Stepping into the real world after rehab feels a bit like riding a bike and taking the training wheels off for the first time. We feel shaky and uncertain. We feel afraid that we might fall and unsure of our own ability to live without the crutch of a drink or a drug. Everything and everyone that has filled our lives during our days of active addiction may have to change. This may feel terrifying and overwhelming. But it’s OK. It’s a brand-new beginning. We just need to reinvent ourselves.
Reinventing Our Relationships
Probably the biggest area of our lives that needs to be reinvented involves our relationships. Whether the people who are closest to us are our husbands, wives, children, parents or friends, our relationships have most likely been damaged by our addiction. Our loved ones may have a hard time trusting in our commitment to recovery, or they may feel jealous of the time we spend away from home at meetings. A bigger problem is when the people closest to us still drink and drug themselves and aren’t happy about our decision to get sober. They may try to encourage us to have just one drink or to join them at our old hangouts. They may tell us to loosen up and that we aren’t much fun anymore. Reinventing our relationships may mean letting go of some of the people who have been central to our lives. We have to start by building a support network of other people who are committed to living sober lives.
Reinventing Ourselves and Our Priorities
As we become reoriented to the real world, we know that we have to reinvent ourselves in every area of our lives. We can no longer choose oblivion and escapism. Instead of reaching for a drink or a drug, we have to make healthy choices and fill our time with positive people and healthy activities. There are almost unlimited possibilities. We could focus on becoming physically active by walking, running, biking or swimming. We could enroll in school and set new goals for our education or career. We could challenge ourselves to write a book or learn to paint. Our priorities have to change. Living a life that revolves around mind-altering chemicals is no longer an option. Now recovery has to be the top priority in our lives. We have to make time for meetings or support groups even when it seems like we don’t have time to go. We have to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. We have to admit and accept that we are not cured and that we have a lot to learn.
Letting Go of the Past
At times we may yearn for the past and want to look over our shoulders. We wish we could drink like other people. We may think we aren’t much fun anymore now that we can’t be the life of the party. It might seem that a sober life will be a boring life. We have to be careful not to glorify the past. We chose to get sober for a reason, and the reason was most likely because alcohol and drugs wreaked havoc in our lives and brought us to our knees. Our addiction caused us a whole lot of trouble. We had multiple losses in many areas of our lives, and if we pick up again, there is much more to lose.
Beginning a Beautiful New Journey
Today is a brand-new day and the beginning of a beautiful new journey. We are like babies taking our first cautious steps. We may stumble a bit, but ultimately we will learn to walk if we keep trying. We have many exciting possibilities ahead. Each sober day is a new opportunity to try again. In finding our way to recovery, we have been given a wonderful gift. We are able to witness miracles in the lives of others, and those around us are amazed at the way we are transforming into a completely new person. Whenever an alcoholic or addict gets through one day without a drink or a drug, a miracle has occurred in his or her life. As we reinvent ourselves, miracles are in progress.