By Rose Lockinger
The choice to get sober can be the most frightening decision an alcoholic makes. There are so many unknowns and the fear of withdrawal is enough to keep many alcoholics in bondage long after they need to be. I know it was like that for me. I was petrified to get sober. I didn’t really know what a sober life would look like. All that I knew, when I finally took the leap of faith, is that my life was no longer working and that if I continued on the way that I was going I would dead within the next year.
What finally got me sober wasn’t anything outside of me. I woke up one day and realized how completely and totally empty I was on the inside. I was slowly but surely losing anyone and anything that I loved. It was a devastating feeling, one that our literature describes perfectly with the phrase “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization”. I remember when I read that line for the first time, I knew that I had felt it the day I decided to get sober.
It was understanding that after years of throwing everything that I had at life, I had failed. I had wasted my life on self-destructive practices. I had no friends, my family didn’t really want anything to do with me, and I knew that I could no longer pretend that I was a competent mother. Worst of all I despised every aspect of myself. Something that I have seen is that usually it is not the physical bottoms that get people sober, it’s the emotional and spiritual ones. They leave you so broken and full of pain that you are desperate, desperate to do anything to not have to live life in that state. Once I was able to recognize my inner emptiness, I was finally able to accept some help.
Early sobriety wasn’t particularly easy for me, as I don’t believe it is for anyone. I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin and I felt the effects of withdrawals for a long time into sobriety. But I knew that I had to push through. The results were worth every painful moment. I got a sponsor right away and started on the steps.
I chose someone who had long-term sobriety. My sponsor just received her 11 year medallion in December of last year. She set a good example for me and was a mentor in how to live a sober life. The other important aspect is having a sponsorship family and getting to know your sponsee sisters. Like her, they had good solid programs and were always there to help when I needed encouragement, support or just someone to listen. During this process I was also reminded of the dark side of this disease with one friend dying from this disease and the other relapsing and going to an alcohol detox program in Stuart, Florida.
I remember when I was getting sober that I somehow knew that in order for me to really do it this time I had to get honest. Not just honest I also had to start letting out all the secrets that I had carried for so long that had built up over a lifetime. Early on I had heard “you are only as sick as your secrets” and that resonated with me. This is something I remind myself of a lot especially early on. Because keeping secrets was a way of keeping the world at bay. Of presenting a mask so no one would know who I really was. Because if they knew who I really was they would dislike me. I had convinced myself that no one would like me if they REALLY knew who I was. Thanks to the steps I found out this was not the case after I shared my fifth step with my sponsor I found that I could be open and people would not judge me.
Finally getting honest was one of the major factors that allowed me to get and stay sober. Without it I think I would have lacked the ability to work the Steps in a meaningful way and I would have continued to experience the guilt and anxiety that comes from leading a dishonest life.
Besides getting honest I also took suggestions this time. I went to a meeting every day and I listened rather than shared. I read the pages of the Big Book assigned to me by my sponsor and most importantly I worked my steps. Another key factor was my ability to be open to listening to others perspectives I had realized that on my own I had failed that up to this point my thinking was not clear and I needed the input of others
I also desperately needed a relationship with a higher power, I needed to believe that someone outside of myself had a plan; a destiny for my life; and a reason I had survived all the pain. This is the best gift of the 12-step program, that it offers a spiritual awakening slow or fast. Which is a key aspect of this program. Without the program and the fellowship I would have been hard pressed for me to stay sober.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world.
Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.