10 Things Getting Sober Gave Me. That I Never Expected #sobriety #recovery #sober #awareness
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
I remember this time five years ago. My sister had just gotten engaged and I was not allowed to be a part of the wedding. I had dropped out of school and had nowhere to live. One of the things I will never forget was needing to talk to someone and not having one person I could call. I was lost, lonely and desperate. God somehow intervened and I ended up in a safe place where I could try, yet again, to get sober. It finally took and I have been sober ever since. It has not been an easy road, but it has certainly been worth it. When I find myself struggling, I like to reflect on the things that my sobriety has given me which were all unimaginable at one point in my life. The following are ten things I would certainly not have had I not gotten sober.
1. A clean bill of health. Right before I got sober, I was in and out of the hospital on a regular basis. I was having seizures multiple times a week and never exercised or ate anything nutritional. The only time that I saw a doctor was when I was trying to get some sort of prescription to feed my addiction. Since getting sober, I have been seizure free and I see my family practitioner yearly. I have the ability to take care of myself and my health.
2. A valid driver’s license. Without even realizing it, I had been driving with a suspended license for seven years. It took me a long time to realize this was not normal. When I first got sober, I realized how difficult it was going to be to get everything straightened out with my license. I had a list of outstanding tickets, warrants and fees. I thought I would never have my driver’s license reinstated. After some time, I took the necessary steps and eventually earned my license back. Since getting sober I haven’t had one issue with driving which is a first for me.
3. Friends. When my sister got engaged, she had a hard time choosing her bridesmaids because she had so many friends. I remember thinking that if I ever were to get married, I would have no one to celebrate with. Sobriety gave me the chance to reconnect with friends I had written off years prior and develop new relationships. I had a wonderful group of supportive men and women that were there to celebrate with us when it came time for us to get married
4. A relationship with my sister. I was always closest with my younger brother and after he passed away, I felt like I didn’t really have any siblings because I was never close with my sister. We are very different and had a difficult time relating to one another. When I got sober things started to slowly change and for the first time in my life my sister and I were able to develop a strong and stable relationship. We are supportive of one another and have learned what it means to be a sister to one another.
5. A college degree. I dropped out of UNC Chapel Hill – my dream school – when I was 20 years old. I thought that I would never go back to school and I thought that if I did go back to school my GPA would be so low, I would constantly feel like a failure. After getting sober I was afforded the opportunity to go to a wonderful school in Statesboro and UNC gave me an academic renewal through their Center for Addiction Recovery. I ended up with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In addition, I received a number of scholarships and opportunities that made going back to school even easier. I recently started graduate school and I will owe my master’s degree to my sobriety as well.
6. A purpose. I remember when my days and even years consisted of sleeping until 3pm, pharmacy and drug runs, figuring out ways to get money, broken relationships and going months without talking to my family. I had absolutely no purpose on this earth and my entire life consisting of taking and using people, places and things. Today, I have a purpose. I get the opportunity to work with others and be an asset to other people’s lives. I have a place in my family and my husband’s family. I contribute to the community and work hard at my job and show up on time. I finally have a sense of purpose and can give back to the world instead of just take from it.
7. Teeth! This is a bit misleading – I have always had teeth, but my dental hygiene took a beating when I started to get addicted to the harder drugs. I remember when I had to have a molar extracted and how traumatic that experience was. I was constantly grinding my teeth and eating endless amounts of sugar. I had 11 cavities at one point and no dental insurance. Sobriety gave me the chance to see a dentist and come up with a plan to reverse the damage I had done. My parents agreed when I had a certain amount of time sober, they would help me get things cleaned up. I haven’t had one cavity since getting sober and my teeth are squeaky clean!
8. A clean and functional vehicle. When I finally got permission from both the state and my treatment center to drive, I dreaded getting my car back. Someone had busted open my glove box to steal money and drugs out of it, the door had been replaced and didn’t fit so I could close it all the way. I neglected to change the oil so there were all types of problems with the engine and other problems I didn’t even know about. I didn’t have the ability to take care of myself let alone maintain a vehicle properly. My parents had finally learned about enabling and did not want to reward me for getting sober, so I kept that car for a long time. Eventually, I was able to lease a brand-new car and I have made the payments on time each month. I get the oil changed regularly and when something seems off I have it looked at. Although this seems like common sense to most, this is something I never could have imagined I would be able to do.
9. A relationship with something greater than myself. I always had a difficult time believing that God could keep me sober. For a long time, I was under the impression that the only thing that could keep me sober was myself. In the past my “higher power” was the next codependent relationship or the next bottle of pills. I had been trying to get sober for almost ten years and at some point, I decided that I was incapable. Going through extended treatment gave me the chance to spend time with a sponsor and work out what my higher power was and how to have a relationship with God. Sometimes I work hard at my relationship with God and sometimes I fall short, but the relationship is always present. This relationship is what has kept me sober and it is what this entire list is based on.
10. A spouse. I have been involved in codependent and tumultuous relationships since I can remember. I can recall being a 15-year-old drug addict in the making threatening to hurt myself if my boyfriend didn’t come over. All of my relationships were dramatic, intense and based on dishonesty, drug use and enabling. I finally was allowed to be by myself long enough to understand what a healthy relationship consists of and learn to love myself so that I could properly love others. A wonderful man was put into my life and our relationship is the complete opposite of what I have always known. Sobriety gave me the tools to be in a successful relationship based on trust, accountability and love.
Writing out this list was very therapeutic and humbling. I like to think about the things I have today that are a direct result of sobriety. I am not the exception; I have witnessed dozens of people that have lists very similar to mine. Simply put, it is the gifts of sobriety. I once heard that you can have drugs, or you can have everything. Today, I choose everything.
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