When I reflect on how I used to talk about sobriety and how I think of it now, I return to a thought: Perspective is key.
What does that mean when it comes to sobriety?
Perspective is the catalyst between passing thought and relapse.
The perspective of an addict
For whatever reason, every addict will feel as if somehow they’re losing a huge part of themselves when giving up their drug of choice.
Normally, yes, if you are letting go of something that has defined you, there is a little kind of death in that.
However, that feeling is your addict self trying to stop you from changing. Because it keeps you from looking at the whole of your life or the possibilities it contains.
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A very gray perspective
For me ⏤ an alcoholic for about a solid decade before I quit ⏤ when I was still drinking I imagined my life losing all meaning and joy if I never had a drink again.
My life simply would not be worth living if I couldn’t drink. That was my perspective at that time.
My focus lingered so heavily on this very, very small thing in the world, that with it gone the world didn’t exist.
You see, I had never explored the world. I just told myself it wasn’t worth it because it would have distracted me from drinking.
But what if? ….
But what if that’s just me sabotaging myself from breaking free before I even try to rattle on my chains?
If you’re an addict, you’re comfortable with your addiction ⏤ even though you may hate it. It’s that thing that never treats you right, but that you can’t live without.
For some reason, it comes to a “well, it’s just this or worse, I guess,” kind of mentality.
A different perspective
But, again, why is it that place or worse?
The truth ⏤ as I’ve come to know it after six years of sobriety ⏤ is that you can live a much fuller life sober than you ever will while still using.
Well, let me ask you something: what event in your life do you wish you could remember that your drug use has robbed from your memory?
How many last talks with friends? With loved ones?
How many things can you not remember of the things you wished you’d never forget?
Now, put that way, does that seem like a fuller life?
Or would having those memories, and that possible closure, make your life more complete?
The cleverness of addiction
That’s the cleverness of addiction: It robs you of the things in the moment that you’ll only value and miss later on.
It robs you of the connection with friends you haven’t talked to in a while, that relative you haven’t called back in months, that partner you had planned on working things out with.
Because you’re only focusing dead ahead on that one thing, your drug. You don’t care to look anywhere else or notice when your life is crumbling behind you.
Change your perspective, look around
But you CAN turn around and see it.
You can stop it, and you can start to rebuild your world around you.
You just have to actually pay attention to it.
And that’s both the burden and benefit of sobriety.
Depending on how long you’ve been using, there is potentially a lot of damage to be addressed and amends to be made. And there is no timeline on how long that whole process will take.
However, I can tell you that, when it’s complete, you’ll also feel more complete.
Perspective brings hope
When you start paying attention to the entirety of your world, you start to see the opportunities in it. You start seeing different, even better lives you could live.
And I can’t really explain how satisfying that feeling is to someone who has only seen one way to live for so long.
Most addicts think that giving up their addiction is giving up something big for a small life. But it’s the complete opposite: You’re giving up something so small in order to have a bigger, more rewarding life.
And the further you get away from your drug of choice and the more you start exploring the world outside of it, you’ll start seeing that more clearly. You’ll start moving toward it effortlessly.
While at times that journey can be one of the hardest you’ll ever embark on, it’s worth it.
It’s worth it.