#9: Do Things Get Better in Sobriety?

Hi Laura,

I wanted to reach out and say hi. I heard you on the Since Right Now podcast and then just checked out your blog, which I really like. I'm 42 years old and 44 days sober today! I drank fairly regularly for 20 years and was up to almost a bottle a day before I quit. I felt tired and achy all the time but the thing that really bothered me was that I needed alcohol to enjoy anything. If it didn't involve drinking, I didn't want to do it. I sometimes used to have a glass of wine before walking my dog for god sakes. So now I feel like I'm coming back to life so to speak. 

Question: I am loving hearing about people's 'progression' as time passed. Did you feel better overall at 6 months than you did at 2 months? Have things gotten better and better? 

I struggle with the passing of time, especially as I enter into this weird middle age phase (I also don't have kids and am trying to come to terms with that window closing). Thinking that the 2nd half of my life could be that much better than my drinking years is really exciting and helps with this aging pressure I've been feeling. I'm feeling really good right now - physically much better, I'm more engaged with life and feel calmer, more motivated, etc. I'm hopeful this is the start of something great.

Thanks for all your work and inspiration!

-Hopeful


Hi, Hopeful,

Elizabeth Gilbert posted on her recent birthday that getting older is the best thing she’s ever done. I know for sure (I’m nodding even as I write) that the only reason I can wholeheartedly agree and raise my fists to the sky in response to that sentiment is because I got sober over a year ago.

Have things steadily improved since Day 1? Yes, but in a circular, zig-zag, upward-and-downward-and-all-around-but-definitely-more-trending-up-over-time way. Some things improved immediately; not being physically hungover is a colossal relief, for starters. But other things got worse, like my social anxiety (what does one do with their hands when they’re not drinking?), and at times, my loneliness. There have been surprising upsides and even more surprising challenges.

Mary Karr says in her memoir Lit“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There's an initial uprush of relief at first, then-for me, anyway- a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren't yet operational."

This has been my experience. Getting sober has been a difficult, beautiful game of dislocation and re-assembly. Nothing is as it once was, because I am not as I once was. And all because I started to not drink. Every day I seem to change, sometimes every minute. Is it an upward progression? Totally, but a messy one. 

Artist: Tammi Salas

Artist: Tammi Salas

You talk about reconciling with where you are in your life, closing a chapter on certain things, and welcoming what's to come. A friend of mine talks about how at the end of his drinking, all five of his children had cut off contact with him. His friend, sober for many years, promised him that if he got sober and did the work in recovery, he may or may not get his kids back in his life, but that he'd be okay and at peace, however it turned out. Isn't that an incredible promise? 

I'm only just beginning, but I could have never predicted what my life would look like--especially my inner life --before I started this journey. It is far more magical in reality.

Everything you wrote in your letter fills me with hope and optimism for you. You should be excited. This is the start of something great. I cannot think of a better way to spend the second half of your life than being awake for it.


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