Before getting sober and making the changes in my life necessary for peace, happiness and joy, I lived a very chaotic lifestyle. There was always some sort of drama unfolding, some traumatic event taking place. A troubled mind and a broken heart at every corner, that’s all I ever really had, from one extreme to another, always restless, discontent, running from life and running from myself. Things are so different now and at times hard to get used to. Peace, happiness and joy were not my MO, so when I eventually started to feel these things, they were uncomfortable and made me feel incredibly vulnerable.

In a sort of way I’d become accustomed to the insanity and chaos. I really didn’t know life without it. I believed that if I quit drinking my life would be so dull and boring, without the highs and the lows. It took some time and training to learn I could laugh again. It took even longer to find happiness and joy, and even longer to experience the peace and serenity that was talked about in the rooms of AA.

Now that I’m a little over 3 years sober, I can honestly say I’ve experienced moments of peace, found joy in small things, and the highs and lows are a thing of the past. I’m still not quite used to the normalcy of this life style, although I understand and respect routine enough to know that this is my life now. I don’t laugh as much as I used to, but the pain of loneliness is much less. I have a greater sense of belonging. I’m not so afraid to be on my own and for the first time in my life I am enjoying my own company.

I’ve found a connection with God like I did when I was a child, only much deeper and more loving than I ever imagined possible. Peace is something you truly have to experience for yourself. I didn’t have a clue what that was; it was only a word that was spoken. Sobriety isn’t full-time excitement or fireworks, it’s slow and gradual. Not leaps and bounds, but baby steps, learning how to settle into a slower pace, learning how to be still. I think that’s been one of the hardest parts for me.

For as long as I can recall I’ve always been a going concern, moving, shaking, never calm, never still, even in my sleep. There is a lot of meditation and reflection in sobriety, things I always thought were boring and dull, maybe because I had the wrong idea about them. I never wanted to stay still long enough to face the pain, confusion and agony I felt inside, or that I never really loved myself enough to try. Now that I’ve taken the time to learn and with lots of help, it’s one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve received, something I give back to myself.

Most of it has come journaling with you, through my writing I’ve found a friend within me. I’ve found answers and my strength. Drinking was the solution to all my problems. Now I find my problems less and my troubles minimum. Open mindedness and willingness are the keys to learning new tricks. I was so closed off to anything different than I was already doing, but I’ve seen changes in myself not thought possible.

Sobriety takes a lot of faith and a lot of action, determination and perseverance — the more you put in, the more you get out. Do I want my old life back? Sometimes…Is this new life gratifying and rewarding — Absolutely! I’m still working on patience and will most likely be working on it for the rest of my life. I will not sacrifice the freedom I have found for the bottle. More joy and happiness is to be found and find it, I will.

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