This week's Sober Story comes from Daniel, a 30-year-old living in Florida.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Daniel: I have been in recovery since May 17, 2015
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Daniel: My last few months were some of the most isolated times in my life. I stayed up for days, wandered aimlessly during very odd hours and I would go days without even saying a word to myself or anyone else. When I look back on it I can still feel what that loneliness felt like. It was my own personal hell.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Daniel: My father died. He had a heart attack while sleeping and never woke up. Just six months before that I got fired from his company for stealing which began my huge downward spiral into what I just talked about in the last question. Thank god I talked to him 3 days before he died, otherwise I would of gone 6 months without talking to him, I don’t think i’d ever forgive myself if that were the case.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Daniel: I was walking on eggshells during my early days. I was in a safe place, a treatment center, but I really had little hope I would be able to bounce back from the past year I had just experienced. I didn’t believe in myself and thought it was my destiny to be a failure. That’s what my mind told me at least. The most difficult thing was believing that I was actually capable of turning my life around. I really thought I didn’t have what it takes.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family and friends when you started getting sober?
Daniel: I had a ton of support, especially because my dad had just died. For my friends even when I started showing signs of addiction, they were usually supportive from a distance, which I get. My family was extremely supportive, always has been, especially my mom. To put it simply, if I didn’t have my mom in my life then I would be nowhere near where I am today. Her support and my relationship with her today is the single thing I am most grateful for.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Daniel: Yes, many. I am definitely what some people would call a ‘chronic relapser’. That is mostly the reason why I had so little hope this time.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Daniel: Hm, I would say as soon as I really dove into the 12 steps and put pen to paper. I remember after doing my 5th step, which I did quite early in recovery, I had this feeling of I’m going to be okay as long as I stick with all of this. It was the most positive feeling I had felt in a long time.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Daniel: Fortunately for me, I am a very social person by default. So socializing sober has never been a problem. Getting honest with another man and telling him how I really felt, that was difficult. I was the type who loved to give everyone advice but let’s just not talk about my problems.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Daniel: I’m surprised I actually have a good work ethic. I’m not even exaggerating when I say I have had about 20 or so jobs in my life. Alot of them I quit or more so got fired because of my substance abuse. When I got my first job in recovery, I was so nervous I was not going to be a good employee just by default. I turned into one of the most reliable people there, it felt amazing.
Mrs D: That's fantastic! How else has your life changed?
Daniel: My life changed by actually having a life. The years prior to me getting sober involved very little working, socializing or doing anything productive. One of the best moments I have in recovery is when I went home for the first time with about 14 months sober. I had just gotten hired at a new place that I was very proud to work at. To be able to see old life long friends and tell them all about this fulfilling life that I am living were such special moments for me.
Mrs D: Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged for you from getting sober?
Daniel: To be able to feel again. To feel happy and even to feel sad, it is a blessing. I went so many years feeling absolutely nothing that it became the normal. Also the close relationship I have with my family again is probably the best thing I got back in my life. I go home up north about twice a year and it is always such a great experience to just be a part of my loving family during holidays and whatever other reason I am up there for.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Daniel: Wouldn’t change a thing! 🙂
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Daniel: I spent years relapsing because I always thought I knew what was best for me. I would be suggested to do all sorts of things and not to do other things and I would say okay then go on and do whatever I wanted. It took me a long time to realize doing what I want to do in recovery ultimately leads me to relapse. Once I stopped listening to my mind and listened to others completely and did what they told me to do, my life got better. Just stop thinking you know what you need to do. If you did you would of done it years ago.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Daniel: I’m not perfect and I never will be, same goes to whoever is reading this. My first year of recovery I thought that I had to do everything right and if I didn’t that meant I wasn’t “spiritual” or a good person. Thankfully I learned that I am flawed and I always will be, I will make mistakes and dumb decisions. I just hope to remain teachable and admit I am wrong and learn from those mistakes instead of beating myself up over it. Don’t be so hard on yourself.