What a crazy time we are living in. One thing’s for sure, this is certainly not what I had envisioned for 2020. If anything, our current situation with COVID-19 has reminded me more than ever the importance of One Day at a Time – and not just when it comes to sobriety. Things in life can change at any flickering moment, and this whole ordeal has given me another wakeup call that shows me that all we ever really have is today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is never guaranteed.
But that’s another rabbit hole that I won’t go down today.
Let’s talk about sobriety during hardship. Let’s talk about sobriety during stressful and painful times. Let’s talk about staying sober no matter what.
While I have been fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work from home during all of this, I have starting to feel the effects of not leaving my house much over the last three weeks. The most interesting side effect of it all has been the resurfacing of memories and feelings that I had during my early days of sobriety.
When I first made the decision to get sober in 2010, my life was in utter chaos. I was facing a failing marriage, all the while still living with a spouse who was in active addiction. Sometimes my husband at the time would go missing for days while on drinking or drugging sprees. I would watch helplessly as what was left in our bank accounts would plummet from countless ATM cash withdrawals.
Upon arriving home after being discharged from treatment, I had no car, no job, and not a cent to my name. My credit was shot and I was facing some serious consequences as a result of my former days of chemical dependency. Not only did I feel like I was worth nothing as a person, but I couldn’t see any way out of this. How in the world was I ever going to rebuild my life?
With no car and no job, I didn’t have much reason to leave my tiny second-floor apartment. I was blessed in those early days to have someone who would pick me up for an AA meeting every day at noon. I’m not sure where I would be today if it hadn’t been for those meetings. While it’s unconventional and different, I beg of you who are in quarantine to take advantage of the countless Zoom meetings the recovery world is offering right now. The support and solution needed during these stressful times are just a meeting ID and a click away. What a gift!
The days and nights felt long in that tiny apartment. I didn’t live in a safe part of town, so going outside by myself never felt like a good option. I should also mention that during my 45 days in treatment, my then-husband was in full-blown active addiction. The apartment that I left literally did not get cleaned the entire time I was gone. Trash was everywhere. Cigarette burns were in the carpet from him nodding out while high. He had never taken the garbage out the entire time I was gone, so the apartment smelled like rotting food. There were literally trash bags of garbage piled into our hallway closet with rotting meat and maggots living inside. There couldn’t have been a better illustration for how incredibly screwed up my life was than the sight of that apartment.
I cried a lot in those first few weeks. In between hitting an AA meeting, I was able to fill up some of my time cleaning that place up and desperately trying to find a job. But eventually, I had the living spaces cleaned again and was often left with nothing but me and my thoughts – a very dangerous place in early sobriety.
During what I now think of as my early sobriety quarantine, I had to make a decision every single day about what it was that I wanted. Did I want to stay in a life filled with bad decisions, unhealthy relationships, and rotting garbage? Did I want to remain in a life where my first thought every morning was “how can I get loaded?” Did I want to start living or did I simply want to keep surviving?
It was anything but easy. But as the months went on and the pieces of my shattered life were picked up, things got better. We often hear the phrase “sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly” in the rooms of recovery when we are told about The Promises of sobriety. For me, it was slow. Very slow. But, oh, how I wanted it. I wanted peace and I wanted a real life.
Where am I going with this?
I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media, and even articles in the news. about people in recovery having a hard time staying sober right now. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to use this current chaos with the coronavirus to be a part of your story as to why you picked back up. You don’t have to be a statistic.
This WILL pass. Isolation isn’t healthy for human beings and it’s taken its toll on even the most emotionally healthy individuals. But as a recovered society, we will get through this. We will get back to physical recovery meetings again, but thank God we have the virtual ones for now! Those were not even options when I first got sober. There wasn’t any form of an online recovery community in 2010. Heck, Instagram wasn’t even around yet. We have tools today to use during all of this. Please use them.
And while I have mostly centered this around the coronavirus, I will say it again: You Can Stay Sober No Matter What.
Death of loved ones, financial hardships, multiple miscarriages, health problems – I’ve been through it all without picking back up, friends. Something that I never would have imagined would have been possible. The even cooler thing is that I don’t even see it as an option anymore.
If you’ve lost a job throughout all of this, please hang on. If you’re drowning in a world of your own thoughts during quarantine, please reach out. If you’re hurting today, don’t give up. This will pass, I absolutely promise. Our part is to continue to reach out to one another and do what we can to stay well and sober. I may create another post in the coming days with suggestions on how to do that.