‘What I Wish I’d Known When I First Got Sober’

‘What I Wish I’d Known When I First Got Sober’While it’s not possible to go back in time and orchestrate a “do-over” of our lives, there is a silver lining to some bad experiences. We can sometimes use them to help others get through a tough time — including early recovery. Here, in the second part of our series in which we ask a handful of leading recovery bloggers to share their best hard-won advice, we posed a question to five writers who’ve been on the sober path between three and 15 years: What do you wish you’d heard or been told when you were first getting sober? Read what they have to say, then tell us what helped you the most and what you share with others who are early in their sobriety. (Up next in the series: “My Best Tip for Dealing with Cravings.”)

Veronica Valli, Recovery Rocks blogger and author of Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom
Sobriety Date: May 2, 2000
I wish I had known … “that the answers are all internal, not external. I wasted time looking for solutions by trying to change my ‘outsides’ when really it was my ‘insides’ that needed re-arranging. Recovery is an inside job.”

Jennifer Matesa, Guinevere Gets Sober, Addiction.com blogger and author of The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober
Sobriety Date: January 3, 2010
I wish I had known … “that my body would heal, without a doubt. I detoxed in 2008 from an enormous level of fentanyl, a prescription painkiller that packs much stronger firepower than morphine or even heroin. In detox, my body felt almost dead. My post-acute withdrawal experience lasted for months: sweating, kicking, sneezing, goose bumps and deathly fatigue. I’d lay in bed for months absolutely certain that I’d f*cked up my body and brain forever. I came across this new research in neuroplasticity — the human body’s amazing gift and power of being able to heal its own central nervous system — but as I’d lay on the bed shivering and reading, I didn’t believe it. I had been taught that once the brain and nervous system are damaged, they never heal. But I was wrong: We do heal – as long as we get out of the way and allow that healing to happen. I abstained from drugs, which was essential, and when I started exercising and eating well, that’s when I was able to make leaps and bounds in terms of true healing.”

Josie Carr, The Miracle Is Around the Corner blogger
Sobriety Date: January 27, 2012
I wish I had known … “that no one cares if you are not drinking! No one cares if you have to leave a party early, or better still, if you need to decline an invitation in order to protect your sobriety. And it’s not about taking an ad out in the paper announcing your sobriety; it’s as simple as saying ‘no.’ You don’t have to explain; you just have to do what keeps you sober. What beverage is in your glass or why you choose to attend or decline a function is truly none of anyone’s business. If I could have gotten that through my thick skull, my sobriety date would be a lot earlier than it is now.”
Julie Elsdon-Height, Sober Julie blogger
Sobriety Date: February 6, 2010
I wish I had known … “that as we walk the path of sobriety things are revealed to us as we need them, or as we can handle [them]. Thankfully, because of my 12-step program I knew there was hope; I saw it in the lives of others who went before me. If anything, I wish I had taken the step to ask for help sooner.”
Jean Greer McCarthy, UnPickled and Addiction.com blogger
Sobriety Date: March 20, 2011
I wish I had known … “how great it is to be around other people in recovery. Most of us are just ordinary men and women with everyday lives, not the extreme stereotypes we see in movies. I never dreamed I would find so many others just like me, or that recovery would give me common ground to understand those who are different. There is something special that happens in the company of another person who knows the journey. Whether we are laughing over a latte or sitting in silence at a yoga retreat, we keep each other going. I never expected to find that kind of friendship in other sober people.”​

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