Sobriety, Change, and The Grief We Don’t Talk About

It’s always fascinated me how much people resist change, considering life itself can been sliced apart and simmered down to the mere sum of a million changes, big and small. In fact, the better we are at changing, and handling the associated stress, the more adaptive we are to living. Thus, the more productive we are with our time and the happier we are overall. Life is constantly in flux. Everyday, we face change. Yet, we hate it. And worse, a lot of us just aren’t good at it.

To change is to grieve.

To say yes is to say no, to accept is also to lose, to enter one doorway is to ignore another. When we go through a change, like a breakup, a move, or a change in habits, belief systems, or general awareness, we can’t escape grieving the way we used to be. It’s hard to grapple with the ambivalent and sometimes overwhelming feelings we experience after going through a change, reminiscing about how things used to be or how the world used to look through a different pair of glasses.

This is especially true for people entering or maintaining sobriety, or people working through therapy and undertaking the journey toward growth and change. The impact of a prolonged substance use is rarely minimal in its intensity or stay of course. Becoming sober means grieving the lifestyle you used to live, or the person you used to be. This includes the people, places, routines, life philosophies, and everything else you had once held dear and true to your identity.

The best way to resolve most problems is to change our thinking.

Changing our thoughts will impact how we feel about a problem, which will then change how we respond. Changing our perspective to view change as an adventure will elicit more of an anxious excitement rather than fearful dread.

When it comes to goal setting and growing toward who we want to be, finding happiness, and establishing a more meaningful existence, do what you don’t want to do. Do what scares you. Fear and anxiety in this way can be indicators that you are moving in the right direction.

Abraham Lincoln explains:

Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most”.

Sobriety asks you to make this choice every day.

Accept the challenge of each new day and don’t just step outside of your comfort zone, because you’ll too easily be able to crawl back in. Skip, leap, and summersault the heck out of there.

© Kelsey Galer 2020

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