There is a saying around Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meeting rooms: Your worst day sober is better than your best day high and/or drunk. As long as you are keeping the plug in the jug one day at a time, your sober living will absolutely get better or we will refund your misery.  When you first entered the church basements of A.A./N.A. you only knew that you had hit rock bottom. You felt unsure of yourself.

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.


Deanne said...

It is so hard for me to grasp this pain that lives within someone that makes them want to numb themselves in this way. i could grasp it with my father but have come to admire people who can lift themselves out of this darkness. I am happy that you are one of them and I am proud to call you my friend. I love you and miss you! I hope all is well!
Love and light, Deanne

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pascal said...

I think that acure i an excellent thing and often the only way to climb up out of the darkness. But I think alcohol is always present in the mind. Its only love of god who can save people. I know that because I had problems with alcohol, but without violence.
It's only since I have had an AVC that my mind have completly changed. It seems like if I had seen God. I want talk about it in my blog (my life). But I have just began and it's difficult to me to write about it.
I shall describe my AVC before.
Ou are right to write about alcohol.
Sorry for my bad english.

Anonymous said...

I must say, there was very little useful information in this post, but I did learn a few things. Thanks.
No matter how you slice it, life is full of random shit like this. Better get used to it.
How come some websites, like yours, appear all the way on the bottom of ranks with such engaging content?
I'm a little bit eccentric, and sometimes my comments get removed. I just want to add some spark.

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost

MsRefusenik said...

So anonymous, you can sum up everything you've learned about life in three words from the flinty, mean and cynical poet, who, BTW, was the abused son of an abusive alcoholic. He also said, "Education is hanging around until you've caught on." So I thank you for adding the spark, and I do hope you come back to read "very little useful information ...but you learned something" and more of my "random shit," and, thank you, my "engaging content."

I am quite a fan of mean old Mr. Frost and borrowed from him not long ago in tribute:

The Street Not Taken, by MsRefusenik (with apologies to R. Frost)

Two streets forked in a bad slum.
I didn't want to go down either one.
I stood there trying not to look too dumb.
As far as I could see all was scum.
If only I had carried a big gun.

I chose the one without the dead rat,
Too late, I saw it had all the crack dealers.
When they spoke to me I sure didn't chat.
Could the other have been where it was at?
Next time, I vowed, I'll first put out some feelers.

I had a choice and I chose Crack Lane.
No wonder I didn't see many people walking here.
If I ever make this trip again I'll take a plane.
Or maybe I could hire me an Andy Frain.
I won't come back because I feel too much fear.

I'll be home soon and here I come.
The guys in the bar will buy me a drink.
Two streets forked in a bad slum,
And I ran before I knew what from.
It very nearly sent me over the brink.

Thanks for reading.