Do You Know What To Expect From Sobriety?
While surfing the web a couple days ago, I stumbled upon something interesting.
On The Fix, (awesome site, by the way – check it out), Boozemusings discusses how sobriety isn’t always as outstanding as everyone says it is, tells us what pitfalls to look out for, and shows us what to really expect.
I’ll admit, this made me feel a little awkward.
As a sobriety blogger, I try to be as transparent as possible.
My experience with sobriety (this time) has been mostly positive, and I think my writing reflects that.
But after reading this post, I wonder if overly-enthusiastic sober warriors such as myself paint too-rosy portraits of the recovery process.
And if, by extension, that is doing a disservice to the community at large.
In this post, I want to answer a question that I hadn’t considered until reading Boozemusings’ article: Is sobriety really as good as everyone says it is?
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Is sobriety really as good as everyone says it is?
The short answer: Maybe.
Let me explain.
This is just my opinion so a) feel free to disagree and b) if you do, please don’t rip me a new one. But I truly believe your experience of sobriety will vary depending on your perception of alcohol.
Don’t get me wrong – perception isn’t the only thing that matters. But it’s important.
For example, if you feel those who drink moderately are the lucky ones, wish you could just be different, and generally feel like you’re missing out on life because you can’t drink, your experience may not be so positive.
If, on the other hand, you perceive alcohol as something unpleasant, no longer feel jealous of those who drink without ill consequence, and instead feel like you don’t want to drink, things change.
A parallel comparison
You can still be successful in sobriety, know on a logical, practical level that your life is better without the effects of alcohol, and simultaneously believe things are better on the other side.
Let me draw a parallel comparison. Let’s compare sobriety to a high-paying, yet stressful job.
You like the money, the perks, and benefits. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you’re proud of your accomplishments. You realize that your life would be far worse on a day to day basis if you couldn’t afford to keep a nice roof over your head, put healthy food on the table, or pay your bills, but you still dread going to work every day.
This is how sobriety feels when you perceive a life with alcohol as the true prize.
You do the work, abstain from the drink. You celebrate your milestones and acknowledge that yes… life is better without hangovers. Sure, you’re saving money and finding new hobbies. True, your health is a little better, too.
On paper it’s great, but deep down inside sobriety is nothing more than a high-paying job that you hate. You do it to get by, you enjoy the most obvious benefits from it, but if you had it your way, you’d rather be doing something different.
Sobriety isn’t always great, regardless
It’s so important to understand, though, that sobriety isn’t always great for anyone – nothing is.
Life really isn’t supposed to be that way. Even the best things in life aren’t always perfect. Many new mothers out there can attest to that!
I like the analogy of motherhood because your new baby is a blessing. You love the little nugget to pieces and can’t imagine your life without him, but it’s hard.
There are good days and there are bad days. But even on your worst day, you wouldn’t trade him for the world.
With sobriety, you’ve removed something from your life and you’ll never get it back. Perhaps that something helped you cope, relax or lose your inhibitions.
In early sobriety, especially, before you’ve gotten the chance to find your substitutes, negative aspects of recovery are particularly acute. It’s just not all that great.
Why do people make it seem overly positive online?
Online accounts of sobriety, especially blogs, are unique. Whether they are of the “follow my journey” sort or the “I got clean, you can too” sort, the common thread is a desire to abstain from alcohol.
To start a blog on such a topic in the first place already suggests you lean more positively toward it. Even when you discuss some of the more negative aspects of sobriety, you still want it and overall make a choice to focus on the benefits. Many people start blogs and write about sobriety in an effort to help them stay accountable. What good would it do to go on and on ad nauseum about how awful your new life is? It’s just different.
I don’t think it’s intentional. It just comes with the territory.
How to shift your perception
Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I made several sobriety attempts during the nearly two decades dealing with alcoholism, so I understand how many people can say no… sobriety really isn’t that good.
During those times I didn’t really enjoy or prefer a life without alcohol. I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I was jealous of those who could drink normally, felt boring, irritated and secretly hoped I could eventually learn to moderate. Sobriety was NOT FUN.
This go-round is very different. During my recent experiment going 100 days without alcohol, things changed for me.
I did a lot of self-work and became introspective. I made some sweeping changes that I was too uncomfortable to make previously.
My whole life and lifestyle are different, and I couldn’t have imagined a year ago that I’d be thriving and enjoying sobriety to this degree, but it’s real.
This post isn’t meant to be instructive, and honestly what works for me may not even work for you.
In relating my personal experience of how I shifted my perspective, all I can say over and over is that I had to work really flippin’ hard to create a life that excites me more than alcohol.
It may sound cliché or like “yeah right”, but no, that’s really it. That’s really what did it for me.
Minimizing or eliminating things that don’t make me happy while sober and maximizing the things that I truly enjoy – and being willing to stop at nothing to get there – worked.
So, for me, today, my personal answer to Is Sobriety Really As Good As Everyone Says It Is?, is a resounding YES!
Sobriety Really Is As Good As Everyone Says It Is
No, that doesn’t mean bad days don’t come. It doesn’t even mean you don’t sometimes miss certain aspects of the “good ole’ days”.
What it means is that it becomes more than just logic and rational thinking. It’s more than just a short list of pros and a longer list of cons, where you must convince yourself that you’re making the right choice.
It becomes something that resonates with you and shakes you to your core.
It’s not a high-paying, stressful job that you’re only in for the money and insurance benefits. Instead, it’s the passionate hobby that you’d do for free… it just so happens that the payout is even larger than you ever imagined possible.
I feel a little awkward with such a strong opinion piece as this. I’m only one person with a limited viewpoint and I’m aware that the DIY approach to recovery I’ve taken is unpopular.
But as I stated before, my goal in blogging about this topic is to be open and transparent in hopes that some part of my experience and jour
ney resonates with others.
If you have a different perspective or experience, I’d love to hear it and engage in healthy discussion. Please feel free to share your thoughts!
p.s. I created a printabl
e worksheet to help you figure out how to create a life that you REALLY want.
It gets you to consider the underlying reasons for why you drink, figure out what you are doing that doesn’t excite you without alcohol, and helps you find exciting ways to restructure your life.
Join the Sober Alley community to gain access to the worksheet plus all our other sobriety resources.