7 Things I Learned in My First Year of Recovery
I didn’t get sober on purpose. I wasn’t crawling into an AA meeting saying I can’t stop drinking, my life is horrible, I can’t stop shaking and so on. However, I couldn’t stop drinking on my own and my life was horrible and I only got the shakes a few times during my drinking career. So there. It was after my 2nd DUI that my attorney suggested I get to an AA Meeting, so I went – like the good little solider I was because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. Even though at this juncture in my life I was falling apart – mentally, emotionally and physically. I needed a band-aid quickly.
After my first AA meeting, it hit me like a tequila shot thrown in my face – I could get sober and have a good life – especially if all those other people in the meetings could. Maybe I should give this thing a try. I had no other options.
I was so naïve to recovery, getting sober, AA, alcoholism – all of it. I knew nothing. All I knew was what I saw in the movies. Those movies that always made me feel a little bit superior to the lead character. Those movies that I couldn’t wait to see when they’d come out in the theatres as I had to make sure my life wasn’t being showcased in any of them. This way I could keep rationalizing how I was living my life. When I saw Leaving Las Vegas, I knew I wasn’t like him. When I saw When a Man loves a Woman, I knew I wasn’t like her. But when I saw 28 Days – I said, huh, I could be like her – but she wasn’t doing any blow – so I couldn’t relate to her story. I could relate to the drug movies though, but eh – I wasn’t that bad.- I was a recreational user whatever that is.
So when someone told me to read the Big Book, the first 164 pages, I did just that and I was flabbergasted at what I read. Did these guys have a microscope into my brain? Did they know what I was thinking and feeling? How is this possible? I was relieved to know that my disease was just that – a dis-ease. It wasn’t willpower and it wasn’t bad morals – I had a three-fold disease of mind, body and spirit. Ahhh….OK, this made much better sense.
I soon learned that the more sober I got the more I realized how bad of an Alcoholic I was. In my first few weeks I was angry, tired, irritated and annoyed. I was mad that my family could still drink. I was mad that they didn’t tell me what a royal fuck- up I was. I was mad that no one ever threw me into treatment. I was mad that others in my life weren’t leading me to the door of sobriety. I soon realized however that it wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility but my own. And if you, my Mom, or my employer told me I needed to get sober I would have said eff off – so I needed every last drink and drug I ingested so that I could understand that I wanted to get sober for me. No one else.
In working the twelve steps, with a Sponsor and the Big Book, I soon learned that I had to be accountable and responsible for my own actions. Sober actions. Sober words. I had to bite my tongue a lot. I wanted to tell others what I really thought of them or how I thought they should be living their lives, but I had to learn restraint. I had to be mature – which was a big adjustment and I had to get centered with being who I was at that moment.
The steps taught me a lot about myself and each step was an A-Ha moment for me. I started a relationship with a Higher Power, I started praying and meditating, I made amends, and I gave back with service work. Helping others is the best way for me to get out of my self, because I learned that I’m selfish and self-centered to my core. That one was a tough one to digest. Living life sober is all very easy actually – however, its just hard to do it each day, every day. I’m lazy and I just wanna skip around on the beach and have fun – but yeah, life doesn’t work that way.
Here is my quick list to share on what I learned in my First year sober:
- That Alcoholism is a disease.
- That other people want to help you – you just have to ask for it.
- That no one can make you get sober – you have to want it for yourself.
- That AA isn’t a cult.
- That I’m a responsible and accountable adult and my actions matter.
- That helping others makes me feel good.
- That living a life of recovery is a daily process.
That first year in sobriety taught me more about myself than I ever could have imaged. The last 10 years – well that’s a whole other story.