What Does A Sober Life Look Like?
“When we first came into A.A., a sober life seemed strange. We wondered what life could possibly be like without ever taking a drink. At first, a sober life seemed unnatural. But the longer we’re in A.A., the more natural this way of life seems. And now we know that the life we’re living in A.A., the sobriety, the fellowship, the faith in God, and the trying to help each other, is the most natural way we could possibly live.” (Twenty-Four Hours A Day, January 14)
When practicing addicts hear the word “sober” they immediately think of an eternity of boredom, drudgery, suffering, loneliness, anxiety, or just plain blah. As we stand at the edge of the diving board, trying to decide if we really want to dive into this program, we can’t help thinking of all of the fun nights we won’t be having, the awkward explanations for why we aren’t drinking, the new un-fun persona we imagine we’ll have to assume, and all the friends who will eventually stop calling. This is the reward for giving up booze?
For a while there is no way around it—we’re going to feel a little like fish out of water. Whether we like to admit it or not, we have built our lives around our behaviors and substances of choice. The prospect of a day or night without our fix made us uneasy, apprehensive, and anxious—provoking a feeling of dread. Unwilling to walk through the space of time without our drug of choice, we abandoned our plan to make a go of it sober and headed back to the welcoming arms of our old friend and nemesis.
But there came a day when there was no choice. We couldn’t keep up the drinking game any longer. If we were going to actually live and avoid certain alcoholic death, we were going to have to muster the courage to try sobriety.
But then something interesting happens. What we thought would be drudgery turns out to be delight. This has been true for many people and it can be true for you too.
In sobriety, life becomes something to live—an event for which to be present—not a doom from which we need to escape. Suddenly we find that we enjoy our days without alcohol and that we are seeing and experiencing the world in a new way. It is not boring—it is exhilarating.
New pleasures are discovered. When we drank we only thought of the euphoric rush of getting our fix and escaping even the smallest of irritations and anxieties. But in sobriety we learn how to meet life and how to embrace it—even in the challenges. We notice beauty, we learn new skills, we give our time to new activities, we feel ourselves growing stronger and developing as people. Life is full and rich and soon we don’t even miss alcohol.
Loneliness slips away in favor of real relationships. Though we often drank in the presence of others, our real date was with the booze. It was with alcohol that we felt we could be ourselves—whomever that was. We struggled to form real relationships of mutual trust and love with other people. We feared vulnerability. But in recovery we are learning how to give and take, how to be a friend, how to serve, and how to love. Our life is filling up with people who care about us and we are seeing the joys of authentic relationships—joys which alcohol could never provide.
Sobriety comes first. We never thought we’d say that sobriety and the program were our number one priorities, but we are learning that the new life we are becoming accustomed to, and even beginning to cherish, is utterly dependent upon it. We don’t handle these blessings carelessly. We know we are always just one sip away from where we were, and now we can’t bear the thought of going back.
“I realized that I had to separate my sobriety from everything else that was going on in my life. No matter what happened or didn’t happen, I couldn’t drink. In fact, none of these things that I was going through had anything to do with my sobriety; the tides of life flow endlessly for better or worse, both good and bad, and I cannot allow my sobriety to become dependent on these ups and downs of living. Sobriety must have a life of its own.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, He Only Lived To Drink, 451)
Want to get your Sober Life with the 12 Step Program? Think it’s just for Christians? Read: Recovery Myth-Buster: A.A. Is A Christian Organization