I still remember it clear as day.
I was a few days into my stay in a drug rehab in Philadelphia where I grew up. My beard was long, my hair was long, I was malnourished and scared. I tried my best to wear my “I got this” face. In my heart, I knew that I was terrified and that the jig was up.
I had suffered so much with my addiction, yet I was still afraid to let it go. I had been living my life in fear. Drugs and alcohol were the only way I knew to cope with fear. It was all I had to help me enjoy myself.
At this moment, I had been having a conversation with some of the counselors who worked at the treatment center I was staying at. I was opening up to them about what was really the biggest fear I had.
I was scared that without the drugs or alcohol, I wasn’t going to have fun anymore.
If You Feel This Way, You’re Not Alone
The longer I have been sober the more I discover what a common fear this actually is. As painful as addiction was, there were still parts of it that were comforting to me.
The truth is, I really enjoyed the chaos that the heavy drug use brought to me. I enjoyed the rush, I lived for it. I enjoyed the late nights and the loud music. I enjoyed waking up with bruises and not knowing how I got them. It was a lot of fun.
Until it wasn’t.
I didn’t know another way. When I was younger I remember loving to read and playing my guitar and running through the woods where I grew up. I didn’t do any of that anymore. I had become trapped in the cycle that we know all too well.
I was in a real dilemma. On one side, I knew that I had this lifestyle that made me feel alive. I knew that at least for a moment, I could count on it to help me not feel the pain I was in.
On the other side, I knew that if I kept this up I was eventually going to die. I tried to manage my addiction and I tried to live in moderation. I could never do it. Towards the end, I was completely convinced that it was either one or the other. I had to decide which life I wanted.
I didn’t want to die. But I was terrified of being bored. What was I going to do?
It Took Some Getting Used To
Yes, it was uncomfortable at first.
I found myself uncomfortable in situations in which I used to thrive. For instance, the first concert I went to in recovery was a bit scary. I had about a year sober and I went with one of my friends and supports so I wasn’t scared to drink. I was scared because I wasn’t comfortable letting loose in the way I had been before. I loved that feeling. Was it gone forever?!
I love concerts. I love them. If sobriety meant that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy concerts anymore, that would have been a huge problem for me. It just takes time.
In my experience, I have yet to find a magic formula that helps with the nerves and anxiety in social situations in sobriety. It is a matter of practice. You have to practice being yourself. You have to learn how to step outside of your comfort zone and learn how to relate to people without the buffer of drugs of alcohol.
You have to try a little bit each day. Eventually, I found that it was easier and more enjoyable to be sober.
Imagine that. Sobriety was more fun than drinking. How could that be?
There Is Nothing Left To Fear
I admit, there are days when I miss the rush, although those days are few and far between. Without a doubt, I have more fun in sobriety then I did in addiction.
The reason being that in sobriety, I have nothing to fear or nothing to prove in situations where I felt as though I needed to behave a certain way. I remember so vividly being at parties feeling like I “needed” to be intoxicated because I was funnier and more lively and a better person to talk to. That’s ridiculous.
With sobriety and hard work and self-reflection, I have found it much easier to be myself. I know what I like. I know who I am and I know what I enjoy. Now that I know all of that, it makes it much easier to actually get out and do things.
That rat race is over and I’m content with the person I have become.
I think back to those days in rehab. I remember the exact moment thinking to myself “if being sober means being bored then I don’t think this is for me.” I remember my counselor telling me that life was more enjoyable in sobriety. I remember wanting to believe him but still having this voice in the back of my head telling me that he was lying.
I’m so happy that I took him on his word. I am so happy that I stuck it out and gave myself a chance to live the life I have always wanted.
I laugh more today than I ever have and that feels really good.
Founder of SoberNation.com