There are some men and women who decide to get sober when they hit middle age, oftentimes having drank a good part of their adult lives. Although getting into recovery at any age is wonderful, it can lead to some feelings of guilt about the past or apprehension about truly getting a fresh start. Although some men and women begin drinking in middle age, many times to cope with loneliness, divorce or feeling a lack of purpose, others who have been drinking all along find themselves itching for a new life in sobriety.
If you’re wondering how to navigate a sober life when you’ve becomes so used to dealing with life issues with alcohol, here are 6 tips to keep in mind as you tread towards a more vibrant, beautiful life.
1. Realize guilt is not always a bad thing.
Guilt is most likely going to creep in at some point. Perhaps you weren’t really there for your children as you’d like to have been or maybe your relationship suffered. Or you could have struggled financially or simply not succeeded in the way you thought you should have.
You may think guilt is always a negative thing, but it is actually a feeling that can expose bad behavior for what it was and prompt us to make an active change. Guilt means you’ve done something you consider bad, but it does not mean that you are bad. If you feel guilty about something in the past, learn from it. Acknowledge that the behavior was not optimal. Yes, you do feel remorse over it. Let the feeling cause you to apologize to yourself and others if others are involved, then let go of your guilt.
2. Make amends.
If you’re working the 12-Steps, Step 9 deals with making amends to those you have hurt in the past. Making amends simply means being willing to say you’re sorry for your actions and restore what you can restore. If you feel remorse, then you can ask for forgiveness. You may not always get forgiveness right away, but that’s alright. You’ve done your part. Making amends means saying you’re sorry and making right what you can make right. If you've stolen $50 from someone, for example, you can make amends by apologizing and paying that person back.
3. Begin a journey to self-love.
Hop on the self-love train and embark on a journey to loving yourself deeply. You may have spent the last couple of decades beating yourself up and suffer from confidence issues. Many entering sobriety do, but moving forward can get you excited about a new start. After all, getting sober at any age is worthy of applause. While you may have some regrets, almost everyone does by the time the reach middle age. As you move forward in your new life, accept yourself just as you are—a beautiful work in progress.
4. Set new goals.
You can now create a new life sober and free. Sit down and create new goals. Reinvent yourself. You have got some wisdom under your belt simply by being alive for so many years. Now it’s time to get out there and live the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of. Make new friends. Travel more often. Go for that career you’ve always dreamed of. Start dating again or start a new hobby. Whatever it is you decide to do, know that you are just as worthy as anybody else of living a beautiful life of peace and joy.
5. Go Travel.
Many times, the middle age years opens men and women up to enjoying some time for themselves as children grow up and head off to live life independently. This may be the first time in decades that you’re actually free from parenting demands, so take this opportunity to travel near or far. You can take small vacations or long sabbaticals to see the world and get to know yourself in a new season. Rediscover who you are without the kids and without the alcohol. Take in the beauty of the world and experience new cultures. For many, the middle age years can be such an exciting time.
6. Value your time.
Many people in their latter years will tell you that their middle age years were the best years of their lives. One reason is that the first ten to twenty years of their adult lives they were navigating life and tripping up plenty of times. They were trying new things, making mistakes, and were perhaps addicted to alcohol during those years. By the time they got to the middle age, they had learned valuable life lessons and applied them to their lives and, as a result, life went much smoother.
Remember, your middle age years could be the best years yet, but you'll have to consciously forgive yourself about the past. While it may take you a while to feel free, do what you can to make good decisions for your life one day at a time. In the process, you may find yourself restoring relationships that have been hampered, looking forward to new milestones and ultimately creating a life that you absolutely love.