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Five Years Sober. What I've Learned So Far

Old 10-14-2017, 11:18 AM
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Five Years Sober. What I've Learned So Far

Hi, my fellow SR members.

As you may know from another thread here Iíve reached 5 years milestone today.

And you know...Not as if I am counting...But I am counting. Not everyday counting as Day 1, Day 2, Day 12. But October 14 stands out for me now as a day when my life changed. I wouldnít exaggerate to call it my second Birthday.

By the way, I am ok with counting as far as I donít see a certain number of sober days as an indicator that now I can drink in moderation or have ďjust oneĒ. I canít.

Rather it shows me how far I can go. And that one seemingly small change in a lifestyle (just stop buying and drinking wine) multiplied by a distance of five years can result in mind-blowing changes.

So, five years ago I just stopped. Had my last drink late at night on October 13, found SR, logged in, and never had alcohol since then.

And every year I am looking forward to October 14 as my day of miracle. Something that was hard to imagine became reality.

To be honest, I am a little bit moody today. I donít know why. For some reason my emotions failed to be in ďpeak conditionĒ for my big day. Itís ok, though.

For my anniversary thread I usually write where I was both physically and emotionally and where I am now. It shows what a person can achieve when free of alcohol influence.

Today my emotions donít respond to my achievements. I am not ďachievement-oriented happyĒ today. Itís ok too. Tomorrow my emotions will wake up. And I will proceed exactly where I put my good mood on pause. Natural cycle of things. My achievements wonít go anywhere.

But that's not the way it work when I drank. Bad mood was aggravated with destructive influence of alcohol.

Five years ago I was desperate. I had no job and my housing situation was extremely unstable. Aftermath from my childhood trauma still kept me awake lots of nights. I had no idea where to begin to start fixing this mess. I turned out the right start was to quit wine.

Now I have a job, my own apartment, new friends, new hobbies, majorly improved self-confidence. Not perfect by any means. But so me.

Just the other Sunday, on my way back from the gym I had the first, though fleeting, spark of feeling that I am proud of who I am. Unapologetically. No ifs. Iíve been through hell. Iíve survived. I am working on being better. I am proud.

So, whatí Iíve learned:
  • The first year, especially first three months is all about staying sober. The body and brain adjust to functioning without alcohol. Emotions are all over the place. I am rebuilding my life to live it happily without alcohol. Itís not rare to hear that first months of sobriety feel like a part-time (or even full-time) job. It is. But my drinking used to consume time worth of part-time job. And somehow it never bothered me. ďBefore you start doing things better you have to stop doing things worseĒ. If I donít drink today I am already in a better place compared to yesterday.
  • So, take it easy. Donít throw too much on yourself. Avoid unnecessary stress. I was so inspired by getting and staying sober that wanted to accomplish a thousand of high-profile achievements within the first year. Not the best idea. Staying sober goes first.
  • Plan is your best friend. Itís a must to plan for weekends, dangerous situations which trigger cravings, stressful events and job-related activities. In early sobriety if you rely on ďIíll figure it out somehowĒ, the power of addiction is still too strong to confront it unprepared.
  • Keep building your sobriety system every day. The more tools I have in my sobriety box - the better. Exercising, online-classes, meditation, SR and whatever helps to beat the cravings. Create the system which works for you. There are no dogmas or one-fits-and-works-for-all solutions.
  • Accept cyclical nature of life. Highs and lows. Donít beat yourself over lows. Donít get too excited about highs. Learn to benefit from both.
  • Donít be afraid to let ďfriendsĒ go. Those who belong to your alcohol-free life will stay there. Those who measure quality of friendship based on amount of alcohol shared are not real friends.
  • Challenge and re-assess believes and values regularly. After five years it became clear most of the values I used to hold to were not mine. And that is why I felt so lost. And scared. And unloved. At some point I let myself got lost. Itís ok. I found my way out.
  • Sobriety is superpower against fears. Fear exists in psychological time, when I give it my brain space and emotional resources. When I used to numb myself with wine fear didnít go anywhere but used this time to grow 100 times bigger and stronger. Clear analysis of a situation and a timely action beat most of fear easily.
  • Aim for such a life that, as Richard Branson said, you are so ďhigh on lifeĒ you donít even need any stimulants. Never cease learning and being curious.
  • Sober is new normal. Why most people start drinking in the first place? Because everyone does. Who said I should do what everyone else does?

There is so much more, but I''d better stop here.

To sum it up - I am darn glad I made this decision five years ago.

I hope my cloudy mood didnít rain on the post which was supposed to be encouraging.

I canít thank SR enough for changing my life.

Love you all.

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Old 10-14-2017, 11:26 AM
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Awesome post , thank you for sharing,it gives us all hope

Huge congratulations on 5 years as well - thatís just so brilliant !
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:46 AM
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Congratulations MidnightBlue, that is one heck of an accomplishment. Great post.
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:10 PM
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Congrats on five years sober! And thank you for the inspiring thoughts.
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:25 PM
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Your moody mood wasn’t reflected at all in your post—it was beautiful and inspiring!
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:52 PM
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Thanks for sharing, MidnightBlue and congratulations on your achievement.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:06 PM
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Congratulations. Thanks for your Inspiring post.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:29 PM
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MNB: just simply,

lots of congrats and thank you.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:40 PM
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MidnightBlue - massive congratulations on 5 years!!
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:46 PM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences and advice! Congratulations on 5 years sober and living your real life!
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Old 10-14-2017, 02:18 PM
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Congratulations!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Get through these blues and continue on!
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Old 10-14-2017, 02:39 PM
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CONGRATULATIONS on 5 years!!!

That's wonderful. I'm happy for you. Truly a blessing!!

And thank you for sharing. Your points are all spot-on, accurate, and I've experienced them myself as well.

I love to soak up the energy of others who have found the truths of sobriety and seen the promises come true. I appreciate you giving back by taking the time to offer your insights.
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Old 10-14-2017, 03:09 PM
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Congrats on 5 years MNB and thank you for the inspiring post.
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Old 10-14-2017, 04:18 PM
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Thanks for sharing such an inspiring and encouraging message, MB! Happy Sober-versary!
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Old 10-14-2017, 06:16 PM
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5 years is fabulous, MidnightBlue - thank you for the insight. We love you too.
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Old 10-14-2017, 07:31 PM
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Thank you for congrats, guys!

Just woke up after a good refreshing sleep. Blues seem to pass)
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:44 PM
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Congrats, MidnightBlue! As a fellow Octoberist that joined about the same time you did I will say it's awesome to see you have racked up five years sober. Thanks for your insightful and eloquent post, MB! I can appreciate when you say your emotions don't always match up to the accomplishments. I too look forward to my sobriety anniversary as a landmark to observe and reflect on the changes since I quit drinking. So mine was almost two weeks ago and while it was nice, I must admit I was tired and had a long and annoying day at work. Right now I'm kind of ambivalent about my job- but not my career- and kind of frustrated about it. But I also know that the sober me isn't stuck doing it, I now have options.
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:59 PM
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What an inspiring post!! And congratulations MidnightBlue. The 'have a plan' point specifically jumped out at me. Even whilst sober I have found my emotions and life spiraling out of control at times, and I suspect that had/has a lot to do with my 'I'll figure it out somehow' attitude.

I need a daily plan. 7:15am - get up 7:30 - shower 8:00 - breakfast etc etc. I need to write a plan and stick regimentally to it. I need to build a structure, rather than the wishy washy life that I have now, and rid myself of the 'Meh, I'll do it later' attitude that I have.

You post has inspired me to be stricter with myself and get structure in my life. Thank you.
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Old 10-15-2017, 12:53 AM
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What a great, inspiring post. Congratulations to you and thank you so much for sharing this.
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Old 10-15-2017, 06:17 AM
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Thank you, MidnightBlue. It is good to hear the voice of experience, particularly regarding year 1. Your comment on "values" was interesting. I've been thinking about this same issue, having gotten lost inside other people's values, being dragged down by these values for years before finding the light again. I wonder when they got lost and where/when you found them again?
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