Staying Sober After Two Years
It’s been a while since I’ve written on the topic “How Do I Personally Stay Sober.” I question, as I’m sure most sober bloggers have at one point or another, if there is an end point for a blog that started as a journal on what life looks like as you get sober. Because, after a while, THANK GOD, life gets pretty mainstream. So then what? Does the blog change direction, and head off into a non-recovery sphere? Does the blog start rehashing? Or does the blog meander off into retirement?
I don’t have the answers to those deep, soul-searching questions, but I do know this: recovery does not have a graduation date. There is no point in time where I cross a finish line, wipe my brow, and say “great job on that sobriety thing” to myself. I need to hone and improve the exercise “muscles” I’ve been developing for the past two years, and I need to do it for the rest of my life.
Having said that, day-to-day life in my third year of recovery looks very different from day-to-day life in my second year, which looked very, VERY different from life in my first few months of recovery, so I thought I’d write about what I’ve held on to, what I’ve let go of, and what I’ve modified within the last two years of recovery.
- Four things, every day: pray, go to a meeting, talk to another in recovery, not ingest a mind-altering substance
- Started a blog, and wrote at least 5 days a week, which helped to clear my head, and helped connect me with still others in recovery
- Found a sponsor who took me through the 12 steps of recovery
- Two out of the four daily activities done daily (praying and not ingesting mind-altering substances); meetings attended, but not daily, speaking to others, but not daily
- Blog posting went down from 5 days a week to 4, then 3 days per week
- Made myself available to sponsor people within the 12-step program
I will not be so presumptuous as to put bullet points for year three, as I am not even two months into it, but I can say that I am currently in a state that has me at my most serene about my sobriety thus far in the journey. That is not to say that I will not get up from this computer and be hit with something that challenges me, but what has me feeling peaceful, feeling confident, is the awareness that sobriety is my first priority. And it is in that internal commitment that I find the confidence to say I will go to bed sober tonight.
I used to worry that my decline in meeting attendance from year one to present day is a slow descent back into addiction. Or that when I do attend a meeting, and someone talks about doing the 4th step inventory for the third time, I worry that I am not as committed to sobriety as I should be. What’s nice is that I have an answer, a response to those negative thoughts, that calms me in an instant. Wait, let me go a step further back: what’s nice is that I have those concerns at all! The fact that I’m doing mental pulse checks is leaps and bounds more advanced than my previous, let-things-happen-and-then-react-to-them-emotionally-and-inappropriately, way of dealing with life that I once employed.
So what do I do, day to day, that has me confident in my sobriety? For sure, the one thing I have maintained and developed is my relationship with a Higher Power. Call it a habit, call it superstitious, but my day does not feel like it has started right unless I get down on my knees and thank Him for all the past sober days, and ask Him for another one. That connection has deepened over time, and I hope that I will continue to develop the connection, because the rewards have extended far beyond sobriety.
While I don’t attend meetings as regularly as I once had, I do have commitments to my 12-step program that keep me accountable, and keep me connected. I would imagine that there is an ebb and flow to meeting attendance, as life circumstances change, but I feel no doubt that I am as invested as I need to be right now to be comfortable with my recovery. A gentleman once wisely said to me “if you stay in the middle you won’t fall off the edge,” and for some reason that stays with me, and I work to keep myself in the middle of my 12-step Fellowship.
Possibly the most important thing I do, on a regular basis, is self-evaluate, and do the very best I can to keep myself in balance emotionally. Whereas once I would have been completely without the skills to identify what I was feeling at any given moment, I now have self-awareness. I can now put a name to the feeling I am experiencing in any given moment. And if I find myself leaning too far in any direction, I work to bring myself back to center. Whether that work is getting to a meeting, talking to someone about what’s on my mind, or just shooting up a quick prayer, I make dealing with my feelings a priority.
What I do know is that I’m in recovery from a progressive, fatal disease. What I don’t know is what could trip me up, and have me thinking it is okay to pick up a drink or drug. So I treat things as if they could be potential dangers, and I ask myself, “Can you stay sober?” for anything that has me out of balance.
When I reflect on my journey of recovery, I am overwhelmed by the miracle of consecutive years of sobriety (even if it is just 2!)… beyond my wildest dreams!