What happens now?
I had no idea what would happen when I walked out the door at Mountainside after 30 days. I already missed the people I had met in Resi and the safety and comfort of the alcohol-free world at “The Mountain.” I was so unsure of myself and my life, and my sobriety. So many questions ran through my head: Will I stay sober? Will I stay married? Am I going to relapse right away? And if not right away, when WILL I relapse?
On the ride home, my partner and I were polite with each other. She had moved out of our bedroom at home while I was gone with the condition that “we’ll see how it goes.” She wasn’t sure of my sobriety either. That was fair after so many years of trying to quit on my own and relapsing over and over again. I was lucky she had picked me up at all.
Four hours later, we arrived home.
So what happens now? I’m sure they told me what the first few days would be like, but right now, I’m overwhelmed. Should I go to a meeting? Go to bed? Meditate? Take a bath? Take the dog for a walk? Journal? Call a friend? Make something healthy for dinner? Damn, I know we talked about this…where do I go from here?
I don’t actually remember what I did that first night home. But I remember what I didn’t do. I didn’t drink. And then I didn’t drink the next day. Or the next day or the next day. In fact, I haven’t had a drink since the day I walked into Mountainside on September 20, 2018. And now I’ve been sober for three years!
When I left Mountainside, I was not even sure that I wanted to quit drinking. I was pretty sure I did not. What would I do without alcohol? How would I relax? Who would want to spend time with me? How would I get through every.single.day.for.the.rest.of.my.life? But it turns out I didn’t need to get through every single day for the rest of my life. I only had to get through today. So that’s what I focused on. I went to IOP for six weeks, returned to work, and started seeing a therapist regularly. I woke up and focused on my new routine – breakfast, dog walk, shower, work, IOP, bed. I went to meetings. I read recovery books and listened to podcasts, and got on different sobriety FB groups. I talked to my friends about my recovery and how I was doing. I learned to ask for help on the hard days – there were plenty. I practiced radical honesty in everything that I did. I fell back in love with my partner and her with me. I talked in IOP and therapy about the things that have been hard in my life and learned to work through them. And I thought about my thinking. I learned to recognize when my behavior and thoughts were getting off track and slipping back toward my addictive ways. I MADE MY RECOVERY THE CENTER OF MY LIFE even if other people could not see it. And it worked.
The first year was hard. I was raw and fragile and unsure of everything. Relapse was a distinct possibility every single day. But so was sobriety.
The second-year was blissful. I bathed in the pink cloud of my recovery. The third-year has just been….normal. Good normal. New normal. I am learning that my sobriety changes with time and experience.
I have recently become an Ambassador for Mountainside, and it has brought a new and meaningful part of sobriety into my life. It is true what they say about the 12th step – carrying the message of AA to other alcoholics and practicing the principles in all of my affairs has made all the difference. The pink cloud has lifted, but my gratitude for my sobriety and everything that comes with it is absolutely solid. I would not give it up for anything.