I feel humble and fortunate to be able to reflect on my second-year alcohol-free. In some way, I’m in awe because I think that only now the doors are slowly opening to the possibility of never drinking again. If I could only describe in words how much effort it took to reach this milestone. Some days, hours, minutes and seconds I was waging a war of survival. Crippled by anxiety, panic attacks and fear of dying I fought against every feeling and thought, often experiencing heart palpitations leaving my whole body shaking like a leaf.
Reflecting on all of the horrors brings back intense feelings, but at the same time, I consciously discover the hidden strength and motivation to continue, for the first time there is no regret. I am no longer playing a victim. I don’t accept excuses to get drunk. I am scared, frustrated, bored and chronically trying to put myself to sleep so I can escape.
But I think its okay.
To cry and see no hope of ever being comfortable in your own skin.
Sobriety is like being hit by a ton of bricks, it hurts, following the massive confusion but yet you feel so happy to be alive.
Cravings of the future
One thing I have noticed is that I no longer obsess about drinking or have any real desires compared to the first year sober when I always had to put with the thoughts of not drinking. Alcohol appeal is quietly fading away; I did not expect that! Now it makes sense when people say that those who stay sober for over five years have only a little chance of relapsing.
The first year was all about numbers. Sadly I spent more time trying to prove how good sobriety is instead of feeling joy in things, partially I think it was due to my detox and irritability. I felt numbness and total lack of interest, all I wanted is to get drunk. That’s depressing, don’t you think?
Honestly, at some point, I just gave up on the idea of ever having my cravings to subside. I was preparing to live with them, if that is what it takes to be sober and then it hit me: sobriety isn’t avoiding the pain, it’s learning how to live with it. I will never be cured or healed. I need to stop pretending and exaggerating how great is to be sober and instead look for joy in my daily life.
Here is the list of joys that year two brought me:
1. No more facing consiquences of active drinking. I no longer have to deal with the shame of the last nights drinking. There is no headache, dry mouth, vomiting, not knowing what stupid text I have sent, calling off work, drunk injuries or embarrassing red face and constant sweating.
2. Saved 10k. Before alcohol took me from me I was always a saver type of person, this quality has come back in sobriety, especially when I don’t have to constantly spend my money in the liquor store or bars on booze. I am poor, but due to living arrangements and my passion for having something saved up for the rainy day I was able to reach this figure in a year.
3. Bought a new car with 0 miles. My old car was falling apart. It would cause a lot of stress in my daily life not knowing if I make it to work or how many thousands this time I will need to shed for repairs. It needed so many repairs that it wasn’t worthed anymore. While I was drinking, I never cared and did not want to spend money on it since my addiction always came first. I am glad I got a new one, it’s not a popular brand, more economy style but I love it. No more worries and I know no one flooded or had an accident with it plus the price was deliciously under 16k with all the registration, and I forgot to mention it has 100k warranty.
4. New job with healthcare insurance. Unfortunately, I was fired from my old job which is a bit crazy given the fact that later they wanted me to come back, that just shows the true level of management. I will not lie that losing the job during the first year of sobriety was unbelievable stressful; one might say a perfect opportunity to play a victim and get drunk! Luckily when life gave me bunch of lemons I didn’t hold back and made lots of lemonade, within a week I had an interview with my current job and was hired shortly after with health care benefits( it has saved me thousands so far since I had multiple panic attacks and other stuff that left me going to emergency room. BTW this is my first time having health insurance, its pretty dope having the ability to pay!) This experience thought me that I will always be okay job wise as longest I put my sobriety first. There always be low paying jobs for sober people like me.
5. Samsung Galaxy S8. I always thought owning an expensive phone is stupid. I cant describe how much joy this phone brings me: from games to watching Netflix, it helps with boredom situations on a daily basis. Given the fact how much I am using it and that I won’t be buying any expensive phone anytime soon it pays itself entertainment wise. I feel more like a human…
6. 60-gallon freshwater aquarium. It’s my hobby that requires monthly algae scrub. I am still in the process of acquiring Co2 system for the plants before I buy them. Trying to be responsible with my money and not to overspend but for the first time, I actually want something besides drinking. I had 20-gallon aquarium before, so I am not new to this hobby.
7. Gaming pc. This was a long time coming but never had money to buy it. I am a huge gamer although just play a few game, mostly bf1, so much fun, sometimes too much. Due to not spending money on booze, I was able to get new pc that can max out the graphics settings instead of trying to play on below lower settings. This pc will last me for upcoming 5-6 years plus its VR capable so some possibilities for upgrades.
8. Repainted my living space. White is flavorless color. This was a project under $100 that changed the way I feel when I get home from work. Its much more relaxing and nicer plus I rearranged furniture (that’s free!) for the new feel. I never cared before, no wonder I felt like shit. Little things like that can surely bring a fresh breath of air into a dull, depressing recovery life.
9. Lava lamp. This was an unexpected purchase that brings me so much joy for some reason. I love it as a night lamp. There is something so satisfying about watching gooey substance floating back and forth and the way it merges. Orgasmic! Relaxing! It really sticks to a daily routine.
10. Spacing out. I have noticed I space out more often. A huge benefit that makes me less bored and more chilled. I guess this is the answer to my question how sober people deal with so much free time. When the body is not under stress and not constantly going through withdrawals, it relaxes. You get lost in time. I have also noticed that it helps when I stop grasping, for example, wanting or wishing for the time to pass by faster in certain situations. Spacing out is becoming a more prominent part of my recovery life as I learn more about it, it makes my routine and life bearable where I no longer need to rely on alcohol to keep me sedated.
One thing for sure
Sobriety is earned. The grass is always greener on another side.
Its suddenly gloomy all around me out of nowhere. I feel lost, hopeless and the pinchy worrying feeling with sadness takes over.
Just moments ago, back from my memories I was tasting that beer.
Excilaration was rushing through my body and first time in two years I felt what I have been missing. Not giving a fuck.
When looking back, I cherish the hardest moments of sobriety. I cant make a fucking list out of that. When I have cravings, I get scared that if I mess up, I will break the trust bond with myself. I feel this year been like working with clay, my hands trying to sculpt something but I don’t know what yet. Old me was so crushed, new me too hopeful of what sobriety will be. I have to buy time, so when December 15 comes I can recommit to another year sober.