Getting sober and living sober are two very different things. One is a short(ish) term project that is hard work and requires a big concerted effort. The other is a long term lifestyle choice that requires the implementation and nurturing of a variety of nourishing tools and techniques.
Getting sober requires grit, determination and bravery. It involves you identifying triggers, beating cravings, shifting hard-wired beliefs about alcohol and reframing your identity to that of a non-drinker. It is an intense, tricky process that can take months of effort. It is turning your life around!
It is hard work – no doubt about it – but cracks of light come through at every stage in the process. Slowly but surely things improve, you get glimmers of hope and whispers of freedom that eventually turn solid and magnificent.
Then eventually one day you realise the hard work is over, you’re not having to make so much effort any more to not drink. You relax into your new sober skin and not drinking becomes your norm. This is a happy day indeed!
But then the ongoing work required to live sober becomes very apparent. This is the work to establish (or really ‘bed in’ if you have them already) tools and techniques that will keep you strong when dealing with everything life deals up.
Because tricky stuff comes along constantly, and living sober means we are prepared to always face them without numbing or blurring.
Us sober folk NEVER get to avoid feelings by bending our brains with a liquid drug (like many thousands of other people do). We NEVER get to take the edge off a tricky day with a glass of wine (or five). We NEVER get to let loose with a bevvy or two and forget about our cares for a while. No. We front up day after day after day, through sadness and stress and pain, through tricky relationships or or complicated interactions, and we remain raw and alert and present for all of it. Sober.
And for this we require some next-stage/long-term recovery work. This is the job of living sober. This is where we need to find, learn, foster and cement a bunch of kind, authentic, nourishing tools and techniques that are going to be with us for the rest of our lives.
These things aren’t quick fixes (like booze is). They’re not dramatic and outrageous (like booze is). They’re subtle, deep, grounded, nourishing and powerful (unlike booze).
They’re also utterly fabulous because these are the things that lead to a genuinely calm and satisfying life. That’s what I’ve found anyway. I now have a vast array of lovely tools and techniques that I can turn to when the going gets tough. New things in my life that I never had when boozing and only started to develop after the hard work of getting sober was done.
I wouldn’t have these things available to me if I’d kept boozing, and that would be a great shame. Because right now – at nearly 6 years sober – I’m happier, calmer and more content than I’ve ever been before. And this is a glorious thing.
Love, Mrs D xxx
P.S. I describe what my tools and techniques are for long-term sobriety and how I found and established them in my new book Mrs D Is Going Within.