My name is Dayna and I am 6 months sober next week. It’s a pretty big deal because prior to choosing to live a sober life, I had been drinking upwards of a bottle of wine a night, every single night, for the previous decade. I thought that drinking wine was good self- care. I was wrong. Read on to learn 3 steps into choosing and creating a life you love while newly sober!
When I first started drinking, it was because I was a full-time college student, working toward a double major while simultaneously working 3 different jobs to support myself. I was working really, really hard and thought I “deserved” to drink as much as I wanted. Back then, “self-care” looked like a cheap bottle of Chardonnay, a block of decently good cheese and a Food Network marathon, alone on the couch on a Friday night at 11pm, or Tuesday afternoon at 5:45pm, or Sunday at 1:30pm…I had no social life. I was exhausted, stressed, anxious, lonely, depressed, but I was just trying to get through it all and I thought that was the only way.
And then I graduated, moved across the country, got married, landed my dream job, bought a house, incurred massive debt, got laid off from my dream job, got pregnant, had a baby, then repeated that, all within 2 years- and all of those big moments were punctuated with wine- lots and lots of wine. It was still the best way for me to “get through” things; good things, hard things…all things, it didn’t matter.
I knew for a long time before I decided to quit drinking that it was a problem. And when the crippling weight of shame finally got too heavy and my kids got old enough to see my shortcomings, I decided life must be easier without alcohol. It was just time. So I finally quit.
Upon quitting my bottle-of-wine-a-night habit, I realized quite quickly that I didn’t really have a life outside of booze. Of course I didn’t. All I ever did was sit on the couch in my sweat pants with some crappy white wine, watching Netflix and eating Cheez-its right out of the box. But now I realized that I had a lot more time, a lot more money, a lot more energy and I had no idea what to do with any of it. It’s a good problem to have, unless you have anxiety and you’re trying to kick a bad drinking habit. I realized that if was going to be successful at sobriety, I would have to redesign things, and I’d have to do that fast, or risk slipping back into my old, easy habits. No pressure.
So I got to work. I threw myself into about a million different things; triathlon training, jazz singing, novel writing, homeschooling, weightlifting, horse-riding, painting, blogging…
Little did I know how fragile the first few months of sobriety were. I cried a lot. I fell apart a lot. I had cravings a lot and wondered whether I was doing the right thing? Mind you, I was enjoying all of my new hobbies, but I was easily overwhelmed and discouraged on a daily basis, because, of course, rebuilding your life takes time, and patience. Many addicts share a similar personality trait- trying to force our way through life, even if it isn’t a good fit. That’s why so many of us drink, or use drugs- to get through things that aren’t working. Because slowing down, paying attention, acknowledging failure or our bad decisions isn’t enjoyable and after years of self-medicating, we have forgotten, or perhaps never even learned how to work through the ups and downs of life in a productive way.
I wanted to have it figured out right away, because, quite frankly, it was painful not to. The “in-between” of active addiction and my new “glowing sober” life felt like some strange purgatory and I wanted to fast-forward to the finish line where things were all figured out and I made all the right choices about how to redesign things.
It’s a lot of pressure at first. For many of us, it feels like we have been given our lives back, and really, we have. So what are we supposed to do with them now?
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Keep going. Be patient with yourself and be patient with the process. Find your community and speak your truth. And stay strong, sober-warrior. It’s worth it!
Dayna Copeland is a writer and a musician living in Denver, Colorado. With a passion for service, recovery and spiritual healing, Dayna works with women who seek to discover their life’s greater purpose, and helps them to find a freedom from attachment, suffering and dysfunctional living. Through her writing and her work within her organization, Glowing Sober (www.glowingsober.com) she endeavors to offer healing, support and encouragement to women in recovery.