Too Good to be True: Life at 2 Years Sober
Sobriety / / Sep 27, 2016
When I was first getting sober, I thought my life was over. After being referred to an addiction recovery program by my doctor, I was sure that I would now forever bear the shame of being labeled as someone with serious alcohol and drug issues.
I grew up with with an implicit understanding that I would never want to be one of “those people”. I had been fed imagery since I was young that drug addicts and alcoholics are creeps, criminals and degenerate losers. It all seemed obvious enough when we had to participate in D.A.R.E. throughout elementary school. The message was that drugs are bad, and people who do drugs are bad. Don’t be like them! Simple.
Things got more complicated as I got older. In the midst of my addiction, I had indeed been pretty creepy to lots of people. I have also committed crimes while drunk and high, and there were times when my lifestyle had degenerated to the point where I definitely felt like a total fucking loser. Despite all of this, I still treasured my deluded ego more than my own well being, so acknowledging the fact that I actually needed real help was extremely painful, and it took a lot to get me there.
When I finally agreed to check myself into rehab, I was awash in self pity. At the time, admitting to others that I had a serious problem with substance abuse and checking into a program was the equivalent of acknowledging that I was resigned to my failure; that essentially I would forever be mediocre at best in all aspects of life. I thought it meant giving up on all of the grand ambitions I had held from a young age and relinquishing any ideas of myself as being a talented, special, or otherwise worthwhile person. I thought that surely, no one who has these kind of pathetic problems would ever be allowed to enjoy true success. On top of all that, I wasn’t even mildly certain that I could ever stay sober.
As of this writing I have been completely free of all drugs and alcohol for 2 years.
I can honestly say that today, life is really good. Quite frankly, it’s the best it’s ever been! It’s better than I ever thought it could be. When I really stop and think about where I am now and where I was then, it really seems too good to be true. Recently, I’ve been dealing with the fear that this is all just a fantastic dream, and at some point I’ll wake up again on the morning of September 14, 2014, hungover as shit and wanting to die all over again.
Every fundamental aspect of my life has gotten tremendously better over the past 2 years. I’ve been consistently going to the gym about twice a week and exercising, and at 27 years old I’m currently in the best shape I’ve ever been in. A little over a year ago I got a solid, steady job for an IT company, and since then I’ve passed my first two IT certifications. I’ve actually been doing well enough at work to the point of getting a raise and a promotion, which is amazing considering how sketchy my work history had been as a result of my addiction.
My relationship with my parents has never been better. For most of my life, there were sensitive subjects that have always been difficult to discuss. After entering recovery, the way we appreciate and talk to each other has opened up dramatically, and there is a genuine affection I have for them that I wasn’t able to express before. For the first time in my life, I feel like a success. I really like who I am, and I’m not afraid to look at myself honestly.
Luckily, I have lots of people in my life today who reassure me that this is not a fantasy. They remind me that these incredible things are real. In my sobriety, I’ve gotten involved with lots and lots of like minded individuals. Some of them even write for this blog! There were several years of my life when I would sit alone in my room every evening, drinking with the door closed until I passed out. Now, I simply don’t have enough time during most of my days to meet up with all of the wonderfully interesting and loving friends I’ve made. The contrast is unbelievable.
The road to this point has been extremely difficult at times, and there were definitely many instances where I wanted to give up. What was crucial for me in getting through those rough patches was help from other people. Every step of the way, I sought guidance from people who are wiser and more experienced than me. As an alcoholic drug addict, it is extremely easy to get wrapped up in cynicism when judging other people and their intentions, but surprisingly I found that when I honestly asked for help the vast majority of the time I was greeted by people who legitimately had my best interest in their hearts.
The most important thing I’ve learned in my sobriety is that despite all the amazing things that have happened for me, there is honestly nothing that is really that unique or special about my experience or the problems I’ve struggled with. In my addiction, I thought that every success and failure was singular and distinctive, and that I was always either better or worse than someone else. I alternated between rapturous delusions of grandeur and crippling self hatred.
Now I understand that I’m neither the most amazing nor the most terrible person on the planet, and my ego has shrunk a little. Honestly, I’m just… some dude. You probably wouldn’t look twice if we passed each other in a crowded street. I’m just one person amongst many, and I have lots of good days, but also bad days. I’m certainly not perfect, and that’s perfectly alright. Life is better this way.
So yes, I’m just some random guy! Lots of people have felt the way I felt, and have overcome the problems I’ve overcome. You can do it too! If you don’t believe me, then come and meet my friends! I’ll prove it to you. Like I said, I know that this stuff may sound too good to be true, especially if you’re currently struggling with addiction. But it’s not too good to be true! It’s real.
It’s soooo, so real.