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When I first ventured into sobriety two years ago, a family friend, who is also sober, said to me: “You’ll be amazed how full your life can be.” At the time, I didn’t believe that. My life was full when I was drinking—at least I thought it was.
It took some time, but eventually I realized that what I thought was a full life was really just a lot of shallowness and superficiality that I mistook as meaningful. Two years later, and I’ve realized what that family friend meant. My life is so much fuller than I ever anticipated, and I owe it all to sobriety.
Here’s what I’ve gained:
1. Confidence. Sure, I was confident when I was drinking…after about four drinks. Prior to that, I was always insecure even if it wasn’t outwardly apparent. Since getting sober, I’ve realized what real confidence feels like. While I’m not always 100% happy with myself, I feel a lot more secure in who I am and who I want to be, and less concerned about what others think about my choices. Being confident is a hell of a lot less draining than being insecure.
2. Love. For the first time in years, someone loves me as much as I love them. I’m in a happy, loving, reciprocated relationship, something I never accomplished when I was drinking. Drinking turned me into a person I wasn’t. I would do and say things I didn’t mean and sabotage any relationship or potential relationship I had. My boyfriend drinks, and that’s okay. He understands that I don’t, and that I have my reasons.
3. Meaningful relationships. Not necessarily romantic ones, either. Getting sober allows you to realize who really wants to be in your life, and who was more of a party friend. Sometimes these realizations hurt, but it’s for the better. I’d rather have a smaller amount of true, authentic relationships than a large amount of superficial ones.
4. Respect. I never realized how much shame I carried as a result of losing people’s respect. Before drinking, I had always been a respectable person. I was responsible, smart and made good decisions. Drinking made all of that obsolete. From the moment I started college on a drinking note, I made a reputation for myself. And it wasn’t a good one. In the time since getting sober, I’ve been able to gain back the respect of most people in my life. I’m so thankful I didn’t do irreversible damage because I probably would have, had I kept drinking.