by Elaine Palmore

“Not everyone who drinks is a poet. Some of us drink because we’re not poets.” Dudley Moore

We are on a journey to learn about ourselves. When the gift of awareness arrives, it will be in stark contrast to the unconsciousness, insensitivity, and self centeredness that life was before our recovery. When we begin to listen instead of always being the one to speak and responding thoughtfully to what is being said it is indeed a turning point. We are one step closer to becoming aware.

In most cases we are not talking about being on the path to enlightenment. We are merely becoming aware of ourselves, other people, and our surroundings. It is important to remember that when we are in active addiction nothing matters to us but fulfilling the craving. Now that we are on the path to being sober we slow our bodies and minds enough to absorb the reality that the world does not revolve around us. It is not always about getting our needs met. Sometimes this realization comes quickly and sometimes slowly.

As we begin to move forward and feel emotions again or perhaps for the first time, a type of tenderness sets in and we sometimes panic or become lost and confused as to how to respond. Hopefully by this time we have chosen a group, mentor, guide, or sponsor who can talk us down off the ceiling and help us feel better about new knowledge.

Awareness can be a double edged sword. For instance if we have become so overweight that it is effecting our health and the weight gain went unnoticed by us because we have been in active addiction, this self awareness will be striking. If our marriage has fallen apart because of the addiction of one or more of the partners and we suddenly become aware of these issues, we will definitely require some additional support and assistance and we will be surprised at how far this has gone without our knowledge. If we have ignored or otherwise neglected our children, this too may become all too obvious when we are sober again. I have personally known several people in recovery who woke up from being addicted and discovered that their gender identification or sexual orientation was no longer relevant or all wrong. Perhaps it was these or similar issues that were the root cause of excessive alcohol use or drug use initially.

Early sobriety can be a painful and desperate time, like being on a horse that is constantly trying to buck you to the ground. Please try and remember as you stumble through as we all do, that recovery is a process not an event. In early sobriety it is often enough to just hold on, improve your spiritual life, attend support meetings, and stay away from temptation whatever that might be. Most of the recovery literature states that we cannot stay sober without increasing our spiritual life and that self-knowledge will not keep us sober. becoming aware of who you are and what you mean to the world around you will truly be a blessing.

One more quote, this one from Maya Angelou: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” So, please get to know yourself, embrace the awareness, and tell someone your story.