The truth is, your first year of sobriety may not be so amazing.
That is not quite true either. In fact, by the end of the first year of your recovery, if you are putting in the work, you will be flat out amazed at how your life has transformed.
However, even with this positive outcome, your first few weeks of sobriety are likely to feel a bit slow.
But everyone secretly knows that this is true anyway.why do you think addictions persist to begin with? Nobody really wants to sober up, nobody really wants the party to end. Becoming suddenly sober can be downright scary, because suddenly you have no outlet, no source of fun and excitement, no nothing.
Any drug addict or alcoholic who has gone through a week of detoxification will likely tell you that it is not what they would describe as being amazing. They will probably tell you that it is awful.
So let me level with you. The truth is, when you first start out in addiction recovery, you do not know how to have fun while sober, you don't really know how to cope with your emotions or deal with reality at all. You start out in recovery scrambling around, trying to find your footing, trying to find peace and happiness and serenity, and you are going to feel as if you are going nowhere fast.
That's just how it is. Getting drunk or high is comfortable and familiar. Being clean and sober is awkward, scary, and intimidating. There is simply no easy way around this.
The real truth is that you have to get through this awkward phase of early recovery before you can get to the amazing part.
But I am here to let you know the truth: There is an amazing part of recovery, and once it kicks in, you can expect to keep riding this awesome wave throughout the rest of your life, if you so choose.
The price that you pay for this is that you must dive into recovery head first, with the courage to step into the unknown, with a tiny bit of hope or faith that your life might be better one day.
That's all it takes. Just a tiny bit of willingness. If you are willing to give recovery a chance, then pick up the phone and call a rehab center immediately. Set up your intake at a rehab center right now and get the ball rolling. That is the one piece of willingness that you have to provide for yourself. After that it can all begin to unfold perfectly for you, so long as you are willing to do the next right thing.
You may be wondering, how does your first year of recovery become so amazing after you get past that initial bit of awkwardness in early recovery?
It will happen slowly at first, and you won't realize that things are getting so good until one day you will realize that the good part of recovery has crept up on you rather silently.
This is because personal growth, while you are going through it, is really tough and feels awful.
If personal growth felt good then everyone would be doing it all of the time. But it is quite rare. And that is because it is not comfortable. It doesn't feel good, it feels scary, and it makes us uncomfortable. We have to expose our fears, take advice, and humble ourselves. If you manage to attain personal growth without doing any of those things, then I can assure youyou haven't actually grown all that much.
Real personal growth and real gains in recovery are not feel good experiences while you are going through them.
Oh sure, after you have done all the hard work, you can look back with gratitude and be beaming with joy at the progress you have made. That is true.
But when you are starting out in recovery, and you have all of these difficult changes in front of you, and you are trying to piece together why you are such a mess and where you went so wrong in life?
That part is not fun. That part feels awkward and scary and uncomfortable.
And this is why the benefits of recovery are able to sneak up on you. This is why you will one day, later in your recovery, practically fall to your knees and start weeping with gratitude. You won't see the progress until it smacks you in the face.
For me, this manifested itself in the form of cravings and triggers.
When I first tried to get clean and sober, I was quite stubborn about my denial. I said to anyone who would listen I will never be happy in sobriety, because I am not like these other addicts and alcoholics, because I think about drinking or taking drugs all day, every day. It will never go away! And therefore I will be miserable forever in recovery. I should probably just off myself.
Poor me! And how unique, right? No other alcoholic or addict in history has ever had such powerful cravings, right?
Give me a break. But when I was going through the hard parts, I really believed those things. I really thought that I loved alcohol more than any other alcoholic ever had in history. I really thought I was that unique.
And then somewhere around the 90 day point of my recovery, I practically fell down to my knees in astonishment at the end of one day, when I realized that I had not thought of drinking or taking drugs all day long. Not a single craving. Not a single thought of relapse. And to top it all off, I was reasonably happy at the time.
This was a miracle to me, that I had gone a whole day without a single craving. And at only 3 months sober or so! It was, in my opinion, a miracle.
And so at that time I vowed to keep doing what I had been doing. Which was to listen to my peers in recovery, to listen to my sponsor and my therapist and my counselor, and to keep doing what they were telling me to do.
Because it was working. I was becoming clean and sober, I had lost the obsession and the compulsion, I wasn't walking around craving alcohol all day, and I was reasonably happy to boot.
This was a miracle. And quite frankly, when I say that a person can make their first year of recovery amazing, what I am really referring to is the fact that I went through this transformation in only about 3 or 4 months or so. What I describe above, the relief that I got from the obsession to drink and use drugs, that happened well before I hit 6 months sober. And that is amazing.
You can have this kind of amazing transformation as well, and there is really no secret to it. Yes, you have to surrender. Yes, you probably need to ask for help. You need to get out of your own way and start following directions. Simple, but not easy. Start doing what people tell you to do.
My way was to screw up my own life with alcohol and drugs. I had to stop listening to my way. I had to get out of my own head for a moment, and to do that, I had to agree to only take the advice of other people. Once I started doing that consistently, things started to get a whole lot better.
The secret to my amazing first year of recovery is that I had finally surrendered, to the point that I was willing to humble myself and take advice from other people. I hope you can do the same.
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