26 things I have learned in 26 years of sobriety
On March 21st 2021 I celebrate 26 years of continuous sobriety and I am so full of gratitude for all that length of time in recovery.
I have learned so much and I want to capture some of the biggest learnings I have had to date. It is a wonderful exercise to reflect upon.
- Getting sober requires changing how I deal with life on life’s terms and picking up a drink is a worn out strategy that did not work.
- Staying sober requires I continue to change and grow and become responsible. (There I said the responsible word!)
- I can’t have the benefits without doing the work. No maximum benefit for minimum input!
- When I pretend I am doing the work I feed the part of me that believes I am an imposter anyway. That beast feeds itself without me giving it more fodder.
- The world is only a hostile place when my focus is solely on what is difficult. Being out in nature is a great life lesson of natural law. Adapt or battle and die. I don’t want to die just yet.
- People are good and decent and honest in the main. And they are usually minding their own business and getting on with life. They are great roles models now that I come to think of it.
- Goals can be achieved and it is ok be excited about knowing I only have work on the next step to bring it to life. I can celebrate with things other than booze when I achieve it like time with a friend who champions me or enjoying the immense feeling of gratitude I feel for how life is different today.
- When I feel I am stuck and cannot move that is the time to practise being patient. It might not move me out of the stuck place any quicker but it sure as hell makes it easier to be there.
- Family is important. Not all the people I consider family are blood relatives but they are my kin. They believe in me, trust me and help me in any way they can. They cry with me when life throws me curve balls that knock me for six and they wait with me while I am reorganising myself when I get back up to meet life on life’s terms again.
- I am a good friend too. I have developed values since I got sober that are my true north. Loyalty is a core value to me. My friends and family can count me when they need me. Nobody and I mean gets a hall pass to say mean things about them in my presence.
- Other people’s opinions of me are not only none of my business but also they do NOT define me. If someone thinks I am fat, ugly, bossy, forgot where I came from, stuck up or think I am better than anyone else I remember that is all that it is, someone else’s thought. It’s their thought leave it with them. That thought does not make me any of those things.
- I am not a one trek pony in terms of my skills and talents. I am great at a lot of things. Actually I am great at loads and loads of things. I have a healthy curiosity about life, people and the world in general. I have picked up a lot of skills and discovered many talents because of that healthy curiosity.
- I have a great relationship with God. We get along really well and I love that I feel I am in a partnership with an energy that has my back. I love that feeling and I do things to increase that feeling every day and IT WORKS!
- I have come to believe that the quality of the life I have in my years is more important than the numbers of the years themselves. I used to count only the number now I reflect on the progress because of the time.
- Time flies by. It goes by so quickly. Use time well. Make it count and fill it with all of things and events that increase happiness for you and others. And tell people you love them – often.
- Behaviour’s that bring misery, pain and keep me from growing can change with a bit of effort. When I see what benefit I get from keeping the behaviour I begin to feel compassion for myself that I learned in a skewed way to cope with challenges. But that is all it is, a coping mechanism that no longer works. Doesn’t make me a bad person. It simply means I hadn’t many options available to me back then when I first learned how to behave that way.
- Options become available when I am open to seeing them. Being invested in who I think I am or who I think I should be, I am closing down who I am now. Growth is about change. A seed doesn’t stay a seed for its entire lifespan, it grows into something else entirely. Not allowing myself to grow is like saying I want to stay a seed. Nope not happening. I have a beautiful flower to bloom into and I am going to bloom thank you very much.
- Responsibility is freedom. For so long it felt like a burden and something to avoid. Freedom in its truest sense is allowing life to flow like a stream and making sure I don’t build a dam to stop the flow.
- Joy can be found in almost any situation. Getting into bed that has fresh linen on it still fills me with so much joy every single time. In challenging situations I can find joy in spotting something beautiful that brings me back to my true nature. Situations come and go. Joy is an experience that is available at any time.
- Life lessons usually start off as a form of discomfort. I tend to see it now like pains I got in my knees when I was a kid, which my dad always explained to me as growing pains. Growing pains are hard, not growing is hard. I have learned to choose my hard wisely.
- Hobbies are a wonderful way to express myself. They also broaden out my social circles which broadens my mind. They feed my creativity streak too.
- My health is absolutely my wealth and looking after my body so that it functions well is key to helping me have a healthy mind.
- Perspectives can change with new information. Just as a painting looks different in certain lights so do situations with time.
- Each day I have the same amount of time available to me and how I use it is up to me. I have access to recovery support 24/7 so I have no excuse at all to stay in my misery.
- My belief’s inform my values, my values inform how I behave so I make sure I foster some healthy beliefs about life, love and what makes me happy.
- Gratitude for the gift or sobriety is the one spiritual tool that has seen me through some very challenging times. Even in deepest grief and loss, gratitude for not picking up and making it worse for everyone else is sometimes the ONLY thing I can be grateful for but it is actually EVERYTHING
Time and tide wait for no man but used wisely you can sure as hell enjoy the ebb and flow of the tide and make every minute count!
A beautifully written blog from the heart filled with 26 wonderful lessons reading them makes you think your journey is magical the future is in your hands. Thank you for sharing your honest and open thoughts Sandra xx
Thank you Debbie for your kind words.
I’m working on perfecting my thoughts around number 11.
“Other people’s opinions of me are not only none of my business but also they do NOT define me.”
I’m going to write that on a post-it note and stick it to my wall!!
Thanks for an insightful read!
I know it is a hard one to swallow but so so freeing.
We can define our selves and our future 🙂
Thank you for the kind words Sarah.