in real life

On Wednesday, I will have had a year sober. It makes me anxious. Not for fear of relapse, though that’s there, but something else. I’m afraid I’m not doing it right. I still think I’m supposed to be someone else. I feel alone in recovery. It’s not true that I’m alone, but that’s the feeling.

It’s actually a feeling of shame. I believe I’m supposed to be more open with people. That I’m supposed to evangelize recovery and live in gratitude all the time. There’s the me in my head, the perfect version, who goes to his home group, probably a men’s meeting, every week, with the usual crowd. The one who goes to dinner with fifteen people after the meeting, who shares about fellowship and about AA being fun. That one is best friends with his sponsor. On Wednesday, he will be speaking about what a year has taught him and people will look up to him. He will get sponsees and feel good about it because he has gone through the steps and is ready to carry the message. People bring him cakes. There’s he, who celebrates, and then there’s me, in real life.

The last time I met with my sponsor, I told him I was embarrassed to still be on the fourth and fifth steps. I feel discouraged because life feels so hard for me. I don’t want it to, even if I see myself making it so. He said that one time he did the steps in 3 weeks, one time it took a year. There are different people and different circumstances. He says the misery is in thinking I can do it right, in thinking I have control over it, in thinking it’s up to me.

Wednesday, what will probably happen is that I will go to a meeting and I will feel a little sad. I will post a short post on my blog. I will check in with the moment and express it in a few sentences, without effort, like I did on New Year’s Eve. I will share in the meeting that I feel weird about having one year. I will cry. I will wonder if I will hear from my sister. I will call my sponsor and feel nervous about what he will say. I will read texts and emails from my friends and remember that I’m not alone and that I’m not supposed to be someone else.

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7 Responses to in real life

  1. byebyebeer says:

    Aww, congratulations on getting to this point…that’s awesome. I understand exactly what you mean about this other perfect recovery life you feel like you should be living or you’re not doing it right. I don’t feel like I do any of the things I’m supposed to either. I call my sponsor infrequently…I’ve only just finished step 3 (9 months sober)…I never do the dinners after meetings. But I feel 100x better than I did when I was drinking. I have hope again. Overall I’m a very happy person now, still grateful and with real glimpses of peace I hadn’t had in years. Cut yourself some slack and focus on what you have that you didn’t have a year ago and remember the old “progress not perfection”. There is no such thing as perfect sobriety, and if I felt I had it, that would probably make me a nervous wreck.

  2. Thank you. This is a really great follow up to this post. I hope people read both. Because, I think: I’m not doing this right, and I focus on all the things I think are not right and wonder how I will ever be able to live in gratitude. I wonder how I can have the intention of gratitude and not achieve it. And here you give me a simple and powerful suggestion: look at what I am doing. Appreciate and cultivate all the changes and actions I’m taking and the circumstances given to me that weren’t there a year ago. That makes me feel grateful.

  3. One year…that is a great milestone…I can only hope that for my son…celebrate, eat that cake and remember you are not alone in your recovery!

  4. iceman18 says:

    Don’t drink and “be kind to yourself”! Just remember that if things become too unsettling, difficult or just plain confusing. And when that didn’t work for me, I just went to bed. Getting your legs in this sober journey takes time. It seems that in early sobriety we’re often trying to sprint a marathon having not even trained to run one mile.

    Celebrate your one year as best you can. Even if it’s just to look in the mirror and smile briefly. Or maybe hold the door open for someone that is more than one step behind you. However you acknowledge your accomplishment, it is good enough. Gaining the perspective of time will reveal to you just how significant one year of sobriety is. Tragically, most who try don’t make it!

  5. Debbie Moore says:


  6. Katie says:

    what a beautifully honest post. one of my favorites. i’m not sure how to frame this better, but as a friend, i’m not as concerned with how you stay sober as much as i am that you just do. whatever you’ve been doing this past year, whether it’s “perfect” or messy, keep doing it! of course, also keep striving for gratitude, but know that you’ve accomplished a huge thing, and your friends are proud and thankful for that.

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