7 Things I Learned in My First Year of Recovery

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:

  1. That Alcoholism is a disease.
  2. That other people want to help you – you just have to ask for it.
  3. That no one can make you get sober – you have to want it for yourself.
  4. That AA isn’t a cult.
  5. That I’m a responsible and accountable adult and my actions matter.
  6. That helping others makes me feel good.
  7. 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.