You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices. –Deepak Chopra
I was talking with my best friend last night as we had dinner at her place, while her 3 kids and 3 other neighbourhood kids tore up the living room. She is sober now. We’ve been best friends for 25 years and have drank and partied together for most of those years. When I started getting serious about getting sober, 3-4 years ago, our friendship was strained. There was a chasm growing between us that, for once in our years together, we didn’t know how to talk about.
This friend and I would find ourselves, in our youth, in the middle of raucous parties, sitting on the couch together delving into the subjects of life, analyzing and examining ourselves and existence. We have always had things to talk about. I have never discussed deeper topics with anyone. Yet, as I began to get sober, we ran out of things to talk about. I couldn’t share what I was experiencing and maybe she didn’t really want to hear it. I feared our friendship was coming to an end at times.
Life and relationships ebb and flow. Her and I have rode this wave together as we’ve been through things. We’ve dated best friends, we’ve travelled to foreign countries together, we’ve moved cities at the same time, we’ve navigated significant tragedies and deaths together, we’ve mingled within the same circles of friends, we’ve done similar work yet in completely different arenas. We’ve grown up and developed together. I wouldn’t be who I am without her influence.
Getting sober without her and the fear of losing our connection was a very painful part of quitting drinking. I had heard that sometimes you lose friends when you get sober but I struggled to think that she could be someone I would lose. I won’t tell her story- it is hers to tell- but she is sober now and it is the biggest gift to me. We’re in this together! My best friend is on the same path as I am (yet again) and it is the best. It’s a different path than mine, of course, as each of our paths are different, but the sober path.
What we talked about last night was so exciting. We talked about how sobriety opens up possibilities. It’s difficult to even fully explain it. But there is something that happens when you get out of that terrible cycle of drinking, eventually, once you make peace with not drinking, you start to see that life is full of options and choices and you can make any damn decision you want. You get to choose how you want to live. And you see you have the strength to make those choices a reality.
I think part of it comes from the internal strength you realize you have after doing something as hard as getting sober. The mental, emotional and spiritual power it takes to overcome the addictive brain is awe-inspiring. When you’re in addiction, your brain is taken over by primal urges and caught in a never-ending loop. Changing that takes time, effort, energy, and major internal resources. We literally change our brains, which we know now is possible- but it’s not easy. It takes incredible determination and dedication. We are the strongest people.
So, it starts to dawn, if I am capable of this- what else? Nothing becomes off limits. I think another part of seeing all possibilities is shaking off this old drinking identity. This I can only speak of personally, but for most of my life I had the identity of a drinker, of a partier, a bit of a rebel, someone who lived life that way. That’s how I conceived of myself, so it was hard to see possibilities that didn’t align with that particular identity. I couldn’t fully step into other parts of me- the parts that were interested in yoga and spirituality, or the athletic side of me, or the professional side of me. Those things all existed yet they didn’t feel authentic somehow. I couldn’t fully embody them. As I have been letting go of the drinking identity, which took up so much space, I am more free to embrace all the other parts of me. I can explore them more deeply, own them, become them. Become anything I want. I have become unstuck.
There is so much freedom in this life choice. I am only 477 days into my new life, so I am only at the beginning and I am very excited about what lies ahead. If you are considering getting sober, please know how worth it it is. Of course, it doesn’t always feel like this (there are still tough days) and especially not in the very beginning, but have faith that there is something better on the other side ❤