I spent years dealing with active addiction. My life was a constant downward spiral—something that’s completely normal when it comes to this disease. I made increasingly bad choices and suffered more and more serious consequences. Eventually, I reached a breaking point. I was simply unable to go on anymore. If I didn’t get sober, I would end up dying to my disease. I finally gave in and decided to make a change.
When I first got sober, I realized that something strange had happened. I had lost sight of who I was. Over time, my interests, friends, and family had all been replaced by drugs and alcohol. I didn’t notice it happening at first. Instead of going to see my family, I would spend time in places where I knew I could get the substances I wanted. When my friends didn’t want to party the way I did, I sought out others who did. I gave up on my old hobbies since obtaining and using drugs took up so much of my time and energy. By the time I realized what was happening, there wasn’t much left of me.
This is what I was faced with when I came into the rooms of recovery. I had lost almost everything. I was bankrupt in every sense of the word. Trying to live my life sober seemed like a drag—and it was. It’s easy to relapse when you feel like drugs and alcohol are the only things that make life worth living. And I did relapse—multiple times. I wasn’t one of the ones who got sober on the first try, but I did eventually find long-term sobriety.
I achieved happiness in sobriety by rebuilding my life. This happiness gave me a reason to stay sober and go on living. After that, the rest fell into place naturally. It wasn’t easy, though. It took a lot of time and effort to figure out who I was.
My first action was trying to reconnect with things in my past. As a kid I had loved reading and video games, so that’s what I turned to. My results were mixed. After all, sedentary, solitary activities are not the best idea in early recovery. But it gave me something to do. I also reconnected with people from my past—friends and family that I had left behind during addiction (and those who had stopped talking to me after I caused them too much harm). The amends process was crucial here. I opened myself to these people. I approached them from a place of humility, admitted what I had done wrong, and asked how I could make things right. It worked. I was able to repair a lot of burned bridges and reintroduce valuable relationships in my life, some even stronger than before.
Perhaps my most important action was deciding to try new things and explore my interests. I didn’t limit myself to things I already had experience with. I picked up fitness because I wanted to get back in shape. Not only did I achieve my goal, but I developed a deep passion. I tried to learn a new skill and ended up making a career out of it. This open-mindedness is now paying dividends for me. I just had to put a little effort in to figure out who I was.