So, I'm not gonna sugarcoat this, and I won't bore you with a long intro. Let's just get straight to the meat, shall we? Here are 5 hard truths I learned in early sobriety.
1. You will be emotional- You're no longer numbing out and the feelings will hit in waves, so you better learn to surf. You will feel sad, angry, irritable, lonely, overwhelmed, and afraid. Did I mention sad? You will throw at least one full blown toddler tantrum (I threw several). In those moments of pain, let those feelings come (don't run or suppress them). There's no easy way through it, so rip off that bandaid and just feel it all. The only way to get through pain is to wear that sh*t like a Versace. That's the only way to heal.
2. You will be uncomfortable- I was embarrassed about being sober. I worried about what people would think, say, ask (OMG I'm gonna have to answer questions?!) I didn't wanna explain myself. You will feel awkward, anxious, and judged because you are going against the norm. (you REBEL, you!) And, some people will say some really stupid things. Just stay true to you; trust your journey, and embrace the vulnerability. Hell, even fake it til ya make it. Eventually, these feelings of insecurity will lessen in frequency and fade into the background. You'll become comfortable with your sobriety. You will be proud of it and wear it like a badge of honor.
3. You will be restless- Once I put down the bottle and the dust settled, I realized I had absolutely NO idea who I was or what I was gonna do with myself. The best advice I can give you is to distract yourself. Read a book. Pray. Meditate. Explore a new hobby. Get your ass to the gym. Volunteer at a food pantry. Clean out your closet. Journal. Weed your flowerbed. Travel. Watch a sunset. Fill your time. Then something magical will happen...while you're busy distracting yourself you'll 'accidentally' end up creating a life for yourself. Aha! Plot twist!
4. You will need people- Ughhh! You mean I have to ask for help?! Yes! Do not isolate. You will need support. Find a sober community. Go to a meeting. (I did both, and also found a rockstar therapist). Hit social media to find a sober network or recovery coach. Connect with genuine people (and lose those toxic, drinking, chaotic ones). One of the scariest things I have ever done was approach a complete stranger at a meeting. "Hi, I'm Rachel. Can I have your number?" Her name was Jen, and she's one of my best friends today. It's also worth mentioning that I have an incredible army of support through Instagram.
5. You will not be perfect- I wanted instant gratification. I thought that since I'd put down the bottle, everything would just fall away. I thought I would heal immediately. POOF! Instant zen and rainbows (man I was delusional, ha!). It totally doesn't work like that. You will have hard days; you will struggle. You will stumble. You will not always feel grounded, grateful or happy, so do not put that kind of pressure on yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Allow yourself the space and time to evolve, no matter the pace. We didn't develop these unhealthy behaviors overnight, and we certainly won't undo them overnight either. Remember, little steps lead to big destinations. (Yes, that's cheesy, but it's totally true).
Getting sober was the hardest thing I've ever done. I started with just one breath, one hour, one day. Today I have 838 days. It takes work, and it requires tremendous discipline. So buckle up and dig in with both heels. Recovery is the absolute bravest thing you can do, and it is the greatest form of self love. I promise you will not regret it!