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Emotional Sobriety- Different than Physical Sobriety

For the first time in seven months I will be heading home to be with my family – Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Grandfather and my new sister-in-law. Last time I went home I was discharging from rehab and heading back to Santa Barbara 7 ½ months sober with no direction, no job and still very little self-confidence. I had agreed to move back in with my parents and try to make a go of rebuilding my jewelry business (a business that was very much in shambles when I left for treatment). I had no money and absolutely no idea how anything was going to work out….I was still involved in an ongoing case resulting from the legal wreckage I had caused almost a year before, unsure of the outcome or whether I would be taking the case to trial. To put it bluntly I was still very unstable in my own head and apparently in my sobriety.

I ended up relapsing immediately after returning home to my parent’s house – it took two days. Now remember, I had been in a treatment facility for over 7 months; I was working closely with my sponsor and proficiently working through the 12 steps of the program. However there was a problem, I was not ready nor was I completely willing to admit that I was an addict and alcoholic; my mind was constantly playing tricks on me. Still unable to fully grasp my emotions, paralyzing fear and paranoia overtook me; it was still difficult for me to be entirely honest and transparent with my treatment team as well as my sponsor.

Still unable to copiously trust anyone I had not truly come to a place where I could say what was on my mind-that proved to be one of the major stumbling blocks in my recovery. I may have been physically sober all that time, however I wasn’t emotionally sober – there is a huge difference.

Emotional sobriety means consistently being honest and transparent with your sponsor and those around you….not being afraid to speak about the obsessive thoughts and ideas going through your mind. The only way to move through those compulsive feelings to drink or use is to discuss them with someone – it doesn’t have to be your sponsor. Calling a friend in the program, somebody you trust and feel comfortable conversing with….whatever it takes to change your thought process. Allowing yourself to become preoccupied with the notion of using tends to build up to a point where we can put ourselves in danger and then there may be no defense against taking that first drink or drug. Talking about what is actually rolling around in our heads can take the power away and the hold that those ideas have over us.

I truly believed that if I discussed what I was honestly thinking about, it would only set me back, maybe even get me in trouble. Little did I realize that confronting the issue would only help, especially in the long-term. Knowing that I could speak about my true frame of mind allowed me the ability to better approach life, particularly when I was struck with the phenomena of craving, or the need to act out in fit of resentment. All these tools that I have taken the time to apply this time around have given me a sense of confidence; the confidence to better combat the emotions and thoughts that could push me into a corner. Being cornered is never a good feeling especially when it comes to being an alcoholic or drug addict, nor is the sense that we are all alone.

I had felt alone my whole life even if I was surrounded by friends and family. Now armed with my newfound wisdom, I no longer felt that alone. I knew I had someone to call or talk to about my state of mind and they would understand me, not judge me.

I feel very safe visiting my family now; I have the support and tools to further aid me on my trip home. Emotional sobriety comes with the willingness to be aware… if and when you start moving into that “unsafe” place in your mind. Emotional sobriety means taking the right action, moving a muscle and changing a thought! This time around I have the confidence and the capability to stay sober, being present mind and body will allow me to enjoy the moments I share with my family.

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