My first year of sobriety was all about figuring out how to get through each day without putting a substance in my body.
I was sober, but I was bored out of my mind. I was unhappy and I was still evoking chaos in certain aspects of my life. My mind was still swirling with anxious thoughts about the future and regrets about the past.
I’d put the drugs down, and that’s great, but now what?
The second year of my sobriety was about cleaning up what was inside of me. It was about developing emotional sobriety.
Living in the Moment
Living in the moment is not as easy as it sounds. For me, living in the moment means I’m not constantly worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. I’m not spending hours lying awake at night reflecting on the bad things I have done in the past. Instead, I am taking a few minutes, whenever necessary, to take a few deep breathes and focus on the world around me as it is in that very moment.
The reality is, when I am living in the moment, life is easier. I am breathing, I am sober, I have a roof over my head, I have a job, I have friends, and everything is okay. Most of my problems are of my own making, and sitting in my head reflecting on what I could have done differently doesn’t help anybody. Accepting life as it comes to me allows me to be at peace.
Coping with My Emotions
I was definitely an emotional wreck while I was using drugs, but just because I put the drugs down didn’t mean my emotional state got any better. After all, I used drugs to cope with my emotions. The truth is when I got sober I had zero coping skills. Not only that, but without drugs to mask the way I felt, I began to experience intense emotions to the extreme.
I had to learn how to talk about the way I felt with the people in my support group. I began to do yoga and meditation to relieve anxiety. I learned that taking a walk outdoors can improve my mood significantly. Just because I get emotional doesn’t mean I have to act like a child and sulk in self-pity. Emotions are normal; that’s what makes us human! Learning how to deal with emotions, however, was a huge part of learning to grow up in sobriety.
Taking Responsibility for My Past
Let’s face it - I hurt a lot of people when I was using. In order to stay sober, I needed to put my big girl pants on and go make amends to the people I had harmed. If I wanted to stay miserable, I would have just shoved all the nasty things to the side and go on with my life, but I wanted to be happy.
Making amends isn’t just saying “I’m sorry.” I’ve mumbled those meaningless words more times than I can count, and usually, they didn’t mean a thing. Making amends looks more like getting vulnerable with the people I hurt. I must take responsibility for the ways I acted and the things I have done. Then, I must ask if there is anything I can do to make my wrongs right. If there is something I can do, it is absolutely essential that I keep my word and do it. At the very least, I show the person I have harmed that I have changed by practicing love, tolerance, and grace in all situations. I must demonstrate that I have changed for the better.
Developing Deep Bonds
Before getting sober, I only had fair weather friends; they were only there for me when I had something to offer them. The relationships I developed in the second year of my sobriety are unlike any other. We are uniquely bound to one another through our common experiences in and after addiction. We can learn from and support one another in all aspects of life.
These friends are there for me even if I mess up. They answer the phone when I call. They show up when they say they will. They listen when I speak and they genuinely care about what I have to say. They have taught me the true meaning of friendship and today I aim to be the same, supportive friend to newly sober addicts as these friends have been to me.