5 Things I Wish I’d Been Told in Early Sobriety

by Beth Leipholtz |

For most people, the beginning of sobriety can be a scary and unsettling time. By changing one thing, eliminating alcohol, numerous other aspects of your life also change. You suddenly may feel as if you’ve been picked up and dropped back into a life that isn’t your own, which is normal. Sobriety takes some adjusting to.

There are certain things I wish I had been told right away in sobriety, rather than coming to realize them on my own months later. If I had heard some of these words, I may have thought of recovery in a different, more positive light at the beginning. Here are just a few things I wish I had been told:

1. “It will get harder before it gets easier.”

At the beginning of sobriety, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever feel at ease as a person in recovery. It felt like things just kept getting more and more complicated rather than having things start to improve. Like many people who get sober, I had a lot to work through in terms of self-awareness and my relationships. Breaking those things down meant facing some difficult conversations. Because of this, sobriety got harder before it got easier. After a couple really difficult weeks, however, I found that life started to improve. When you push your way through the most difficult parts of life, things eventually begin to look up again. Sure, recovery still ebbs and flows. Some days are harder than others, but for the most part, it’s gotten easier to be a person living a sober life.

2. “You are far from alone.”

When you get sober, especially if you get sober young, it can be isolating. It may feel as if everyone in your life takes part in social activities that revolve around alcohol, making you feel as if you are the only person who can’t take part in that normalcy. I know I felt this way often. The truth is that there are many people like you out there if you search hard enough. The Internet is an amazing tool for connecting with other people in recovery. There are Facebook groups, chatrooms, websites, and many other places you can utilize in order to find people you connect with and who understand you. Once you find these people, you will feel so much less alone.

3. “Stop being ashamed of the past, and start being proud of the present.”

Sign Saying Recovery And Sobriety Lay Just AheadI spent the first few weeks of sobriety in a funk. I was upset with myself and felt as if I disappointed all the people in my life with my drinking habits. I felt like a failure, and I fixated on this fact, which just made it all the more consuming. I think this is often the case for people who are freshly sober. Rather than being proud of themselves for taking that step, they focus on what they’ve done wrong in the past and let feelings of shame take over. The truth is that someone who is sober has a lot to be proud of because they took that step to better their life. If they focus on that pride rather than the shame, they can start to move forward.

4. “It’s OK not to be OK.”

When drinking, I always tried to be OK. I didn’t like to fall apart or show weakness. I thought it made me a lesser person. But the truth is that everyone has those days. Sometimes we need to fall apart in order to become more productive and stable. It can be difficult to come to terms with this idea, but once you do, you’ll be glad you did. There is something freeing about being OK with feeling what you feel and expressing that. You no longer have to hide parts of yourself or pretend to be a person you are not. Everyone has days where they just aren’t OK and that doesn’t make them a failure. It won’t make you one, either.

5. “Your life will get so full.”

To be honest, I thought my life was over when I got sober. At the very least, I thought it was going to be unenjoyable forever. The truth is that life today is so much fuller than it ever was when I was drinking. Being fully present for life and being able to open myself up to the people in my life has provided so many opportunities for growth that I would never have had if I’d still been drinking. Life has a way of falling into place if you just trust the process, and that’s the case when it comes to sobriety and recovery.

Of course, these words may not bring comfort to everyone, and that’s OK. Each person in recovery is different, and each situation is unique. I’d have saved myself some time and trouble if I had taken words like these to heart and had some faith. If you’re struggling in early sobriety, just know that things do get better with time.

Photo of Beth Leipholtz

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