CELEBRATE RECOVERY: IT GOES A LITTLE SOMETHING LIKE THIS
Perhaps you weren't even sure who you really were anymore. You had become a drinking/using machine that only lived to satisfy its cravings for the moment, and then set out to do it all over again. Sober living seemed an impossible dream. Now you have joined with others in the bittersweet, painful process of peeling the onion layers that presently make up who you are. Welcome to sober living. First you have to peel off the user who pretended not to care about what was happening to their life as it fell apart and crumpled around their ankles.
Then you unpeel a layer in which you pretended not to care what you were doing to loved ones with your drinking/using. You let them leave and take the kids. You abandoned them and started a life without them. You disappeared and didn't contact them.
Now you are getting in touch with your feelings for the first time since before you picked up a mood-altering substance, which may put you back emotionally around age 12. As much as it hurts, it's a good thing--a healthy thing. You are coming to know your true self. It's all part of sober living. You are becoming a person who can hold up their head even when it means saying things like, "I'm scared. I'm lonely. I'm lost. I feel overwhelmed. I'm afraid I'll use again.
You decide to do what the program suggests and actually do something that doesn't even sound like anything you'd do: You ask for help. Better even than that, you ask a man or woman whose recovery program you admire to be your sponsor or temporary sponsor. Then you begin telling that person how you really feel on a regular basis. You are more honest with this person than you know how to be with yourself. You didn't think you were capable of honesty any longer, but you open up and get rid of a lot of old garbage you've been carrying around that might lead you to drinking/using again.
You learn that your sponsor really gets you. They understand at a level that only comes from having lived the same things themselves. They seem to intuitively know what the right thing is to suggest or say to you because they listen to the still, small voice within.
The result is that you are having what Oprah likes to call "Ah-ha" moments pretty much every day. You begin to feel as full as wonder as a five-year-old on Christmas morning. You are awestruck by the miracle of a second chance at life and what it means for you. You feel a thing called hope for the first time since you can't remember when. You wake up looking forward to the day ahead not cursing it. As they like to say around AA/NA tables: Instead of saying, "Oh God, it's morning," we say, "It's morning, thank you God."
One day at a time becomes another new day of growth and opportunity. You lose that sense of calendar pages being ripped off and tossed on the ground like some movie montage of time slipping by quickly without accomplishments, growth or change of any positive kind. You are growing and changing each day. The idea of using/drinking again becomes a nightmare to you. In fact, you do have nightmares about it now, and when you awake and realize it's only a dream and you're still clean and sober, you are so grateful and give thanks.
Your relationships begin to improve. Your significant other or spouse and you even start over and try to work things out after they see the change in you is for real this time and not just talk made up to try to manipulate them.
You are meeting people who did not go as far down the rabbit hole of addiction as you did. You are also meeting people who went much further down, and you marvel that they are even alive. Don't compare. There are always those who are better or worse off.
You can't believe how many new friends in the program you now have. You know most of these will be friends for a long, long time if not for life. These are the people who will be standing up for you at important times in your life and being there when it counts the most.
What also astounds you is that you are working regularly and bringing in enough money to support yourself and your family. You feel proud of your daily accomplishments and do the best job you know how to do. Perhaps you go back to school with your vision set on pursuing a dream that you've harbored as a secret fantasy since you were a kid. This is the time in your life when dreams become real. Be sure to dream new dreams, big dreams. They are no longer just grandiose using/drinking fantasies that never bear fruit
You can be proud of the person you have become one day at a time by working the twelve steps and going to A.A./N.A. meetings. If you already have a conscious contact with a power greater than yourself, you are way out ahead in the gift of sober and clean living. If you don't, hang on loosely and don't despair.
Another saying around the tables is that when you can't find your higher power, ask yourself who has moved. Wasn't it really you that moved? Your higher power has been standing with arms outstretched waiting for you to return all the time.
In sober living we get better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The important thing is that we all make it home to our freed selves together in sober living. Even if you have a hard day at staying sober and clean, you can break that one day into five or ten minute increments and you can hold on. And then one day you're sitting at an A.A./N.A. meeting, and a person newer to the program than you takes a seat. You can feel how nervous they are. You reach out your hand, introduce yourself, and share a little of what it was like for you when you were new. You can see the relief on the visitor's face as they listen. They can't believe someone else understands so well. Maybe you even offer to go out for coffee after the meeting..
You are doing 12th step work. There are many rewards built into 12th step work in sober living and most of them come instantly. You feel good about yourself. You feel like you are a worthwhile individual. You feel like you have an opportunity to give back some of what so many people generously gave to you. They told you to expect that reward in sober living. You give the new person your phone number. Maybe they ask you to be their temporary sponsor. You feel like your flying you are so high on life.
It's called sober living and you earned it. Even better days are coming. Your close relationships, even with your spouse or significant other, are improving. The bills are starting to get paid. You feel better physically and know your body likes sober living and is healing. Your head is beginning to clear. You can even read again. Your kids seem to like you for the first time in a long time. Isn't sober living grand? It's not all going to be smooth sailing. There still will be some rough seas. But you are on your way and you are only getting better from now on. Take heart. Just for today all is well.