5 Things I Gained In Recovery

5 Things I Gained In Recovery
Photo by Austin Schmid / Unsplash

The Unexpected Delight Of Sobriety

“Grateful people are happy people”

This phrase annoyed me when I first got sober. Of course, you are grateful, because you are happy.

I soon realized that grateful people have gone through loss, which in turn makes them grateful and happy for what they have.

Being happy and grateful now at 13 months sober made me notice and appreciate all the gifts I’ve experienced in sobriety.

This isn’t the first time I’m in recovery, but it is the first time that I am grateful and happy.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and wanted to share some amazing details.

I’ve fallen in love with myself

From the time I was a little girl, I didn’t like who I was. My mom emotionally abused me and called me names, so it’s not a shocker that my self-esteem was pretty low. People-pleasing seemed like a good answer to ease the pain during the hard moments of growing up. That stuck with me through my 30s. Always being worried about what others think is exhausting.

There were so many epiphanies in my early sobriety that made me question why I was behaving this way. I decided to let that all go. Let go of the fear and the unknown, and what people thought of me. If they didn’t like me, that’s ok. Because does it even matter if everyone likes you? Is that the meaning of life? Definitely not. My reason for being alive is to help, love, and be creative.

Just recently, I had a revelation that I actually like the person I am now. I am not a fraud, just a woman living an honest and open life. I am not hiding behind a facade anymore and it is so freeing. I can notice my strengths, which I’ve always had an issue with.

I am calm and peaceful

Drinking caused me to have erratic mood swings. Before I was diagnosed bipolar and prescribed medication, my moods were out of control. Even medicated, if I was drinking I was unpredictable.

Since my sleep was inconsistent and I was usually withdrawing or drinking, at times I felt insane. Something small would set off my rage and I would be upset for the rest of the day. I was a reactor and said things I shouldn’t have or didn’t mean.

Now, most days I don’t even recognize myself. Things that used to make me upset, don’t anymore and if I do react, I quickly notice it and shut it down. I’ve learned to have a little chat with myself and make sure the feelings I am having are necessary. My hormones and every system in my body are functioning properly so I believe that makes my everyday life easier. I’m not poisoned by the toxic substance of alcohol.

Sleep is incredible

Ok, this is not an unexpected bonus. I knew I had to sleep better than when I was drinking because sleep was pretty much nonexistent. Insomnia rarely left my bed and now I always sleep at least 7 hours at night. That part was not expected. Most nights I don’t even wake up, either! It’s incredible! That’s 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep! I would have killed for 7 hours in 3 days after a big binge. I’ve gone 3 whole nights in a row not sleeping after a big party weekend. Talk about almost admitting myself to the psych ward!

I’ve made unreal connections

Feeling complete freedom to be yourself in front of someone is something so foreign. I have amazing friends, I really do, but there is something about the connection between two people that have lived parallel lives. The relationships that I’ve had in life are so much stronger and more authentic now. The key to recovery is connection. I was also oblivious to a sober community on Facebook and Instagram. What a lovely world I fell into when I started a sober Instagram. The community is so positive and supportive, making it easy to connect with someone you haven’t even met in person.

I’ve unlocked hidden talents

At the end of my drinking, I was in a dead-end job that I stayed at because I feared change. It was too much work to do anything about it. I enjoyed it at first, many years prior, but it was so redundant and nothing was exciting about it. My eyes were clouded by the alcohol and the fun I was going to have drunk.

In sobriety, I decided to move on. It is scary but now I have learned to accept and feel what I am experiencing. It’s good to feel the fear and do it anyway. A few months into the search for my identity, I read a book followed by listening to the author’s podcast and I thought, “I can do that, too!” It was about a drunk girl, turned sober influencer, author and coach. She was so inspiring and relatable. I am still in awe of everything she has accomplished.

So, I started to write and I didn’t stop. Not saying that I found my amazing hidden talent because honestly, I don’t know if I am a fabulous writer. It sounds good when I read it but I have no clue what other people will think. And, going back to that “I don’t care what people think” attitude, that is exactly how I feel when I hit publish. If people don’t like it, whatever.

I’ve also turned into an avid reader and I love to paint. Who knew? A new person was born!

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Back to being grateful, I appreciate everything I have so much more with a clear head. We all, as humans, take so many things for granted every day we are alive. I’ve been so humbled by my experiences drinking and the fact that I had to accept that this is my fate. But, my fate is turning out to be an amazing adventure of self-discovery.

To whoever reads this, I hope you are on your path to self-discovery. Don’t give up before the miracle happens.