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[ Opinion ]

15 Things I Learned The First Year (Of Sobriety)

This piece was originally written for my blog on July 18 of 2015; one day after my First Year Sobriety birthday. Now, nearly a year later, I still remind myself of these lessons daily. When I got sober, all I wanted to do was STOP drinking and STOP using drugs. Much to my surprise, sobriety has given me much more than that… it has given me REAL life, ABUNDANT life…. it has taught me how to live. It’s here for you, too, ya know. In case you’re feeling hopeless and need a little hope…. IT’S HERE FOR YOU, TOO. YOU’RE NOT ALONE.  

Please feel free to reach out to me here, here or here and I’ll do my very best to get you in contact with another addict or alcoholic that spends their days helping others get sober. 

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Yesterday marked ONE YEAR OF SOBRIETY in my life. That’s 8,760 hours. It is nothing that I did except conjure up the willingness, humility and desire to allow GOD to direct my thinking. Only by His grace and the fellowship of the program I choose to practice, have I been able to stay sober into First Year Sobriety. I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned since July 17 of 2014… one, in hopes that it might help you and two, that this time next year I can look back and see, yet again, how far my God has brought me in my journey.

My past doesn’t dictate my future… UNLESS I LET IT.

The word “IF” may be tiny, but has huge implications. There are far better days ahead of me IF I am willing to do the work, IF I am willing to take suggestions, IF I am willing to surrender DAILY to the fact that I am powerless, not only over drugs and alcohol, but over you, too.

Being independent doesn’t have to mean doing everything on my own; not only is it acceptable to ask for help, but it’s necessary.

Admitting I’m wrong isn’t a sign of weakness but rather a sign of humility… and I can always use more humility in my life.

Happiness is a mindset, not a feeling.

Feelings aren’t facts; they come in waves… sit tight. It will pass. I can’t make decisions based on the way I FEEL in the moment… my decisions will always be irrational and impulsive and probably come with huge consequences. There’s a lot to be said for a little sleep followed by a good cup of coffee.

A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life… complaining about how miserable I am only perpetuates my misery. I have to remind myself to isolate the bad day to JUST A BAD DAY and start over tomorrow with a grateful heart and positive mind. A bad day doesn’t have to become a bad week, but it can if I allow it.

There’s definitely such a thing as being too smart for my own good. Shut up and take some suggestions from those who know more than me. I am reminded daily that I do not know everything.

There is absolutely no substitute for a good friend… and a good friend isn’t somebody that cosigns my bullshit and tells me what I want to hear. A good friend tells me I’m being CRAZY and to take a closer look at my part in the situation. Then they give me ice cream or tell me I’m pretty.

Thinking too much is dangerous. I think myself into an irrational oblivion of problems, arguments and conversations that have yet to even transpire… and the majority of which never will. A good book keeps my mind quiet. Or Netflix. Both good alternatives to brainstorming about what I’ll do when Lily is 16 and gets caught with an older boy and a 6 pack of beer. (Side note… he better be faster than me.)

It’s okay to be lonely… as long as I remember I’m not really alone. It’s a feeling. Let it come. Let it pass.

Expectations steal my serenity. Acceptance brings it back. Remembering that everything is ACTUALLY the way it should be, today, right now, in this moment is absolutely imperative to my happiness.

And regardless of my past, I deserve happiness… BUT I AM NOT ENTITLED TO IT.

I don’t have to have all the answers. I just have to do the next right thing… the answers will come, almost without me realizing it.

Intellectual rationalization obstructs my view of God; I’ve spent years wanting PROOF of God’s love for me when all I ever had to do was just SURRENDER to the idea that I can’t explain it. And that’s okay. I don’t NEED to understand why things are the way they are… all I need today is the willingness to place my life in the hands of someone far greater than myself.

I don’t expect perfection of myself, but I do expect progress… As long as I’m doing something today to ensure that my life will be better tomorrow, I know everything will be okay.

I am not where I want to be, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was this time last year…

Here’s to another 24 hours.