By James Coburn
Most people think sobriety is the beginning of the end…It’s the end of fun, the end of your social life, a punishment, a curse. To those who might concur with this sentiment, I profoundly disagree and quite frankly, call total bullshit. That being said, let’s give my comment some context. I’m a 27 year old former drunk who lives in the heart of one of this country’s proudest drinking towns (Boston) and am approaching a half a decade of sobriety. If you are a young person trying to get sober, and like me in the beginning, the first sentence of this article resonates strongly with your current mindset, I’m going to tell you why you are wrong so try and listen to and critically think about what I am saying to you. If you want to be sober, your life is going to change.
First thing’s first, don’t listen to yourself right now. People in early sobriety (myself included a few years ago) are not stable. Your brain chemistry is fucked and you are most likely feeling depressed, anxious, nervous, and living in a pessimistic egocentric universe where everything is awful and everyone is out to get you. Try and relax, this is normal, and if you don’t believe me, dive into a Google binge of “brain chemistry during early sobriety” and educate yourself. Admit that this is the truth (that your brain is temporarily on vacation from normalcy), and you can finally expand your mind and be open to the advice I want to share with you.
Here are a few things I strongly urge you to understand and be open to:
Early sobriety is a lonely time, and many people who aren’t so lucky as you may not be able to relate to your current situation. Like I said earlier, our natural state is to be egocentric, and many of us think that just because we are going through something, the whole world must know how we feel and will inevitably come to our aid with emotional support….Unfortunately, the world also tends to think about themselves, and sorry to say, not you. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WILL HELP however, if you muster up the willingness to ask. There are literally thousands of young people who have been through early sobriety (myself included) who want nothing more than to pass along the experience and help you through it. Lucky for you the internet is a thing now so trust me you can find us.
This is a waste of your time. So often we get stuck looking at our old drinking buddies and their lives, fantasizing about how we might still be drinking with them had we done things differently. Others tend to focus on the life they want and think that the obstacles that stand in the way to achieving it are insurmountable. One of the most important things you can do early on is to just focus on the here and now. You need to be sober today, let’s start with that. If you can spend enough single days focusing on that, the life you want will come.
This sobriety thing is hard at first, and has its ups and downs in the beginning. I never expected any good to come of my sobriety. It is funny to me looking back now, not knowing how i ever found time for life when I was drinking. Remember, skilled sailers are not made by calm seas. Embrace the storm, walk through the struggle, and witness miracles first hand each time you overcome it.
It always amazed me how easily I gained the life I wanted in sobriety. Go figure, take the booze away and we actually accomplish things, and easier than most “normal people”. Things make sense, your thought process becomes crisp and clear, and goals become achievable simply by getting up each day and living a sober life. With all this time not drinking, you can focus your energy on other things, and the feeling of accomplishing your goals is fucking amazing. If you can make it through the initial struggles, you will see this to be true.
Similar to above, I just want to tell you that happiness is real. The people you want in your life will want to be around the sober you, the places you want to go become accessible, and you CAN discover what it means to be happy if you give yourself a real chance at this thing.
Remember, even if you don’t believe a word of what I am saying, try it anyway and see what happens. If you don’t like the way you feel, the people you will meet, the life you are living, you can always go back to the way things were….If that is what you want to do, I won’t judge you, but you may want to just ask yourself, how’d that work out for you last time? just a thought…