I have now been sober for 4 years! It feels like a lifetime ago, really more like another person who was the practicing alcoholic. One of the things that suffered the most from my using was my memory. I write things down, lots of lists. I take a lot of pictures. No, they aren’t for likes, they are for my poor pitiful memory. This blog helps, too. I have read that your brain does repair, but slowly in some areas. I don’t remember much of who I used to be, which I am thankful for. I know my addiction changed who I was at that time and I did some things I would be more sad about if I could actually remember them.
I mostly regret the lost/wasted time. People tell me to not think of it that way, that it was all bad. I know it wasn’t all bad. I know good came out of it all, but when you think back on over a decade that I could have done SO much more with, it is hard to swallow. In perspective though, I am glad I am not dead or in prison, because it is truly a miracle that neither of those things happened. Not exaggerating.
I am sober now and have no desire to drink again, but that is today. I know that this is a lifelong thing. I know there is no cure. I also know that there is so much work to be done on my serenity and that addiction still lives in my brain. At some point in my using, I reprogrammed my brain. There is now a part of my brain that functions on it’s own. It gets stuck on things. It is an actual chemical reaction to addicting substances/feelings that happen. My brain craves things that, rationally, I know I can’t handle. But addiction isn’t rational.
Read this study to understand further, or really at all.
Understanding addiction is very hard, because even the people who have the disease of addiction and a decent amount of time in sobriety don’t understand it. Have you ever seen the movie The Mist? No? Well, you aren’t alone. It is about this mist that settles over a town and people start disappearing into it. They don’t see that there are monsters in it until later in the movie.
To me, that is like addiction. 23 million Americans, 1 in 10, get sucked into this mist. At first, they don’t understand what is happening. Then, they see the monster that is addiction. Once you start to see the monsters, it is too late to fix without help, in my opinion. You need someone to help get you out of that grasp. I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am just an addict in recovery. I know that I would not be sober without help. This does not make me weak or lesser of a person. This makes me strong for recognizing a need for survival and working to obtain and then maintain that need.
It is heartbreaking to hear people still speak so ignorantly of this disease. I know that this is not my fault and that I should not think less of myself for being in recovery, but that is how society portrays my disease. I don’t consider myself sick any longer, I am not suffering. Addiction has forced me to look into myself and my purpose here on Earth. I have to have constant reevaluation of my decisions so that I know I am always in control of them. I am forced to reach a higher plain of understanding if I want to truly feel peace and contentment. I am not sure people outside of addiction, ever really get that opportunity. So, 4 years later, I am grateful for my disease. I am grateful for who it is forcing me to be. I am grateful that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am only here because Jesus loves me. That is it. I have to depend on the love of Christ or I die. Daily this happens.
I have also found ways to really be present in life. I strive to make everything authentic and real. I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally present for life now. I want to really feel things. This can be very painful at times. It hurts to feel everything. I laugh when I see people post pictures about “needing a drink” because of a long day or difficult time. I laugh because I am assuming that they don’t know what needing a drink means. They don’t know shakes or vomiting or chills and fever because they need a drink. I also don’t get to numb a hard day or hurt feelings, I have to work through them. I have to get past it somehow.
A good time to me is about the people I am with and the activities I participate in. It isn’t about losing myself in a substance. I have to have the good time, I have to choose the emotion in the situation. I get comments often on all the going and doing we do in life. It is hard to explain, but I need it. I crave life. I want to experience everything. I have an awareness now and exploring it seems necessary. I still feel like I am discovering myself and life. I really don’t want to lose that feeling.
I am finding out that my addiction manifests itself in other ways as time goes on. I have to be on constant guard of myself so that I do not get sucked back in to some other form of addiction. It feels like I can’t breathe when my addiction starts to appear again. It almost feels like a physical choking, like something sitting on my chest and I know something has to change. I know I have to go to my Lord in prayer and figure out what is wrong.
To help with this I know I need to surround myself with other addicts in recovery. I am thankful that I have a support group that I can contact and they will be there. Just recently I had to reach out to a friend. She told me how ridiculous I was being and that I needed to get to an AA meeting ASAP. She was right. You need people that can say those things to you in love. I also love following people on social media in recovery. I love knowing I am not alone. There was a study done on hashtags on Instagram and I am far from alone. Take a look at Socially #Sober to see all the graphs and charts. Pretty cool stuff. I love being out and proud about my sobriety. I do it to help others and I do it to stay sober. I openly talk about my sobriety because I know there are people who need to know they aren’t alone and that we understand. We do. We get it. I would love to connect with you and support you in your recovery! Please message me or friend me! I can’t wait to see where my sobriety takes me in the next 4 to 40 years! It only gets better!