The Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to you all. Today I am going to address the effects of sobriety. I actually started this yesterday and the day got away from me…

What I will write here is an accounting of the effects I have gained from my sobriety. There is no guarantee you will experience all of these things, but chances are high that you will, if you maintain your sobriety and continue to make improvements in your life and with yourself.

The first and foremost effect of sobriety was the lack of hangovers. For seven years, I had experienced such horrific hangovers that the next day, I could not function till 3 or 4 pm. I did that every day for seven years… So, to awaken without a hangover was glorious and only improved over time as more and more alcohol was cleared from my system.

Then, the next effect of my sobriety was the disappearance of the sharp, stabbing pain I had been feeling in the area of my liver for 1-2 years. Later blood work revealed I did not have liver damage, so I am fortunate.

With sobriety came the feeling of feelings I had numbed for 26 years, and that was painful. Even though they were extremely difficult at times, the benefits of that were numerous. I was in so much pain that I had to journal every day which got my feelings out more quickly than anything I could have done. Also, by journaling with my non-dominant hand, even deeper feelings surfaced. Try it; it works!

Another benefit from the emotional pain was I was hurting so badly, I accepted help from a psychiatrist and a therapist. They diagnosed me with major clinical depression, PTSD, and panic disorder, and recommended I take medication, which I agreed to do. That has made my world manageable and put me at the same level emotionally that someone without those diagnoses enjoys.

Also, accepting help from the therapist helped me get through the pain more quickly, as she knew where to guide me. I looked for someone well-versed in the issues faced by an alcoholic, as well as with issues faced by children of alcoholic and abusive parents (ACA). We have a specific set of obstacles to overcome, you see, accessible by getting involved in a group that deals with ACA issues.

Over time in sobriety, my relationships improved immensely. I learned not to look to others to make me happy, which took the burden off of them. I learned to look at my own behavior instead of blaming others when things did not go the way I wanted or needed.

This is the biggest, single-most reason for my peace and freedom, in addition to learning how to forgive my parents for my upbringing. It’s huge, in fact, learning to look at our behavior, our actions, the ways in which we treat others and what’s behind that treatment or behavior, goes a long, long way to improve relations with others. Finally, I learned in sobriety to apologize for my bad behavior, to be humble instead of ashamed.

All of these things are the effects, the rewards, of my sobriety. I hope, if you elect the course of living sober, that you, too, experience them. May you discover in sobriety the great peace and freedom that I have discovered.


The Freedom of Forgiveness

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things that comes to us in sobriety, when we are able to do it, is the freedom of forgiveness. Once we are able to forgive others for their wrongs, and then forgive ourselves, we will experience deeper peace and serenity.

Tiers of Forgiveness

It has been my experience that forgiveness happens in tiers or stages, over time. Just as the baby tears which grew by this gate in this picture evolved over time and are beautiful, so can forgiveness grow over time, and is beautiful when it occurs.

How do we get to forgiveness when someone has wronged us, led us to a life of anger and resentment over those wrongs? “Ruined” us emotionally… Made our life a shambles… Is the cause of our emotional misery…

How can we let go of this seething power which has control over us, and why in the world would we even WANT to let go of it? We are, after all, justified in our indignation!

This was me when I reached sobriety. I had spent my life being resentful and miserable because of the years of physical and emotional abuse which I had endured. It had left me deeply scarred. It affected me every single day in one way or another and prevented me from having lasting emotional peace.

Everyone kept saying to me, “Get over it. Move on.” Except I couldn’t; that’s what I’d done with my drinking and drugging… tried to get over it. It didn’t work; I numbed out instead to avoid the feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, and despair. Of course, at the time, I could not name these, I just knew I was miserable – still angry, definitely not experiencing serenity and peace on a lasting basis.

Yet now, I experience serenity and peace every day. It is a place of calm from which my actions, thoughts, and emotions well. I have resolved my anger, my resentment, and have forgiven those who wronged me. That was the piece which was missing for me, which prevented me from finding emotional peace and serenity.

At this point, I need to tell you how I got to that place of forgiveness, but this piece is getting long. Instead, I will save it for tomorrow. I suggest that what we do between now and tomorrow’s post is to do some work around who or what we cannot forgive. Let’s recognize who/what we cannot forgive and clearly define why. We see what emotions surface and try to sit with them for a bit. We feel in our heart how wrong their action was.

Then we turn our attention 180 degrees. We consider how this has consumed our lives and darkly colored our life. We want something different for ourselves. We consider the possibility that we can leave this misery behind and create a new story and we become willing to hear about how. Then, we wait for tomorrow’s post which will describe how I found the freedom of forgiveness.