If you have been using or abusing drugs or alcohol for any length of time, you have been in the habit of distorting reality. Through addiction to mind-altering chemicals, you have found a way to avoid facing painful or uncomfortable feelings, and most of the time you have been completely numb on an emotional level.
Now that you are sober, you have to go through a gradual learning process on how to face life on life’s terms. You have probably said and done things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol that you are ashamed of. You may be filled with guilt and remorse about the past, and you may feel pretty uncomfortable in your own skin. Let the past stay in the past. It’s time to learn to love your sober self.
Changing Your Circle of Friends
One of the first things you need to look at is your circle of friends. If the people you have been associating with also rely on drugs and alcohol to cope with stress or discomfort, they will not be able to understand the changes you are trying to make. If friends or family members are sober but are convinced that you will eventually go back to your old ways, you may need to distance yourself from them, at least for a while.
As you start to live life as a sober individual, the people you associate with should be people who are supportive of the new direction you are taking. It’s helpful to be around other people who are also recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction, because these people will understand both the types of things you have done in the past and the changes you are trying to make in your day-to-day life. Having people truly in your corner can make a world of difference in the recovery process.
Getting to Know Yourself
When the mind-altering chemicals have left your system, you will suddenly realize that you have reached a new level of awareness about life. It’s almost like being born again. Life is full of brand-new experiences that you can clearly see and enjoy. To get the most out of life, you need to get to know who you are as a sober person.
Think about your hopes and dreams for the future. Do you have career goals or financial goals? Are there hobbies you have always wanted to participate in but never did because you were too busy getting high? In working the steps, you take inventory of where you have been in your life and what you have to work with today. Make a list of things you want to do and what it will take for you to be able to do them. Keep a journal and pay attention to what places or activities make you feel peaceful or happy. You are a person in the process of evolving into a better version of yourself. Enjoy the journey.
Healing and Self-Love
As you work the 12 steps of recovery, you will begin to heal from the dark days of the past. It is important to give yourself credit for the changes you are making. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing what you have to do to avoid picking up a drink or a drug for this one day. You deserve credit for all the things you have done right in the past and all the little things you do right each day now that you are sober. No matter what you have done wrong in the past, you have never been a completely bad person. You are an addicted person in the process of healing and transforming.
Forgive yourself for past mistakes. For some people, this takes time and the help of a sponsor or counselor. Whatever mistakes you have made in the past, you can’t undo them now. All you can do is make better choices going forward one day at a time. Give yourself credit for making the decision to recover. You deserve to be loved. The healing process starts with loving and forgiving yourself.