Most of us can relate to the overwhelming feeling of comfort and belonging that came at once with the first drink. All at once, all of the internal commotion and chaos came to a close, and for once – for the first time in what may have seemed like forever – we felt okay. Everything was okay. We were finally a part of something; we finally fit in. For many of us, the lifelong love affair only continued to pick up momentum from that point forward. We were sold. We knew where to turn when we felt sad, angry, lonely, tired, insignificant, bored… alcohol would always have our backs. Or whatever chemical substance was available – it usually didn’t matter much. We became addicted to escaping reality.
And then it stopped being fun, and it stopped being easy, and we started to lose a grasp of who we were. We started to hate who we had become, and we started to cause our friends and family members immense amounts of pain. Our parents stayed up at night worrying where we were; worrying whether or not we were alive. We began slipping up in all areas of life. Our ambitions rapidly dissipated; our priorities shifted abruptly. Soon, we were living and breathing to escape. Nothing else mattered. We were killing ourselves and our loved ones, and we didn’t care because we couldn’t care. Because nothing else mattered.
And then we were introduced to the concept of recovery. Maybe it was shoved down our throats by a circle of concerned and crying loved ones and a mechanical interventionist. Maybe we had a close friend who had recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body, and we watched in awe as he got it all back and became truly happy. Regardless of how it was that we were exposed to it, we eventually surrendered. The pain had become too great to bear, and we threw up our hands in bitter exasperation and we said, “Okay. Okay. Whatever it takes.” And then we began on our journeys, and we felt a bit better. And then we were told that recovery was forever. That we had a chronic and relapsing disease of the brain, and that in order to live productive and meaningful lives, we would need to commit to total abstinence – forever.
We were immediately overwhelmed by the severity of this. A lifetime without booze? A lifetime without any mood or mind altering substances whatsoever? Our minds began to race. What about toasting at midnight on New Years, or raising a glass of champagne at our wedding? Times were going to get tough again, they were bound to. And how would we cope when they did?
Fortunately, the process of recovery occurs one day at a time. We need not worry about the upcoming years – we need not worry about tomorrow, in fact. So long as we focus on the day at hand (and practice learning to live in the present moment) we will be just fine. Before we know it, we will have an entire year of clean time under our belts… and then two… and then five, and then ten, and so on and so forth. Soon, we will grow accustomed to being functional members of society that don’t drink, rather than alcoholics trying to stay sober. It will get better and it will get easier, and soon it won’t even be an issue at all. Just let time do its thing, and try as hard as you can to trust the process. Everything is unfolding just as it is meant to.