When you first get sober, a lot of life feels brand new. It may be the first time you’ve tried living life on life’s terms!
Though new responsibilities appear in your life as you try to clean up the past, there’s so much more good heading your way. You have more money in your pocket. You don’t dread the hangover in the morning or recalling embarrassing moments from your blackout.
Below we’ll look at the good things you can expect to manifest in early sobriety and ideas for bringing the good parts into your life.
One of the most significant new benefits is the ability to save money. You aren’t recklessly blowing it at bars or on countless 12 packs. Thus you have more to put away from your job.
The best thing to do is build up savings. Savings provide mental comfort that helps us sleep at night. We don’t want the stress of not knowing what the future brings to our finances, so we prepare for the unexpected. An emergency saving account separated from our checking account also helps us mentally keep our hands off it.
3-6 months of living expenses in savings is a recommended goal that many financial advisors recommend so that we can weather rough patches, and I think this applies to recovering alcoholics who need stability when it sorely lacked before.
More Free Time
Another benefit is the large amount of new free time we receive. We spent countless hours getting funds for the following drinking, planning the next drink, drinking, and recovering from drinking. It was a vicious cycle that left little room for other activities.
As recommended before, it now may be a good time to return to old hobbies that used to please us. Even if it starts as only a few minutes a day, getting into the “flow” brings about mental ease.
We also have new goals in recovery to work for, including step work, service in the meetings, and spending time with new sober friends.
When we find ourselves not using the free time well, we can become isolated and stuck in our heads over the million fears that our minds conjure up. Free time that we squander on our fears leads to unhappiness and misery.
A New Friendship Network
We find that we may no longer like spending time with the people we did while we were drinking. Since often they too are alcoholics, we find that they can drag us back into old habits and pessimistic ways of thinking and living.
Thankfully, the 12 step rooms provide new outlets for people who are on the same journey. Although it may take the initiative to reach out, catch up, and plan activities, we discover that the folks in the recovery community are much more receptive than those out in the regular world.
They too often are just looking for connection and understand the importance of sober relationships, so we don’t need to shy away from making the initial contact. Getting phone numbers of the many people we meet helps us when we find ourselves isolated.
Freedom to Try New Things
We no longer are tethered to alcohol. We avoided activities where drinks wouldn’t be served, especially outdoor activities like hiking and swimming. Now’s the time to engage in activities we used to shy away from.
For me, it was the social activities I didn’t attend unless I had a stomach full of liquid confidence. After forcing myself to attend them sober, eventually I got very comfortable being around others in a party or entertainment setting, as only myself. Sure, it was uncomfortable for a while until I got used to the environment. However, now it is one of the most enjoyable things I look forward to.
The meetings themselves also broke me into being around others in a relaxed manner. When I’m around like-minded people, I become comfortable speaking my mind, longer. I had no other options at meetings anyway. You are accepted and welcomed no matter how reserved you are when you first arrive.
Perhaps you’ve put off starting a business, or a blog, or an eCommerce store that you always wanted to try. Stopping drinking gives you more perseverance and mental clarity to create and build new things.
Along with extra capital and free time, you can start new projects. Sure, they may not be as successful as you hoped, but you can be proud you tried, rather than wasting the opportunity to drink and never get anything off the ground.
I’ve always found pleasure in new creative tasks. I am grateful that the muse often strikes me with new ideas, even though none of my projects have been wildly successful.
My pet projects make me feel I am packing more into life and improving the lives of others. Plus, it brings me satisfaction that I am putting my ideas out into the world, as though they were my children, for others to consume and enjoy.
New Long Term Goals
Now that we’re no longer living for the rush of each moment in the form of booze, we can start thinking about our long-term plans.
It could be saving up for a house or car, finishing school, getting married, or building a career. I know first hand that I rarely thought about 3 or 5 years down the road. I always thought about getting the next drink, and my life took a more meandering rather than a clear-cut course as a result.
Planning for the future doesn’t mean it has to be full of anxiety. To me, it is a gift to have farther out goals and the hope of achieving them since I am sober. The old cliche “one day at a time” still can apply to your life, but I am a fan of building more and working towards more.
Take your time and enjoy each moment.
I noticed that I rushed everything in my life. Eating, working, and even leisure were just something for me to get through so that I could get back to drinking.
Now you don’t have the monkey on your back that is alcohol. You might see in your own life how you still rush through activities sober. If you pay attention, it may be a lot of things.
That’s why it’s essential to slow down. No moment is greater than the current one. You no longer need to attend to the obsession to drink in the back of your mind. You can finally be present for your life.
Thoroughly enjoy the meal you’re eating. Listen carefully to the music as you sit in traffic. Take in all of life clear and sober. You will begin to find joy in the little things, and the ability to do so makes sobriety that much more comfortable.
Early sobriety doesn’t have to be a dreaded period of pure willpower not to drink. We can start rebuilding a better life slowly. We can build ourselves up with savings, new hobbies, new friends, and new goals.
For the first time, we start planning what we want out of life, rather than being tossed around by the needs of our alcoholism. It is a time of great hope and enthusiasm for getting a second chance to make an enjoyable life.