7 Things I Learned in 7 Years Sober
Happy birthday to me! As of today, I'm officially seven years sober. It's a huge milestone so naturally, it's been making me pretty reflective. Now that I'm years into my recovery journey, I wanted to share seven things I've learned so far:
#1: I learned that there is SO much more to life than drinking.
I genuinely used to wonder, without alcohol, what else I would do with my friends or in my spare time. Sober Kelsey found there was a whole new world out there! Insert: hiking, traveling, baking/cooking, movies, walks, yoga, and endless other awesome activities. With alcohol out of the way, I was able to find what I love to do in life [read: both making AND eating desserts] and it led me to start Doughp!
#2: I’ve seen the impact of my vulnerability.
Being open about my journey has an immense capacity to help others. For a topic that touches so many of us, it’s incredibly easy to feel wholly alone struggling with alcohol / substance use disorder.
Talking about my experience as loud and often as possible does help people. And that makes it well worth every bit of awkwardness or discomfort I initially felt as I started to open up.
#3: I’m a better friend, daughter, and wife.
When I made the decision to get sober, I said to myself that if I kept drinking, I knew I couldn’t have a healthy relationship with anyone else, much less myself. I’ve learned to truly value the friendships and relationships I have and work to nurture them.
#4: I choose to live authentically.
Thanks to the self-awareness granted by my sobriety, I decided over these past seven years to bring my whole self to the table in every situation. I learned to speak honestly and transparently in every relationship — even when there’s an “easier” path to avoid conflict. No more hiding, pretending, or bending myself to fit a situation. Just being ME.
#5: I realized it’s okay to find your own path.
Everyone who is in or seeking recovery will have their own unique journey, and that’s perfectly okay. I used to feel guilty/shamed that I’ve been able to stay sober without the long-term help of a traditional 12-Step Program. I’ve found surrounding myself with a positive, supportive community has worked for me.
No one’s experience was the same while using their substance-of-choice, so why should we expect that their recovery paths should be identical? I’ve really come to accept one truth: If it’s working for you, keep doing it.
#6: I saw that drinking was just a symptom.
After dropping alcohol, it’s easy to fall into other addictions: work, food, trash TV. Seven years ago when I got sober, it didn’t mean I’d instantly become a Buddhist monk who had found inner peace and had no vices.
It’s been a long, steady journey working on myself and finding new coping mechanisms for stress. And, in these last few years, learning how to wrangle my struggles with workaholism. In many ways, after getting sober, Doughp became my new addiction. I had to detach my personal self-worth from the business and to set boundaries to support my mental health.
#7: I found that meditation and therapy are the bomb.
I’ve been in therapy for the better part of my life but really committed to doing the hard work after getting sober. I committed to dig deep, to ask and find answers to the hard questions about why I used alcohol the way I did. I gave myself the chance to heal. I committed to my meditation and yoga practice after getting sober and, though I’m no robot, have made conscious efforts to keep these in my routine week after week.
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