Sobriety is rad AF.
Did I just say that? Yes, I did. Three years ago, when I was new to recovery, I never would have imagined thinking that sobriety was cool. But it is. Sobriety is the greatest gift I have ever received. I didn’t ask for this gift; it asked for me. I never would have believed that I could live a sober, spiritual, and connected life. Pre-sobriety, I believed that I would live a successful, wealthy, and perfect life. My goal wasn’t to find inner peace or to be helpful to others—my goal was to climb the ladder of success, so I could appear and/or feel powerful. Pre-sobriety, my life was about accomplishments, praise from others, and power.
Today, my life is about gratitude, connection, vulnerability, and authenticity. I am the unapologetically me. This is what sobriety gave me—it blessed me with the ability to be my real self.
Here are the top 5 reasons why I love being sober:
1. I no longer have to put on a mask or pretend to be what you want me to be.
I get to be me, in all my imperfection and glory. I show up every day, as myself. Nothing more and nothing less. Pre-sobriety, I had expectations about how my life should or would turn out. None of those expectations came true, no matter how hard I tried to make them come true. I believe that your life is your life, and it will end up exactly as it was meant to. When you show up as your authentic self, with the mask removed, you lose expectations about what should or shouldn’t be and you come to understand that the true gift is being able to be present in the now and show up just as you are.
2. I found my people.
When you choose to live an examined life, some friendships will fall away. Other friendships will grow stronger. I’ve always had a number of friends in my life, and many of them have stayed with me throughout my addiction and into my sobriety. I’ve had to apologize to some of my friends and make amends because I’ve hurt them. However, there were other friendships that were built on falsehoods and partying, and those friendships fell away. In sobriety, I discovered what was important to me: vulnerability, honesty, empathy, and compassion. I started building friendships with women who understood me. They were deeper than the happy hour friendships that I’d made previously. The friends in my life today have shown up for me in ways previously unimaginable. I am so grateful for the family of friends I have built. I have learned how to be a true friend and how to make friendships in realness, truth, and authenticity.
3. I live for something greater than myself.
I grew up in church, yet I never felt I had a purpose greater than myself. There were times when I was an active member of my church and there were other times when I failed to believe in God. Religion was something I’d always struggled with. I tend to shy away from dogma. There’s a saying that goes, “Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell, and spirituality is for people who have already been there.” I never thought that I would be grateful for my addiction, but I am. Because I’ve been through hell and I know there is a way out, I am able to help other people who are struggling. I have a purpose and it involves being of service and saving lives. It is so much greater than me.
4. I stay with myself and I grow stronger.
Rumi says, “The cure for the pain is in the pain.” Avoiding pain is a learned behavior. When I was younger, I remember my outlet for pain was in poetry. I was able to put my feelings into words, and when I read them on paper, the pain was released. Over time, I learned instead to hide my pain. And when I couldn’t hide my pain any longer, I started drinking and using to cover it up. I always tried to escape feeling human emotions like sadness, disappointment, grief, or loss. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was struggling. I wanted to appear like everything was “fine.” I put on a happy face even when I was hurting and I escaped my pain in unhealthy ways. Today, when I am hurting I realize that pain is a normal human emotion. I stay with my pain because I have learned that when I don’t escape my pain or run from it, I grow stronger. I became a woman who, as the poet Oriah Mountain Dreamer so eloquently describes, is able to “sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.”
5. I don’t have to drink to have fun.
YOLO. When I was young, I remember how much fun I had just being with friends, exploring, playing games, asking questions, being curious, dancing, and laughing. It didn’t involve drinking and forgetting what I did the next day. It involved making connections with people who mattered and living in the moment. Glennon Doyle Melton says, “Dancing sober is just honest, passionate living.” My greatest moments of joy are in the tiny experiences of life when I am totally present and aware. I never would have recognized these moments before, because I would have been in an altered or intoxicated state. I would have missed out on the true connections that exist when I am vulnerable, present, passionate, and aware.