Most addicts and alcoholics cannot conceive of just how good their life could be in sobriety.
I can remember when I was still stuck in active addiction and I was struggling with alcoholism on a daily basis. My mind was so twisted that I actually felt sorry for people who were clean and sober, because they were “missing out” on getting drunk and high every day, like me. I felt sorry for “normal” people.
Eventually I got to be more and more miserable in my addiction and that started to change a bit. I started to realize that I had been somehow cheated, that drugs and alcohol had not kept the promise that they once made to me–that I could be happy at any instant just by drinking or using a substance. I was slowly starting to figure out that I was miserable, and that if I continued to self medicate I was always going to be miserable.
It took a long time for this to fully sink in. Several years, in fact. I was miserable for a long time while my brain attempted to find a way out of this trap. I honestly had no hope at all that I could be clean and sober while also being happy in my future. I did not believe that it was possible–for me. Maybe some other people could be happy in sobriety, but I would be downright miserable, because drugs and alcohol were the only thing in the world that ever made me truly happy.
Or so I thought.
But eventually I reached the point of surrender, and I got a glimpse of the truth–which was that I would always be miserable in my addiction. There was no escape. I could cut back on the booze and the drugs for a while, then go “all in” again and have fun for about 5 seconds, and then I would be miserable again. I could clearly see that finally, how my tolerance was cheating me out of the “fun” I once had while getting drunk and high. It was over, the fun was all gone, it was time to face reality. I surrendered and asked for help. I became willing to face the fear of sobriety, to see what rehab would do for me.
I was terrified of sobriety, but I had finally reached the point in which I was sick of being miserable, and I could see that the misery had no end to it. I had finally broken through my denial and seen that the addiction was the cause of the misery.
So I went to rehab and my life started to slowly improve. During that first week or two in rehab, I went from being about a 1 or a 2 on the happiness scale to being maybe a 4 or a 5. I wasn’t jumping for joy just yet, but I was definitely happier than I thought I would be already.
And so I started to work a recovery program and rebuild my life. I was still basing my idea of happiness on being drunk or high, so I wasn’t exactly joyful at this point. But I was working on it.
And I could see others in recovery who had been around for a while–the people who came in and did the AA and NA meetings. The therapists who were in recovery who worked at the rehab. I could see that these people were happy, and I projected that maybe this would be me some day. I might have 5, 10 years sober one day, and be content and happy like they were. And I imagined that their level of happiness was about an 8 or so on the happiness scale. And I thought: Maybe I can be an 8 on the happiness scale some day in my recovery. Maybe I can be content too.
Well, here is the kicker: Today, over 17 years later, I am not an 8 on the happiness scale. I would say I am more like a 10!
The reason that I say this is because when you are struggling to get clean and sober, and you are projecting what real happiness might look like in your future, you have no real way to judge the potential. You don’t know what 10 years of sobriety is going to be like, or how much positive stuff can happen and accumulate in that kind of time frame.
In short, the newcomer is grossly underestimating just how happy and amazing their life can be in long term sobriety.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
When I was at maybe 18 months clean and sober I was already amazed at just how happy and impressive my new experience in life had become. Things were already so much better, so incredibly good when compared to my life in addiction.
Now if you multiply that time frame by a factor of 10 you get to where I am today, which is the amazing part that you could never possibly imagine: I have amazing relationships, amazing work that I get to do (multiple jobs actually), and an abundance and richness in life that almost seems unfair. I have to stop and ask myself “how did I get so lucky, that I was able to escape the chains of addiction, and now I get to experience all of this freedom and happiness and richness of life?”
If you are struggling with addiction and you surrender, go to rehab, and start working a program, then there are only two possible outcomes: One, you screw up and fall back into addiction. Two, you push forward and you seek continuous self improvement to the point that you build an amazing new life for yourself.
With addicts and alcoholics there really is no middle ground. We don’t want a middle ground; it’s too boring for us. We want to be delighted and amused and joyful. So we either build that life in recovery or we end up seeking those things through our addiction and we relapse.
What I am telling you today is this: It’s worth the journey. It’s worth all the hard work.
And it is a lot of hard work. No doubt, you are going to have the fight of your life if you are struggling to find recovery.
But it is worth it. You can be far happier in your recovery then you ever dreamed possible.
And what you thought was a “10” on the happiness scale is really only a 7 or an 8. Once you get some sober time under your belt and you start really working on self improvement you will realize that you had undershot by quite a bit when it comes to freedom, happiness, and joy.
The sky is the limit, and your new life in recovery is just waiting for you to discover it. And all you have to do is surrender completely, get out of your own way, and ask for help. Humble yourself and seek direction, seek treatment. Ask for help and then start taking advice.
Each day your life will get a little bit better. After a few months you will be shocked at how good it is already. But quite honestly that is just the tip of the iceberg, and you have no idea what can happen after several years of dedicated self improvement.
Fasten your seat belt and get ready for the ride of your life. Call a rehab center today and let’s do this thing!