“Life beyond sobriety.” (03/04/17)

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Once you’re sober, you can’t get any soberer. After the first 72 hours or so, that’s it, you’re sober. Oh sure, you can get healthier and smarter. You can improve your relationships with people as time passes. You can learn to be a calmer and more pleasant person. You can develop a sense of gratitude and appreciation for small things in life. You can improve your standard of living and do great things for your own life. But you can’t get any more sober. Once you’re there, that’s it. Making the best out of your sobriety becomes a lifelong undertaking and that’s “Life beyond sobriety.”

I spent most of my adolescence and adult life getting drunk and doing drugs. I’ve been completely clean and sober for over 11 years. But that still means I spent more years drunk and loaded than sober. Yet now, living as a non-drinker and non-user is very normal for me and I’ve almost forgotten about being a former drug addict and boozer. (Almost)

When I first stopped drinking and doing drugs, all I could think about, talk about and work on was staying sober. As time passed and I began to feel better (both physically and mentally), I began thinking about my future life. I held high hopes that sobriety would bring me a better life. I kept waiting. Time passed. Nothing. I would sit there and think, “Okay, I’m sober. Now what?” After about two years of doing that I had an awakening. For whatever reason, I realized that sobriety itself wouldn’t bring me anything. I knew that I had to take action and utilize my sober mind and sober body to create a better life for myself. Sobriety alone wasn’t going to do it for me.

I began writing out a plan. I wrote out all the things I wanted and didn’t want as a result of living sober. I wrote out goals and made a list of activities I needed to perform to achieve those goals. I wrote out how I wanted to behave in social situations. I wrote out ideas of how I can avoid and address all of life’s temptations. I wrote out a list of my skills and weaknesses. I then had a clear picture of what I was good at and what areas I needed to work on. I wrote out a list of my natural abilities and my limitations. I could then move my life and career in a more positive direction by taking advantage of my own natural abilities. I wrote everything out in great detail. I compiled all of those self-help ideas and writings then organized them into a book. That book is titled: Okay, I quit. Now what? Becoming a Re-Invented Alcoholic.

However, after doing all of that writing and following my own advice for all of these sober years, I still seem to be missing out on something. But I have the good fortune to know what’s wrong. As my sober time passes I’ve been getting lazy. I’ve been forgetting to regularly think about and write out what I want out of sobriety and what I want from a sober life. I’ve become complacent with regard to utilizing my sobriety for my own benefit. But this isn’t just based around laziness, I’ve grown slightly bored with sobriety. No, I’m not at risk of relapsing.

I don’t want to say that I’m disappointed with sobriety, I’m disappointed with myself and what I’ve been able to do for myself with my sobriety. When I first quit I believed that I would be happier, more successful, smarter and make wiser decisions. I’m sure that all of those things have come true, but not to the level or sensation of experience I had hoped for. I have no hesitation in saying that for fact I am healthier, wiser, more knowledgeable, better educated, more financially stable and my life is far calmer than at any time when I was drinking and using. But it still feels like something is missing; I haven’t made the most out of my sober body and mind.

My hope is that YOU DO make a wonderful sober life for yourself. Think about what you want from a sober life and make a written list of goals. I did that for a few years and I was able to accomplish my goals, but now I need to remind myself of how to continue making the most out of my sobriety. I need to go back and follow my own advice.

This article isn’t just me blathering on about me. I want to jog your memory a bit. I want to get you thinking about your own life. Maybe you can recognize some similarities between us. Maybe you’ve found yourself becoming complacent and lazy with your sobriety.

Living beyond sobriety is like getting a new puppy. It’s fun and exciting to get a new puppy. There are a few headaches that come with it. There are some messes and of course there’s the training and attention that a puppy needs. But you get used to it and in a little while you forget all about the “newness” of the puppy. Then six months go by, a year, then 2 years and you suddenly realize you have a dog! You might see an old picture or find something that reminds you of how small and awkward your puppy was. But you didn’t see it growing and evolving hour by hour and day by day. But now you have a full grown dog and it’s a normal part of your life and you’re used to it. That’s what living beyond sobriety is like. It becomes a normal part of your life and you get used to it. That’s when you might become complacent and stop working at making the best out of your sobriety.

I’m not inferring that by being complacent you’re at risk of a relapse. A relapse is a possibility, but I’m more concerned that you continue to grow a better life and a better existence for yourself by using your sobriety. Use your clear mind to enjoy your life. Use your clear mind to discover your natural talents and interests. Exploit yourself. If anybody’s going to exploit you it should be you. Use your clear mind to learn more and engage with the world more. This is it. This is YOUR sobriety. Take advantage of it. Make the most out of it. You’ve worked too hard to get to this point. Don’t allow complacency to derail your train.

I can pretty safely presume that if I ever started drinking again, most of my immediate world would begin to collapse within about a week. I have worked too hard and have made too much progress to let it all slip away in such a short amount of time. (Okay, it may not ALL collapse that fast, but it would certainly start unraveling quickly.) Besides, I’ve given YOU my word of honor that I won’t go back to drinking. I may not know you personally, but I’ve made you a promise and I will stick to my promise.

So my challenge to you is this: “What are you going to do with your sober life? What do you want out of sobriety? How will you make the best out of it? How can you get the most out of your own brilliant sober mind and make a wonderful life for yourself and for those who you care about?” Or you can sit around and be miserable. You can feel sorry for yourself. You can feel guilty about your past. You can feel as shitty or as angry as you want. But as long as you’re sober, why not make the best out of it?

The emotions and results of sobriety are always evolving. Change and evolve with your sobriety. Stay involved in your sobriety by always thinking about how you can make the most out of it. Please do me a favor and make the best out of your life. Chances are good that this is the only one you’ll ever have. Go out there and live beyond sobriety.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

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