First of all, let me preface this by saying that getting and staying sober has been, by far, the best decision that I’ve ever made. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
But I’m also going to say something else that might not be what other people in recovery want to put out there, but what I have found in my experience to be completely true.
Sometimes, sobriety sucks.
Before you call me ungrateful or tell me that I am a hop, skip and a jump away from a relapse, hear me out. Yes, freedom from addiction and a life of sobriety is an incredibly amazing (not to mention totally worthwhile) journey. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While getting and staying sober was the best decision I’ve ever made, in a lot of ways it’s also been the most challenging.
One of the things that I truly loved about substances was that they gave me an escape; an escape from my problems, an escape from my incessant worrying, an escape from reality. When I got sober, I didn’t miss the actual substances or the craziness that existed in my life as a direct result of abusing them, but I did miss the escape. And at nearly 5 years sober, sometimes I still do. And that sucks.
You know what else sucks? When I hang out with my “normie” friends, and they have a couple of beers, loosen up a bit and then head home without doing anything crazy, out of control or self destructive. I look at them and there’s a part of me that envies their ability to put down a drink, to enjoy alcohol responsibly without having it take over their lives. It makes me feel like I am just an out of control person.
It also sucks that I feel like I have to do so much work just to feel normal. In order to stay sane, I have to go to meetings, connect with people in the program, be of service, work on my spirituality, make gratitude lists, work with newcomers…. It’s pretty much a full time job. And when I get complacent and stop doing the things that I know I need to do (which I have done and do not recommend), the result is immediate: I am restless, irritable and discontent.
So maybe a lot of people don’t say it and maybe I’m the only one who feels it, but sometimes sobriety sucks.
But here’s the flip side of that coin – it only sucks when I view it that way. Because in every challenge, there is also an opportunity for growth.
Yes, I no longer have the option of using a substance to escape my feelings or problems. But because of that, I have learned to actually DEAL with them instead.
And yes, sometimes I get jealous of my friends that can drink normally. But now, I get to be the person who makes sure they get home safe from the bar. And I’m also the one who doesn’t wake up with a hangover.
And absolutely, sobriety is a lot of work. But the result of that work is miraculous. I have amazing relationships, I have a life with meaning, I have an active spiritual life. The juice is completely worth the squeeze.
So yea, sometimes sobriety sucks. But you know what? Sometimes LIFE sucks. That’s just the nature of existence – there are ups and downs on the rollercoaster. The point is to make the most of the ride.