A Lesson I Wish I’d Known Before I Had Three Years of Sobriety

My sobriety birthday is near the end of the year. In December of 2018, I earned three years of sobriety. I got sober during a time that many addicts and alcoholics use the most – the holidays. It’s a time during which many of us feel overwhelmed. Between the expectations of others and our hopes for a good time, we often end up disappointed. And, we’ve learned to numb our disappointment with alcohol and drugs. Needless to reiterate, it’s not the most comfortable time to stop using.

My first months were filled with tears, pain, and confusion. Now, stick with me. I don’t wish to discourage you. In fact, I know you can do this. But, I can only be honest with my own experience. It. Was. Very. Difficult. The good news is that the first months passed quickly. And then, the first few years passed. I look back with three years of sobriety now to reflect upon a key lesson I have learned. I believe that sharing it with you can make your journey a bit easier.

I Am Not a Bad Person

If you’re an addict, you probably see why I’d have thought this. If not, let me just tell you that the feeling of shame consumes many of us. And, I was no different. I used to look in the mirror and abhor what was staring back at me. What was staring back, not who. In the days of my using, I didn’t feel like a person. In fact, I didn’t feel much at all. I was a void of sorts.

When I stopped drinking and using, a lot of the shame rose to the surface. The emotions and fears that I’d been numbing and avoiding were loud and in my face. My first way of understanding them was to believe I am a terrible person. No, not because I wanted to. It came naturally.

I look back today, though, and realize that person wasn’t bad. I wasn’t setting out to hurt myself or others. I was in pain and my addiction had led me to hurt not only myself but others. With three years of sobriety, I have done the hard work it takes to see things differently. I still have a ways to go, but I no longer feel that I am bad, only that I’ve done things that are harmful. My newer sense of identity is that I’m willing to make my errors right and to grow from them. It’s a much more peaceful way of seeing myself.

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