Sobriety Isn’t For Sissies


Life is full of ups and downs, isn’t it?  I’m a firm believer that you have to suffer the downs in order to fully appreciate and enjoy the ups.  But sometimes, the downs really do get to me.  The last couple of weeks have been like that.  It’s one of those periods of time where it seems like it’s just one bad thing happening after another.  Without end.  There have been major things like dealing with the wreckage of my past (read: legal stuff), having a car in the shop and having to ask others for help getting here and there, being overwhelmed at work, and financial issues. And then there have been small things like the washing machine overflowing, our wi-fi not working right, not making it to as many meetings as I like to, and stepping in dog poop.  Twice.  In the same day.  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Yesterday though, things started to look up.  I dealt with my wreckage, and things turned out okay, the part for our car came in and our mechanic got it finished up today, I found out that I get to hire a part-time employee to help me, and a wonderful family member helped us out financially.  Even the small stuff has gotten better – we got a new washing machine, I figured out the best spot in the house for wi-fi reception, and I have asked for rides to meetings instead of sitting at home pouting.  And the dog poop?  Well, it’s so far so good today, but it’s hard to be sure…chihuahuas are troublesome (but loveable).

When I was drinking, there is no way that I would’ve been able to stay sober for any of what has happened recently.  Any one of the things I mentioned earlier (even the poop!) would’ve sent me straight to a bottle. Here’s the thing, I was able to trudge through the icky stuff, with only one crying meltdown, which my sponsor mercifully said was just me using my release valve to relieve the pressure, because of a couple of key things.

My first lifesaver was the knowledge that all of these situations and the negative feelings that I was having about them would pass.  Although at the time, actually having to feel my emotions was pretty damn hard.  I’m only at almost eight months sober, so feeling negative emotions does not come easily.  It’s nearly excruciating to just have to sit in them, without stuffing them, or numbing myself.  Knowing, intellectually, that my situation (and mood) would change eventually, really wasn’t an emotional comfort at the time.  I was feeling hopeless, like I would be stuck in chaos forever.  But somewhere, down deep, I knew that things would get better, as long as I put one foot in front of the other and tried to do the next right thing, no matter how hard.

That leads me to the second thing that saved me.  Sobriety.  I would never have come out on the other side of this, the good, positive, joyous side, if I had gotten drunk.  Not only would I not have been able to deal with those things, I would’ve created even more wreckage!  It would’ve been like the snowball rolling down the hill you see in cartoons.  It would keep getting bigger and bigger, gaining speed as it got closer and closer to running me over.  I know that bad things are going to happen, even in sobriety, but as long as I don’t drink, I can avoid the snowball.

So today, I am really grateful that things are on the upswing and that I was able to weather the last couple of weeks.  One of the things that I try to remember when uncomfortable feelings come up is something that I heard in treatment, “our emotions won’t kill us, but our addiction will.”  Those words have given me comfort during times of emotional stress and upheaval.  When I think about how I felt on Sunday, during my crying jag, I’m so glad that I was able to remember that my emotions were not something that would cause my world to end.  Another thing I remembered was that, when I am in that state, I can’t always believe what I think.  My hopeless and defeatist thoughts aren’t reality.  My alcoholic brain tells me that those feelings are true, when in fact, a lot of times, they aren’t.  But while I may not always be able to change the way I feel about a situation,  I can accept that sometimes my feelings might not be quite accurate, and that perhaps I should try to change my perspective.  Sometimes it works.


I guess what I am getting at with all this, is that sobriety isn’t for sissies.  See, in the beginning, I thought that when I got sober, life would get better.  It didn’t.  Bad things continue to happen, and life continues to be challenging.  What did get better, though, is me.  I bounce back quicker from disappointments, I allow myself to feel, I talk about things with others, I live pretty darn transparently.  It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s hard a lot of the time, but it’s always better than it was when I was drunk.  I experience so much more joy and happiness now, even in the midst of life’s messes.  Being sober doesn’t take away the trials and tribulations, but it equips me to be able to handle them.

7 thoughts on “Sobriety Isn’t For Sissies

  1. Ha, when it rains, it pours, doesn’t it? You read my mind though– that this too shall pass. But man, the sitting and the waiting and the *feeling*… Pshew, you’re right! It ain’t for sissies.

    I finished a book last night and one of the lines I highlighted was:

    “I’ve always believed clear-eyed sobriety was for the harder hearted.”

    I don’t know that I believe that, but it does take courage and perseverance and faith. But once you make it through, and you start reaping the rewards of living in the moment, it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. And that’s a feeling I hope will never pass. 😉

    1. “I’ve always believed clear-eyed sobriety was for the harder hearted.”

      Hmm. I like to think that clear-eyed sobriety is for the survivors, not necessarily hard-hearted. Those of us that have made it to this side of drinking had to be pretty tough, or we never would’ve made it. I think, though, that there is much strength in weakness. Once we admit our powerlessness and surrender to it (weakness, right?), then we have a chance to heal.
      And boy, I hope it never passes too! 🙂

  2. We are often portrayed as weak-willed and easily giving into anything and everything without conscious. Sure, when it comes to alcohol or whatever our addiction is, that can be true to an extent. But in fact we are quite resilient (thanks Karen for that word) when it comes to not only dealing with our alcoholism, but in life in general. We have learned to live life and to respond to life in a manner that requires strength (inner and from our HP) and a lot of introspection and perspective shifts. We have that transparency you talk about. We start from being the basement of Emotional Intelligence to a higher level of EI. We learn to navigate so much that others may not have the tools to do so themselves. I think that what you say is bang on – we are so different than we used to be. Recovery rates aren’t very high, so to be in a position where I am recovered…man, am I ever grateful.

    Thank you for this 🙂


    1. I always thought of myself as weak. Weak because I stayed in an abusive marriage, weak because I ‘allowed’ myself to get into situations where I was taken advantage of, weak because I never learned how to say no or stand up for myself, weak because I couldn’t put the bottle down. Now I see things differently. I see myself as someone that had to drag her guts behind her for a long, long time. And that is not weak. It’s amazingly strong, if you ask me! I find that a lot of the people I know in AA are like that. We are the ones that have made it to the other side, or at least we’re making our way. It sure is nice to not have to drag all those guts around anymore!
      Thanks Paul. Your comments mean a lot to me.

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