I get asked quite often if it’s hard to stay sober. I hardly ever respond by saying “yes”. Once I made the decision to completely cut substance out of my life, the physical state of sobriety has not been the most challenging part of the change. It was all the damage left behind and I think that’s where the confusion between sobriety and recovery occurs. Recovery is so much more than not taking a drink. It’s about having a complete physic change. When I got sober, everything had to change so that I could start to grow within my spiritual life. If I had simply just tried to stay substance free without any action taken around how I live my life, my sobriety wouldn’t exist.
My main objective when I wake up in the morning is to press the restart button on my recovery. I wake up every single day an alcoholic. No matter how much clean time I have, it doesn’t erase my disease nor does it cure it. What I did yesterday will not keep me sober today. I have to work everyday, all the time on recovery and the second I choose to put my sobriety second to anything, I am at risk of relapsing.
That isn’t easy. Recovery is not easy. I get patted on the back all the time saying I have the will power that most don’t but recovery isn’t will power. My recovery depends on my spiritual state and how much I choose to put into that. I’ve had to make sacrifices that people without alcoholism don’t have to make. Some say they feel bad for me but most days I am so beyond grateful for this disease because it makes work hard to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Recently I had a really bad day. Nothing catastrophic happened, I just couldn’t get my stress level down. I was driving home from work and this thought came to my head that has only happened one other time in my 22 months of sobriety. That monster I like to keep in it’s cage called alcoholism came out for a second and it said to me “The only way to feel better is to drink” It scared the shit out of me. For that second, I craved the oblivion. I romanticized drinking and I relished in the thought of the calm substance could bring me. Then I picked up the phone and called a fellow sober person and surely enough was able to lock the monster up again.
For a few days after that I was really angry. I was really mad that I was an alcoholic because how it that fair? How is it fair that I can’t be normal and I can’t have the fun my peers are having? Why do I even waste my time working so hard at being sober when I still have shitty days? Why do I have a disease that wants me dead? Why me?
These are the kind of thoughts that potentially could get me drunk because alcoholism wants me to think this way. It wants me to feed it and through recovery I’ve learned that I can’t afford to give in to those thoughts, not even for one second because it only takes one second for me to drink again–to take a sip, to smoke that pipe, to snort poison, to die spiritually and eventually physically.
My alcoholism kept me in the dark for so many years. It loved to tell me how worthless I was and to beg for substance to soothe the aching pain. I lived to be fucked up–to not be me and when I look back at that misery, I laugh at my self-pitty because my life is amazing because I am in recovery. Recovery has given me a life that I never knew was possible. I thought substance was going to allow me to survive this miserable existence and now I know that recovery makes it possible to actually live an incredible life.
So to those who wonder if it’s hard being a 22 year old recovering alcoholic, my answer to you is sometimes. It’s hard to explain myself to people on a daily basis as to why I can’t just have one beer. Or having to defend why I chose this life over my old one and to constantly feel like an alien of some sort because how I live my life is different than majority of society.
I feel left out sometimes and I occasionly wish I could blend in and be normal. But to blend in is not what I’m here to do. I strive to make a difference and lead by example of how doing what is right for you is perfectly okay. I share my pain openly because that’s rare to find in this life. We all wonder what our purpose of being here is. I know mine. This life is hard enough for us all and if I can be just one person that makes a difference in someone’s life, someone’s day, or to just make their life a little easier, then I am serving my authentic purpose. No, it’s not easy but just like anything, amazing things really don’t come easy and I believe that’s what makes them amazing. I am so grateful for exactly how my journey has panned out thus far and I welcome the challenges I face because they allow me to grow and that’s what my recovery is all about.