I will never forget the day I walked out of jail and into an intervention hosted by my family. I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass of the lawn we were sitting on when I first realized that the veil had been removed. My secret was out and there was no way out of facing my drug addiction. My dad left me with no option outside of getting some sort of help. Fears of not having a celebratory drink at my wedding (I wasn’t in a relationship) and being doomed to a boring life flooded my mind. Getting down to the root of who I am, I’ve realized I am fearful of almost everything. When all mind-altering substances were removed, I was petrified of everything.
Almost five years sober and fears still crop up. However, the irrational fears and judgments I had about sobriety have left me long ago. Here are a few of the fears I overcame in sobriety.
#1. “I will not have fun ever again.”
When I first got sober, I couldn’t fathom a lifestyle void of my love affair with drugs and alcohol. My entire world centered around chasing my next high, and without them – I was miserable. My idea of fun was never achieved without some sort of substance medicating me. Getting sober, this fear was shattered. Not only am I surrounded by an army of other sober men and women, but life has actually opened up. Any “fun” I had while I was drinking and drugging was drowned out by oblivion. I never had the opportunity to capitalize on the experiences in front of me. Here are a few of the fun things you get to do in sobriety (that you probably didn’t experience nor have the money to experience) in active addiction:
- Taking a Roadtrip/Camping
- Attending concerts and remembering the entire experience
- Sober raves
- Finding a new hobby
- Sober conferences
Sobriety has opened up so many opportunities for me to honestly examine who I am and what I actually enjoy. I have had way more fun in recovery than I ever had before I got sober.
#2. “I don’t think I can handle stressful days without drugs or alcohol.”
This was a big one for me. During my time in active addiction, stress was always a solid excuse for me to get wasted. I never truly knew how to cope with emotions in general, especially stressful emotions. The insanity behind this behavior was that I drank to avoid stress, and the more I drank the more stressful life became. I can’t say that stress goes away once you get sober. The truth is, life happens on life’s terms, and when I got sober, I acquired the tools to deal with stress as it cropped up. Suddenly, minor issues didn’t seem so explosive. I have learned so many valuable lessons about powerlessness and understanding how to accept things precisely as they are throughout my sobriety. This has cultivated a much less stressful life.
#3. No one will ever want to date me.”
This is a common one for a lot of us that get sober. For me, the thought of having to divulge my messy past while on a first date with someone made me cringe. I couldn’t stomach the idea of having to actually be vulnerable and not expect someone else to judge me for my past. Ultimately, it all comes down to fear of rejection. I was absolutely terrified that if I couldn’t drink like most of the people my age, then surely that would knock me down on the level of being desirable for finding a partner. I was dead wrong.
Sobriety has actually taught me how to be a loving, patient, kind, tolerant, and forgiving partner. Before getting sober, I distributed none of the characteristics I just mentioned. I was constantly dating people who seemed to be a little worse off than I was because it made me feel better about myself. As you can imagine, this created one toxic relationship after the other. There has not been one occasion on this journey where my sobriety was a factor in someone not wanting to date me. In fact, it has been the opposite. I have come to find that the promises that come true in our lives thanks to sobriety are extremely attractive to potential partners.
#4. “I am afraid to actually feel my feelings.”
This is one of the greatest fears most people have when considering getting sober. It would be fair to say that many alcoholics and addicts love the desired effects of not feeling anything when we are getting high. For me, I spent my drinking and drugging days doing everything in my power to avoid any and all feelings. I could never accept life on life’s terms, and I certainly lived in emotional chaos. Therefore, the thought of having to actually deal with the pain that I had been numbing for over six years of my life was daunting. I had no idea how to cope with any unwelcomed feelings.
Before I ever picked up a drink or a drug, I was steadily looking for anything to distract any feelings that would come up, and I was miserable until I found my solution in other substances. That worked until it didn’t anymore. Once I understood that I would never heal until I walked through all of my fears and painful memories of the past, I began seeking every spiritual option to help guide me through the process. One of the most beautiful gifts of sobriety is being emotionally available and present today.
#5. “What if I actually succeed at getting sober?”
This may sound erroneous, but if you’re an alcoholic like me – you will understand this last fear. When I decided to get sober, I was absolutely broken and beaten into a state of submission. I had zero self-esteem, and I honestly didn’t think that I deserved anything of value to happen in my life. While I was certainly afraid of failing, paradoxically, I was also terrified of succeeding. I had been the queen of self-sabotage for most of my life because of this fear.
The fear of actually maintaining continuous sobriety is real. I only knew the life I created for myself. I knew what it was like to hurt and disappoint the ones I loved. I learned how to operate in chaos. I knew how to lie, cheat, and steal. Once I had been removed from drugs and alcohol, I actually began to give myself a chance. I learned how to be accountable, consistent, and reliable. The relationships in my life began to blossom and deepen. I finally started to become the daughter, mother, sister, and friend I was created to be. Let me tell you this, never could I have ever imagined I’d be living the beautiful life I am living today. I am so incredibly grateful that I did succeed in putting in the work to stay sober.