Overcoming Addiction: An Unexpected Confidence Boost
There was a period of time a few months ago when I was going through a particularly hard time in my sobriety. I had just moved back to Virginia after being in South Florida for almost 2 years and this transition was more difficult then I initially thought it would be. There was a flood of new emotion and being away from the support network that I had built up left me feeling adrift. One night I was on the phone with a friend of mine discussing this with her and without missing a beat she said to me, “Listen Rose. You already overcame your addiction. After that, everything else is a walk in the park. There is nothing that life can throw at you that you can’t handle.”
The words she spoke that night for whatever reason brought me a great sense of relief. They weren’t anything that I didn’t already know, but they were a reassurance that I wasn’t made of glass. That I wouldn’t break, and that getting sober had given me an ability to surmount obstacles that I never had before in my life.
I am a runner by nature. Not in the traditional let’s pick up and go sense of the word, but I ran from myself, and I ran from doing the difficult things in life that we sometimes have to do. Whenever anything difficult would come my way I would crumple and hide away in my bottle of booze. Talking to my friend that night I realized that I no longer was a runner and that the fact that I was even back in Virginia, ready to be a mother again, was a testament to how far I had come.
This is one of the unexpected side effects, if you can even call it that, of getting sober. A new found confidence that allows you to face anything, no matter how scared you are, and deal with it appropriately. This doesn’t just mean handling potentially negative situations, but refers to anything. Whether that is trying new activities, chasing your dreams, starting a new relationship, or starting a new job. Sobriety offers the confidence necessary to take the leap.
Before I sought services and got sober I was paralyzed with fear of screwing up and this fear completely ruled my life. It seemed to stem from the fact that I believed that I was the end all be all of the universe and that on my shoulders the world rested. I felt that if I should falter calamity would ensue, and yet my entire life was a calamity. It was an interesting belief and one that wasn’t really based in reality. Once I got sober and finally surrendered I was able to take my rightful place in the universe and in doing so the pressure of having to be perfect was removed.
Surrendering also allowed me to have a newfound belief in God. One that gives me a strength that I never had before and it is from this strength that I am able to walk out into the unknown and try new things, understanding that the outcome very often lay outside of my control. Not having to be in control of the outcome allows me to have faith that things will work out the way they are supposed to, and show up and do my best regardless of whether I’m scared or not.
In a very real sense alcoholics and addicts who have gotten sober are gifted with something that not many other people on this planet have. That gift is that we have essentially lived two different lives. During our first life we ran ourselves into ground, narrowly escaping complete annihilation, but in the process we destroyed our first life and were granted a second. The act of losing everything, and I don’t mean materially, has allowed many of us, myself included, to see that we can lose everything in life and still be okay. Or as Tyler Durden in Fight Club said, “It is only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
The freedom that I was granted by having lost everything has given me the confidence to do anything that I want in life with the knowledge that fear and all of the emotions that come with it are transitory. Regardless of how I feel going into a new situation I have a confidence that I will be successful because I have already overcome the most difficult things that life could throw at me.
There is another reason why getting sober gives you the confidence to go out on a limb and that is because of the friends that you will make once you get sober. The importance of having supportive friends who will walk through anything with you cannot be overstated. Before I got sober I had the support of my family and I had some close friends, but nothing like the people that I have met after getting sober. I never talked to people about what was really going on and so I bottled everything up inside, allowing it to fester and grow. Having friends who I can truly expose myself to and know that they will not leave or judge me, has given me the confidence to put myself out there more and more.
Having supportive friends also offers a sort of safety net when attempting new things because you know that even if things do not work out the way that you had planned, you can always go back to friends for comfort. They will be there to help build you up again as you attempt to go out and try new things.
After sitting down and writing all this out I realized just how much of a confidence boost sobriety has given me. I would never have written these things in the past, let alone put them on the Internet for all to read. Through the 12 Steps, a God of my understanding, and the support of friends, I am able to confidently be the women that I was intended to be. I am able to try new things with the confidence that things will work out, and mostly importantly I no longer have to apologize for who I am.