When I first got sober, I was riding on this high of “This is awesome! I am changing my life for the better! I am finally doing it!” But it wasn’t long before that feeling wore off, and I was slapped in the face by the reality of “This is your life now, and you chose to get rid of the things that you were using to cope with it!” This was really hard for me to adjust to, and honestly, it is still something that is hard to accept, but that is exactly why I am writing: Recovery did not make my life any easier… but it did make it worth it.
When I first started sharing my story with the world, I was under this false impression that I needed to glorify the newly sober life I was living and prove how much better it was. Don’t get me wrong; I am grateful for every day that I have been able to steer clear of my vices, but I no longer feel the need to convince others that life is easier because of it. Making that claim would be a lie. If recovery were easy, we wouldn’t need to look for proof of that within someone else’s story. One of the hardest parts of recovery is accepting that you are now going to have to feel all the things you were trying to suppress with drinking, drugging or whatever you used as a form of escape from yourself.
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If you are anything like me, the beginning of your recovery might be filled with reading as many articles on sobriety as you can find, attending meetings so you can surround yourself with people who understand, and slowly embracing the idea that you can do this one day at a time. It was scary owning up to the truth of my situation, and coming to terms with the fact that I could not live my life the same as those who seemed to have a grasp on the whole moderation thing. It was hard feeling like I had to put on this front to make other people comfortable around me, instead of just saying, “You know what? Recovery is hard every single day, but what’s important is that I am doing it! I am recovering!” As time went on, I found that I was always looking for a reason to stay in recovery, when all I needed was the belief that it would be worthy of my continuous pursuit, because recovery is just that — worth it.
Recovery has given me my life back, the good and the bad — the feelings that a human is supposed to experience. It forced me to start showing up for life and learning how to cope with whatever “showing up” may entail. These things take time; I’m two years into my recovery, and I still face certain challenges, but there is a sense of pride in making it to the other side of an obstacle without needing drugs or alcohol to get there. Recovery is a muscle, something that gets stronger and stronger the more you work it and challenge yourself to build from that.
When it comes to recovery, at first I feared what I had to lose when choosing this way of life. I was making the mistake of thinking there was something to lose in the first place. With recovery, all you have is something to gain. Sure, you may lose certain “friends,” and you may have to stop going to certain places, but in the end, we must do what is best for us, and recovery is the only way to get there. Anything new is going to be uncomfortable, and anything worth it is going to be hard. Nobody ever said recovery was going to be easy … but ask anybody in recovery, and I guarantee they will tell you that it is worth it.