Quite a lot has happened in the last six years, since I took my last drink on December 29, 2010. There was withdrawal, post-acute withdrawal, cravings and triggers, to be sure. But there was a lot more afterwards, and that's what strikes me today after nearly 6 years of sobriety.
There was clarity of thought, the ability to focus and really think clearly for the first time in years. There was increasing confidence in myself, and decreasing worry about what anyone else thinks about my path to sober living. There was travel overseas, to see a concert by one of my very favorite musicians who's music help get me through the early days of sobriety.
I quit my job of many years at around 3 years sobriety, and embarked on a journey that is still going on, moving on a career ladder I once didn't care about since it interfered with my drinking. I also started teaching on the side, and found it extremely fulfilling. I gave up some old hobbies, and found some new ones, including old hobbies I had put aside for many years.
But maybe more than anything, what has gradually taken root in me in me is unflappable stability and emotional sobriety. My sense of self-worth does not depend in any way on what anyone else thinks about me. I appreciate approval and compliments, but I do not require them. I do not need direction, I have the confidence to set my own, accepting wisdom from others but not requiring it. If I fail to live up to expectations, it's not because I have failed, it is because those expectations were misplaced by others. If I succeed beyond expectations, it's because those expectations were low and ill-informed. It's all on me, ultimately. It is my life, and I am responsible for directing it, and while the world may be a village, my life is my village, and I am king of that village. If I'm not happy with the state of the village, it's time for me to change something until I am happy with it.
So far, it's working very well, and I'm far happier and far more stable than I've ever been before. Sober living does not automatically mean happy living, but it does give us the opportunity for happy living. What we chose to do with that opportunity, is up to us.
Abstinence. Personal Empowerment. Support. Inclusiveness. www.freestylerecovery.org.