What You Need To Know

Posted on June 2, 2013

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This is a letter I wrote to a client when I took her to treatment.  I never got to give it to her.

There are so many things to think about as you approach this piece of your life. It is a strange place to be, in your head, thinking about these changes that are necessary and wondering how it will be. I had a lot of fear about being sober. I feared that I would no longer be funny.  I feared that I would not be able to date a boy without drinking. I feared my friends would not accept me as a sober person, because they would never be sober people. What I finally realized is that alcohol does not define who I am as a person, it is only what I did to quench my everyday fears and discomfort with life.

Alcohol affected every inch of my life and behavior. It made me insecure and scared. I couldn’t feel good about myself when I knew that I couldn’t handle my problems without alcohol. I knew I didn’t have the strength to live life without this liquid courage, and I knew that because of alcohol I was no good. I lied to people to convince them I was better than I was. I dressed pretty and looked pretty hoping that noone would try to get past my exterior and try to find out who I really was because I knew they would be disappointed.

I only thought of myself. All that mattered to me was what I wanted, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to go with, and when I wanted it to happen. If people didn’t do what I wanted then I would ditch them and find other people who would. I was so selfish. I chose drunk boys to date because I wasn’t good enough to date a good boy. Why would a good boy want to hang out with a drunk girl? And I tried to buy things to fill the hole inside of me because I thought I was defective and the hole could not be repaired.

By the time I got sober, I had no way to cope with life. I was depressed and hated myself. My drinking had escalated to a level that I never knew was possible and my life was falling apart before my very eyes. I could barely get to work and was in jeopardy of losing my job, I had spent all of my money and rent was due in a week, my car payment was past due, and I was incapable of taking care of myself. These are all of the things that I didn’t know how to fix and these are all of the things that I had to learn how to do as a sober person.

When I got sober I learned very quickly that this was going to be a journey. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about life, and I was grateful for that because it would have scared me. I knew, after a swallowed bottle of pills, legal trouble, and almost killing an innocent person that I had to stop. I didn’t know about formal treatment and neither did anyone that loved me. There was no knowledge of options and, even there was knowledge, there was no money to send me anywhere. All I knew to do was go to AA.

Getting sober is challenging. I had to be willing to be uncomfortable in a lot of situations, I had to be willing to go to events where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t want to know anyone. I knew that staying in my comfort zone would keep me in a life of drinking and destroying myself. My comfort zone was unhealthy and deadly, and I had to get out of there. I also had to be willing to feel sad and not take a drink to make the sadness go away. I felt unsure of my life and I was still insecure, but I knew that alcohol was not my solution.

When you feel uncomfortable and uncertain, I hope you can understand that it will go away. Bad times and bad feelings always go away, just like good times and good feelings. It is okay to feel bored, just don’t drink to not be bored. It is okay to feel unsure, we all do. Some moments will feel amazing and I hope you take the time to enjoy those moments and be very grateful for them, because those moments will go away also. Don’t be preoccupied with boys! Sometimes, boys make us feel worse about ourselves when we don’t need to. Boys will always be around and available, there is no shortage of them, but right now is about you, your life, and your happiness.

Sometimes you will feel angry. And that’s okay too. We just don’t drink to get rid of it. We talk to each other, maybe we complain and whine, but we talk it through and figure out why we are angry. That way we don’t have to drink to make it go away.

Everything coming up will be new for you. This is a very exciting time in your life. You are young, funny, smart, talented, and educated. This journey of sobriety can be the greatest time in your life and most amazing self-discovery and growth you ever experience. It takes great strength to start this path and you are doing it with dignity and bravery. It is very empowering to learn how to deal with problems and emotions directly. To be a strong, passionate, sober woman is the greatest feeling in my life. To know the things I have been through and survived, to know what I have accomplished as an adult and to know that, with my sobriety and AA and my sober friends, there is absolutely nothing I can’t handle. I hope you have this same experience. I hope when you come home you find a meeting place you like and you settle in and call it your homegroup. I hope you meet amazing and fun sober people to share your time and your life with. As people with addiction, we connect with one another on a different level than other people. We have fought a fight that most will never understand and know that to have our lives is a true miracle.

I hope you do not dwell on the past but approach the future with excitement and tenacity. Become a leader in your sober community and surround yourself with successfully sober people. I hope you understand that we are all ever-changing and learning and growing, and it is a journey. And when it makes you really angry, remember that all of the greatest gifts in life are the ones that we have to work the hardest for.  Keep fighting, keep moving forward, keep challenging yourself, and know that you will be okay.

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