A lot has changed for me over the past year; some good, some bad. But one constant has remained - my sobriety.
Having notched up over three years alcohol and drug free, I thought I'd take the opportunity to note down some of the benefits and some of the struggles I've had during my sobriety journey.
Not being shackled to the bottle has allowed me to get on with my life without the worry of when my next drink is coming or having to battle through a hangover or being filled with remorse, regret and guilt.
I was never truly free when I was drinking, especially when I was single and out partying, which sounds crazy. Because, although I was free in that I had no woman in my life; I was married to the booze, the easy sex and going out. I was addicted to the madness my drunken escapades created.
When I got married, I became addicted to drinking in secret. Getting smashed without her knowing. Or going out with my mates but not revealing how much I drunk... Despite losing my phone, cards and even my keys on numerous occasions - making it extremely obvious!
Thankfully, the lies and deceit are not needed. And the chaos has calmed.
Other unhealthy habits
Sadly, I cannot claim to have formed perfect sobriety habits. I slipped into a bad routine of using food instead of booze. Chocolate became my go-to when stressed. Secret energy drink sessions crept in as a way to cope with my worries.
Basically, I replaced one addiction with another. I fell into the trap I honestly thought I wouldn't. I failed to tackle my underlying issues and treated them with a different substance.
Now, it wasn't always like that. I did have a handle on my life until I became addicted to my last job and the chaos it brought with it. It was like a drug all over again, however, this time I was being paid to take everything that came with it!
I became obsessed and gained weight. I fell back into my old destructive patterns of behaviour which I am only now working on because I have moved onto a new job.
These days I've banned chocolate from the house, thanks to words of advice and encouragement from the Fit For Manhood group and I haven't had an energy drink in over three weeks so I'm making progress in those areas.
Having a clear mind has allowed me to gain a little more clarity on what life is about, the blessings of being a father and the things I have to lose if I relapse… which highlights to me the importance of staying sober. It has helped me understand the chaos that came with my years of heavy drinking and allowed me to put that chapter of my life behind me.
Being sober also allows me to use critical thinking skills when it comes to issues such as covid and cancel culture, things I just wouldn't have done before.
I believe being sober is a true blessing as obviously I am not actively trying to kill myself anymore and although I still have the occasional lapse into some dark thoughts, I am happy that booze does not dictate my life like it once did.
However, I would be lying if said that my addiction to chaos hasn't remained. Whereas I rarely think about drinking or taking drugs, I am constantly reminded of the ramifications of my previous life by the pursuit of self-destructive behaviours such as getting addicted to my job, self-isolating, aforementioned chocolate obsessions and self-hatred/self-harm.
Also, as I've mentioned, I can be drawn to chaos easily. It is something I am working on stomping out. I tend to deliberately put myself in chaotic situations and mindsets which destroy the positive work I have done. Again, it is something I am working on.
I am flawed but I am making better progress now.
I may not be the perfect father, if we go by the countless social media accounts claiming to be, but I am certainly a more effective father. I know my son is getting a much better father than if I were still drinking and drugging. And he will never know his father as a drunk.
I am definitely more attentive and present. I may not be the calmest all the time, which is something I am working on, but I am ultimately less quick to anger than if were suffering a horrific hangover or knocking back booze because of my lack of an 'off switch'.
Being a sober dad allows me to do things together with my son that are not dictated by booze. I don't need to go somewhere with a bar so he can go play whilst I get drunk. I get to spend time with him and create memories that I will actually remember because I wasn't blackout drunk!
As I've eluded to, I still have self-harming tenancies. I don't mean cutting myself or anything like that, but I do tend to lean towards old destructive habits and behaviours.
Fear is a big one. Self-hatred is another.
I've found it hard since I quit drinking to stay clear of these detrimental thought processes. I find myself consumed with these feelings more often than not. But it is something I need to continue to work on.
I've begun implementing steps in order to avoid these feelings - with positive routines. And the results are showing improvements in me - more on this at a later date.
Overall, the benefits of being sober far outway the negatives. It is something that, to honest, hasn't been too hard. The saying, 'it is easy to stop drinking, it is harder to stay stopped' is something that a lot of people experience, however, thankfully, that hasn't been my story.
But what hasn't been easy for me, because I failed to continue early work in making improvements, is eliminating all the behavioural traits that the chaos of my drinking days created.
All I can say is I am FINALLY working harder than ever to make some positive changes to my life and undo the destruction my past booze filled life caused. I will go into more detail on this in future newsletters.
If you are new to sobriety or looking to give up, then please reach out to me and we can chat.
If you are trying to undo the destruction your unhealthy habits caused, then continue on the path to full recovery and reach out if you want to chat.
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