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2 surprises I discovered in a life without drugs or alcohol

1. Enjoying camaraderie amongst strangers

Social anxiety was an underlying issue that was revealed to me in sobriety. I definitely used alcohol to “socially lubricate” my tongue and personality. I’m not a fan of small talk or meeting new people because my self-esteem thinks I’m constantly being judged. It’s something I work on currently. When I started going to AA meetings and joined an online recovery group, I began to realize that the feelings I felt were also felt and shared amongst complete strangers. It was suddenly easy and okay to talk about the deepest shameful and hurtful feelings and the crazy thoughts that I thought no one could possibly have ever thought before. Hearing other people's struggle with their relationships with alcohol and struggles in life allowed me to be free in being able to speak my truth, my story, my shame and my pain. No matter how “out there” I felt my thoughts seemed, no matter how self-destructive my actions might be, no matter how sad I feel… being in the rooms I have found that there is always a hand to hold or a shoulder to lean on and bring me through to the light side. The light side is the side of freedom; the side where healing begins and recovery is the path that is now my new journey. I now have a second chance at life with the help of new, genuine friends to complement my existing friends that have stuck by my side. And despite generally disliking being touched, I don't mind hugging strangers now because I know they understand and remind me that everything is going to be alright.

1. I’m not as bad as I thought I was.

Drinking excessively hid the discomfort I felt about who I was. I usually felt less than. I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. Turns out, drinking only added to my self-loathing, when in the moment I thought I was the bomb. When I drank, I became a version of myself that went against every moral fiber I had. Although being sober and seeing myself as I really am is truly a difficult task, I’m really not as bad a person as I thought I was. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m… “normal.” :::gasp::: Ok, maybe human is a better term. Being at war with myself, or beating myself up on a daily basis just kept on perpetuating my alcohol use. Truth be told, I was just too afraid to really look at myself in the mirror, physically and emotionally. It was so much easier to blame other people or terrible situations as the reason I felt so broken inside. But once the fog began to lift in my recovery and I really started to look at my character defects, I realized that I’m a good person underneath all those negative thoughts about myself. The hugest moment in my recovery so far was reuniting with my higher power, and realizing that He’s been there for me all along. And He thinks I’m perfectly imperfect just as I am.

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