we’re one of the fortunate to be reading this sober, congratulations. We have accomplished a feat that few would volunteer to undertake. Recovery feels harsh. Few want to hear how well we are progressing because in their eyes we should have been doing well all along. Few recognizes the depth of our pain when we finally eradicate what feels like a part of our body. Few understand the discomfort and anxiety we have faced functioning in a world that shuns addicts (recovered or not). Few, but always another recovering alcoholic.
It is through the shedding of our old story, all the dreadful minutiae, all the pain we caused self and others that we eventually write a new story, a new person. It is through investigation, inquiry, feeling, and diffusing that we discover a person we never knew. A person who is barely ready, but ready enough, to face their past and their future in this now moment. A person that is willing to fight to be free on the inside.
Through all the rewrites we discover a beauty. It was a beauty we thought did not exist. And if it did, surely we had destroyed it with alcohol.
Some days this journey will come easy. Some days it will be confrontational. But it will always be truly and unimaginably awakening.
Do not believe you are all alone in your drinking story. Do not believe you will suffer forever. There is a new story and it comes with some work. Do some work, begin your investigating. The freedom you have so long chased is awaiting you. It’s not in a bottle. It’s in you.
There is really only one choice to make: Will you suffer endlessly with your old story or persevere and find your freedom in a new one?
Recovery SI : Bridging the gap between treatment and recovery. Literally, a library of incredible reads. Please check it out. No matter how long you’ve been sober, there is something to learn.
Inspire Malibu: Science Evidence Based Treatment (non- 12-step). Drawing a perforated line between treatment and maintenance. Cutting edge information.
Sober Identity and/or Lisa Neumann are not affiliated with either of these resources/sites and receives no compensation, whatsoever, if you visit these sites or pursue treatment. These are just some really great people.