Getting Sober & Living Sober: Starting Over in Recovery

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 After much effort in a 12 step program I was quickly approaching twelve months of sobriety, and my life had changed dramatically. I still struggled with insecurity and shyness, but I no longer allowed it to hold me back from doing the things I had wanted to do. When I felt fear rising, I was learning just to say “fuck it,” and keep moving forward despite my apprehension. I was hungry for life, eager to recapture much of what I had lost over the decades, especially the last ten years of my drinking.

I refer to my thirties as “my lost decade.” Large chunks of those years I can’t remember or prefer to forget. While most people my age were starting to raise children and build careers, I had spent my thirties in a daze, desperately trying to drown sorrow and resentment in a river of booze. The subsequent lifestyle that accompanied the lost decade had left me empty, sick, and broken. 

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Now it was time to recapture what I had forsaken, or at the very least, give it my best effort.

Effort is an essential part of any meaningful endeavour. Ultimately, the results of any action are out of my hands. Leave the results, as they say, to God. The only thing that I can control in my life is the effort I put into every situation. The effort, not the conclusion, is the fun part of the game. The effort is where we find joy.

I kept my efforts simple at first. Clean my apartment every day. Make my bed. Shower and shave each morning. Eat healthier food. Take a twenty-minute walk. Go to a meeting. Be kind to people, even when I don’t want to be kind. It’s incredible how much self-respect and satisfaction can be derived from the simplest actions.

I began to branch out into areas of life that I wanted to explore or improve, including my hunger to learn. I was starving for spiritual awareness and started reading everything I could get my hands on about recovery, addiction, religion, and self-improvement. I would browse libraries and bookstores for hours. Books became a refuge that helped me focus my mind and expand my knowledge.

There were so many things I wanted to know and experience. I was like a baby learning to crawl, looking at the world with intense curiosity, eager to explore one thing after another, unperturbed by self-doubt or apprehension. The way I figured it, I had survived more than my share of danger and hazards. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from growing, regardless of any fear or doubt I encountered along the way.

I had given up too much of my youth. Now was the time to get some of it back and reclaim the years lost to addiction.

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Rusty Jalopy

When I first got sober, I was in terrible physical shape. I was pale, pudgy, and soft as a marshmallow. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without panting. I suffered from horrible stomach pains morning, noon, and night. I experienced frequent migraines. I couldn’t sleep. My diet consisted mostly of cheeseburgers, ramen noodles, soda, and milkshakes. I considered cigarettes to be a major food group.

The idea of exercising and eating healthy was the farthest thing from my mind when I was drinking. You could just as easily have asked me to saw off my thumb with a butter knife. Exercise at that stage consisted of walking to the liquor store for the third bottle of wine or running up the stairs to my drug dealer’s apartment. That was as far as my workout routine ever went.

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But how would I begin this miraculous transformation? There was still a lot of damage to repair. I felt like a decrepit, old car that had been sitting in the backyard for decades, abandoned and overrun by rust and decay. Rebuilding and repairing the Jalopy called my body was going to be a daunting task.

Like all epic journeys, I had to start with a single step, literally. I began to walk every day, sometimes several times per day. I would walk to the grocery store. I would walk to AA meetings. I would walk to the book store. I would walk to the coffee shop. I would walk without a destination. Walking became my first form of exercise in those early days. It was also a great form of meditation, though I wasn’t aware of that right away. 

I became a walking fanatic, and I loved it. Best of all, I started to slowly lose weight because of all the miles I was covering.

After a few weeks, I did the unthinkable. I began to JOG. I’ll be honest; jogging is probably my least favorite thing in the world. In fact, I hate it. But I knew it would speed up my effort to get in shape, so when I went for my daily walks, I would incorporate a short jog into the routine. Walk five blocks, jog one block. Walk five blocks, jog one block. Eventually, I was able to jog five blocks and walk one block, which had a significant impact on my physical condition.

Soon, I transferred my walking/jogging routine to short hikes around the hills near my home. Hiking became a passion, something I wanted to do as often as possible. I loved being outdoors in nature, something I cherish to this day, and the physical exertion, especially on my lungs and heart, helped to accelerate my weight loss even faster.

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I was well aware that getting fit was going to be a slow process. But I stuck with it, eventually joining a local gym. I began to work out with weights and, more importantly, started to practice yoga. Yoga was one of the best things I did for myself in early recovery. It had a significant impact on my overall health and state of mind. If there is any single form of exercise I would recommend to someone who is getting sober, yoga would be at the top of the list.

I was finally beginning to take care of myself. I was putting a concerted effort into repairing the physical damage inflicted on my body from years of neglect and substance abuse. I was feeling better, sleeping well most nights, and my confidence started to rise.

The decrepit, old Jalopy was slowly coming back to life.


To find books on addiction, recovery and sobriety visit: Sobermofos.

For addiction therapy and consultation options please visit: Online Therapy.

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