I’ve been wondering this lately, in a tangential sort of way. Like, I think about other stuff, and my thoughts end up at this question. Usually I’m thinking about how I feel bored with sobriety, in a general sense. Like, it’s just not pink clouds anymore, ever. *I’m* no longer a pink cloud–and I wonder, where have I gone? Sometimes, I do long for the “old” “just getting sober” me. The truth is, not only is being sober no longer enough, but I expect a lot LOT more from myself now. So, it all just feels like work–normal life, I guess.
I miss walking the hills, passing the tropical flowering brush, feeling literally buzzed by the fact that I am sober, that I get this–this life. These days, I still do very much appreciate all of it–maybe more so now, more fully–but I don’t feel that same rush of getting sober and all the feeling of newness and accomplishment and being newly, well, in love with myself again. I just feel…bored. Been here, done this. Time to move on.
And, move on, I have. I did. I went to the west coast last year, for oh, 8 months, and worked a “big girl” job again. (which, as you can probably guess, was pretty easy, and pretty low-key compared to freelancing) And, I survived everything I was afraid of, namely, will I not only be able to stay sober in a new place, in a new job, in a new lifestyle, but will I thrive?
I have to say, I guess I did both survive and thrive, even though I felt depressed most of the time. When I got home, I felt changed, much stronger, much more confident, able to interact with the “real world”–things that never would have been nurtured if I had stayed here, in my old, pink-cloud life. SO, that was good. And, it’s had me wondering ever since, how many people don’t leave where they got sober because they’re afraid they’ll lost their sobriety in exchange for possible big personal growth?
Are you afraid that leaving the sober life, patterns, and habits that you’ve developed where you are will put you at risk for relapse? Do you want to leave, but fear you can’t because you’re not sure how or if you can establish similar new, healthy coping skills somewhere else? I think I know quite a few people down here who stay for YEARS…and I wonder if it’s for that very reason.
I wasn’t particularly worried about relapsing when I went away, but I did fear that I would be more stressed, and more triggered, and have more cravings. I did at first, but I was NEVER, EVER at risk of a relapse. (And, these days, I don’t think I would even choose to spend money, drink liquid sugar, and feel like total ass the next day, if given the no-strings choice.) In fact, after the initial freakout (yup, there was one night–week, let’s say), things went back to where they were before I got sober, which is to say, I’m good at work. I always have been really (pathologically) good at doing well at work while living a (secretly) disastrous personal life.
Still, I had quite a bit of apprehension. I’m glad I got over it because I came back feeling very much motivated, strong, and confident. Not that I feel that way every day these days (I’ve been home for 8 months), but more or less, I really do. And, I wonder, how would it be if I lived out my fear, and stayed “stuck” here–I’m trying not to judge the folks here who have gotten sober and decided to just go with what works, mind you. For me–and we all know who I am–I have to experiment, and cannot live in fear, as fear is my biggest trigger to use, whether emotionally or actually physically. And, that leads me to ask another, even more general question about long-term sobriety: how much fear is acceptable to live with and in, in exchange for security in your sobriety? Do you–should you–work through your fears, all of them, gradually as the years wear on?