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Staying Sober

 

One of the most valuable things I have learned in AA is that I have the ability to change my own perception. I can shift from a mindset of positivity and gratefulness rather than one of fear and pessimism. I have the ability to change the lens through which I view things daily. I do not have to let them bring me down and ruin my day and most importantly. I do not have to drink over these things because I know they will pass.

Most recently, my sobriety has been tested in way I did not foresee. My life has slowly begun to improve since I quit drinking and I have been able to show up for friends and family – and be a productive and dependable person. Things are starting to get better; I have started to repair some of the wreckage I created while I was drinking and felt a vast sense of relief and a freedom I have not felt in almost a decade.

I know the rough experiences in my life are a trigger for me, but I did not expect successes and the good times to set me off. When I am having a tough day, I know that I especially need a meeting, to pray, to write on it, to talk to my sponsor, etc.  But with things going well, I quickly neglected some of these crucial elements that form the foundation of my sobriety.

As a result, I found myself just as close to relapse as I was during the trying times, though I came about in a slightly different way. I had forgotten that when I was drinking, I did so for varying reasons. Sure, it was a way to deal with the constant flood of thoughts and emotions; it was a way to silence the inner voice of doubt, worry, guilt, and criticism in my head. Towards the end, alcohol was my solution to every problem I had, large or small. But what I had completely forgotten was that I would also use alcohol to celebrate. Now that I am experiencing small achievements in my life for the first time in sobriety, I have to be especially vigilant because these not only will summon the power of my disease, but also cause me to take it for granted.

I also notice that as I begin to experience the more tangible benefits of being sober, I put increased pressure on myself not to mess it up. Though at times it’s advantageous to hold myself to higher standard, it can also be a double-edged sword, provoking obsessive negative thoughts and perfectionism. There is nobody more critical of or harder on me than myself, and I can very easily fall back into old, self-destructive behaviors if I’m not careful.

Over the several months I have been sober now; my psyche gradually began to shift. In my first few days and months, I struggled to remain sober through the trying events in my life. Whatever the problem may be or its actual severity, my mind has long been able to turn a seemingly small hitch into a disaster – the end of the world.  In other words, I would “catastrophize” things. Or vice versa: I would often “minimize” larger, more pertinent problems to avoid them, such as my alcoholism when I was drinking.  Both ways of thinking can be equally destructive and effective in keeping me in my disease.

The beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous is that I am blessed with a daily solution and a reprieve from my disease and the actions that come with it. I simply have to revert back to the practices that helped me get sober in the first place. I have to attend more meetings, reread the Big Book, write more, work with my sponsor, and help others. I’ve done it before and have the blueprint; all I have to do is put it into action.

Getting sober was one of the most difficult things I have ever accomplished. That is not to say, however, that I have completed the process, or ever will. I have to continue to work on my sobriety every day. It was a huge undertaking to quit drinking initially and remain sober in the first few days, and at times I had to take it hour by hour, or even minute by minute. However, I cannot simply rest on my laurels and think that my problem is solved; that I am somehow cured of my alcoholism. The moment I take my sobriety for granted; that I forget what it was like and glorify the few good times I had in my disease, I am dangerously close to taking that first drink.

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A staff writer here at T4A, Roscoe enjoys investigating and writing on a variety of topics concerning addiction and mental health. His articles cover everything from the latest news stories to his own experiences with addiction and/or mental illness. He is a recovering alcoholic from New York, NY who is grateful not only to be sober, but also to have a life back. His interests include reading, writing, running, and anything involving the outdoors. Now that he is sober, he hopes to graduate college in the next few years with a degree in Business. He strives daily maintain a positive attitude and to work on himself; to make up for all of his past wrongdoings, and to give back by helping those who are struggling. Roscoe cherishes the opportunity to share his thoughts and ideas through the T4A blog, and welcomes any sort of feedback from readers!

Filed under: Addiction, Recovery · Tags: AA, big book, emotions, sobriety