Updated: Apr 26, 2020
When I hit my 13-month sober anniversary (Feb 2020), I decided to write down the 13 most useful lessons I had learnt. After meeting all of the sober people I have met along the way, I now know that everyone's journey is different. These lessons are from my point of view and from my experience only. I hope they help you with your own journey.
1. The first few months are really quite challenging. For me, there were regular tears and a few melt downs. Adjusting to a brand new way of living, without being numbed by alcohol really takes a lot of work to build a solid foundation to base your new life on
2. It’s a roller coaster to begin with, you may not feel ‘normal’ for a while and this is completely OK. Allow yourself the time you need to reset and release yourself from any time pressures - it will take as long as it needs to take for you to feel good. And don't be surprised when you're hit with the pink cloud (feelings of elation and euphoria in early sobriety). Use these moments to get creative, find a musical or artistic outlet or come up with a new business idea!
3. It’s perfectly OK to eat as much sugar as you need to get through the cravings, you can lose the weight later. In early sobriety, do not beat yourself up about overeating or choosing the wrong foods. I am not recommending you eat blocks of chocolate and bags of sweets all day long, just give yourself permission to soothe the alcohol cravings with some of your favorite treats. Just stay sober 4. You WILL lose the weight later. You will have so much more energy to work out & zero McDonalds-reliant hang-overs. I promise! Just do the work and the healing first and the weight loss will follow 5. It’s important to have a few close people you can call upon who love you and you trust to provide you with support, comfort and through mini-mental break-downs. I needed to feel loved during those early weeks and I was lucky I had some close friends to lean on. If you don't have any, try and find some new sober connections either online, or in your community. They are out there! 6. You still may not know whether this is ‘forever’, you’re still toying with the idea of whether you actually have a problem or not (the word ‘alcoholic’ naturally scares the life out of you - so don’t use it!) and that’s OK. This is your call, your journey and only you truly know what’s best for you and your loved ones 7. Breaking any habit or negative behaviour needs to begin with radical self-compassion. Building a deep and loving connection with myself has been the foundation to my sobriety. Also a bomb-proof self-care toolkit that you pull out every day is imperative 8. Falling off the wagon or having a few attempts at sobriety for it to finally stick is all part of the journey. The key is to not beat yourself up, learn the lessons and reset (you don’t need to start at day one, you can pick up where you left off). It took me two attempts at sobriety for it to stick. And that was all meant to happen for me to really know that this is the life I wanted
9. It is possible to have fun without alcohol. It may be a different type of fun but it will happen. In most cases for me now, everything I do recreationally is more enjoyable without booze compared to when I drank. Fun may look and feel different from now, you just need to adjust to the new normal 10. Sleep doesn’t instantly improve - it takes a while for the brain to adjust to falling asleep without the anaesthetising affects of alcohol. Allow yourself a couple of weeks for this to reset to happen
11. Sleep eventually DRAMATICALLY improves - I’m talking the kind of delectable sleep that makes you feel like Beyoncé and means you’re up at 5.30am ready to conquer the world. This has been one of the most incredible parts of sobriety for me. And the 3am wake up calls where your mind is racing become a very distant memory 12. You’ll be much happier with much less anxiety (I was a highly anxious person who now barely feels a twinge of anxiety). I think I have felt more consistent joy in sobriety than in my entire adult life. My new normal is just feeling pretty damn good!
13. Like me, you may just find that once the alcohol mask is removed, your entire life is turned upside down, you heal life-long wounds, finally feel consistent pure joy, make beautiful new sober connections & start a new business