I am coming up on three years of sobriety from working a 12-step program.
When I first got sober, I knew nothing about how to live a sober lifestyle. I had been in a 12-step program about ten years ago and relapsed, so I apparently never learned how to live a sober way of life. This time has been very different. Not only did circumstance meet willingness, but I knew I was done with the life I was living.
In the beginning, I would listen in meetings to hear what other people had done. About five weeks into sobriety, I did not feel like I was a part of what was going on around me. I talked to my sponsor, and he suggested taking a journal to meetings and not sharing for a month. You have got to be kidding me, I thought. Not share for a month? My sponsor told me to write down everything I heard that I related to and note what was similar to me and my circumstances. Well, I did what he asked and a few weeks in I realized I kept looking for the differences between me and everyone else. I did not want to “be like them.” Well, sure enough, I was just like them; different story but the same issues.
This was a turning point for me in learning how to live a sober lifestyle. I had to own the fact that I’m an alcoholic. This acceptance opened up a door to true surrender to God and my program of recovery.
Living sober is not, for me, about not taking a drink or not using a drug. It is about delving into the things that moved me toward outside things to manage my life.
How to live a sober lifestyle is about facing life for what it is and using the things I have learned in recovery. It is about being open and honest with my sponsor when I am facing the unknown—true accountability. Realistically, just about everything I face is the unknown. Today, I live a life without making decisions and reacting to my old habits and ways of life.
Living a sober lifestyle is also about my daily choices.
My sobriety is based solely on my relationship with God, end of story. I start my day, every day, in prayer. It is not elaborate or spiritual mountaintop stuff. I talk to God just like I am sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a friend. This is how I live a sober lifestyle. I can face the day without taking a drink, but if I am not focused on living a spiritual life, I might as well have a drink because I start to behave like I’m in the midst of addiction, letting my resentment and anger get the better of me. I think they call that a “dry drunk.”
The amazing thing about God, for me, is that there is no measuring stick of success. I have days when things are just not right. That is okay. When I focus on Him and His direction, all is good. That is the only way I know how to live a sober lifestyle.