Getting Sober for Good Is An Inside Job

Quitting alcohol requires more than just a plug in the jug. That’s just the surface of sobriety.  Eventually, the plug pops off, and Day 1 all over again. True sobriety means digging deep and taking action. But before taking action, I had to learn a few things:

I needed to:

  1. understand why I could not stop after one drink,
  2. take inventory of my poor behaviors,
  3. make amends with those who I hurt, and to
  4. help others.

Before I started the inventory work, I “slipped” twice. I felt a very deep longing to stop drinking, so why did I slip?  I was frightened and confused. Wasn’t it enough that I was free of hangovers? Why didn’t that keep me from picking up again? Why was I beginning to feel irritable and discontent again? Why was I crying all the time? Why was everyone driving me crazy? I was white knuckling it and doubted I could stay sober.

I was told that drinking alcoholically was not the problem.  Drinking was a symptom of my problems. Quitting booze alone would never fix the real problems of my life. I had to peel the layers, so to speak, and take a hard look at my character defects.

Some defects include,

  • self- loathing
  • self -pity
  • resentful
  • judgmental
  • controlling
  • fearful
  • anxious
  • anger
  • dishonest
  • pessimistic

Facing my defects would take diligence and determination. That meant working closely with another recovering alcoholic. I was told that by taking this action, I would stand a much better chance at not slipping up again, or worse, full blown relapse. The action I used to take was managing my daily drinking schedule. I counted on the alcohol to get through a difficult day and to make fun times more fun. But that was falling to pieces. Drinking controlled me now. My life was utterly unmanageable.

I decided I would take serious action at managing my program of recovery and see what would happen.

Taking action was emotionally exhausting but also liberating. Digging deep meant admitting that I am not perfect and being honest about poor choices I made as well as how I hurt myself and others.

The most difficult thing I had to revisit was past traumas. It required extensive trauma therapy including EMDR outside of my 12 step recovery program. Doing all of this sober was very difficult at first. I remember I would have dreams of vomiting feces after a more intense session. No numbing agent allowed meant I was really doing the work- no half- measures. I admit, the emotional pain was so excruciating, I feared it would kill me. But each time I let go of horrible experiences, the easier it became and the lighter I felt.

I have to be honest, the process was like an exorcism. It’s no wonder I dreamt such horrid dreams of purging.

Because I was willing to find the courage to take action, an amazing transformation occurred on a very profound level. During this inventory process, I began to feel more calm and at peace. My thinking changed. I stopped blaming everyone and judging everyone. I became compassionate and felt love blooming in my heart. I was experiencing peace and freedom.

I was becoming the most authentic version of myself.  This spiritual transformation was completely unexpected. I had reached a place of emotional sobriety. I had no idea what I was really capable of until I dug deep and got emotionally sober. I felt a tremendous sense of relief.

Arriving at this place in my journey of recovery precipitated a new yearning. I longed to help others newly recovering. Sponsoring other women helps me remember how this program works and where I used to be. I know for sure that I don’t want to go back to that place.

I have so many Sober Gratitudes today. One is that I did not quit on the surface of sober. I dug deep inside of myself; wrestled a few demons and I hope to hold onto my sobriety forever, one day at a time.

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