Sobriety is NOT that simple

Sobriety is NOT that simple

A huge part of my continued sobriety is reading. I love books. I love learning. My name is Sara, and I am a nerd. I also like inspirational quotes and passages. I get daily emails with motivational wordstuffs around sobriety. Sometimes, they are so damn on-the-spot that I feel like the writer is spying on me (or is that my anxiety?). Today was not the case. Today, my motivational wordstuffs pissed me off:

In the Sixth and Seventh Steps of the program, we become willing to let go of our defects of character – issues, behaviors, old feelings, unresolved grief, and beliefs that are blocking us from the joy that is ours. Then we ask God to take them from us.

Isn’t that simple? We don’t have to contort ourselves to make ourselves change. We don’t have to force change. For once, we don’t have to “do it ourselves.” All we have to do is strive for an attitude of willingness and humility. All we have to do is ask God for what we want and need, and then trust God to do for us that which we cannot do and do not have to do for ourselves.

We do not have to watch with bated breath for how and when we shall change. This is not a self-help program. In this miraculous and effective program that has brought about recovery and change for millions, we become changed by working the Steps.

All emphasis added was mine. The part in red was what, well, made me see red. So you get to see it in red too! #sharedexperiences

Sobriety is not that simple *

ANYWAY, I hate the assertion that sobriety is simple. IT IS NOT. It is 100% not simple and easy to change a behavior that that is compulsive, persistent, and results in brain changes that challenge your own self-control. That’s why so many addicts relapse, and why there are so many different pathways to sobriety. If sobriety were easy and simple, everyone would do it the first time!

Compared to stories I’ve heard, my road to sobriety was relatively easy. I haven’t relapsed since my last drink on September 9, 2006. I haven’t been incarcerated. I haven’t lost my children, my spouse, my family members, or friends due to drinking. I never lost my job or became homeless. I never had to be hospitalized for health reasons related to drinking or detoxing. I don’t list all these things to brag – I’m grateful that these didn’t happen to me because I understand how easily they could have.

Sobriety isn't easy *
I have all this, thanks to the hard work of sobriety

However, it’s not smart to compare your sobriety journey to that of others’. My sobriety journey was not easy, nor was it simple. Also, once I completed the sixth and seventh steps, I didn’t just sit back and let things happen. I continued to work. Instead of making snap decisions based on how I felt at the moment, I tried to consider all consequences that could occur (translation: I cared about how my actions affected others and didn’t just act on whim). I analyzed how I felt, and reached out for help from supportive people if those feelings were too big to handle on my own. Some might call that God working in my life. That’s fine. I choose to also respect the hard work I was doing.

I would also argue that recovery work IS a self-help program. I mean, if I wasn’t willing to admit I was an addict, or seek help, I’d still be blacking out from too many Jack & Cokes on the weekends. Self-help doesn’t have to mean you do it all on your own – it isn’t called All-By-Your-Self-help.

Sobriety isn't that simple *

Motivational wordstuffs such as this mean well, but I feel they can be very damaging to recovery work. I could easily see someone thinking, my sobriety wasn’t simple, so what am I doing wrong? It’s dangerous to simplify sobriety work. It isn’t simple. It’s messy and complicated and hard and time-consuming. Is it worth it? YES. Absolutely. Just don’t call it simple.



I’ve been thinking a lot about control lately.

Sometimes it’s a good thing, like when you want to eat all the Cheez-Its while your healthy dinner is cooking (true story). Self-control is an amazing quality to have and one I continue to cultivate.

But where else is control a good thing? Can a person really control anything besides his/her own behaviors, actions, thoughts and feelings? I’m inclined to say no. And I think we spend a lot of time being unhappy because we’re trying so dang hard to control things that are, frankly, out of our control.

I had one of those “a-ha” moments recently. Dinner has always been a battle with my son. To the point where pretty much everyone dreaded it. I’d cook a healthy meal, my husband and I could beg/cajole/threaten/barter/bribe our son to just take a bite, he’d refuse. Repeat. Sometimes it ended with me in tears, because even though I know I shouldn’t take the opinions of a 3-year-old to heart, sometimes it really, really hurt that he rejected the meals I cooked. It got so bad that one night (when he was having sweet potato pancakes – a favorite – for dinner), my son announced, “This isn’t dinner. This is yummy!” Dinner had officially became a bad word.

Well, I got tired of being angry and frustrated after a meal. So I hopped on Google and found this wonderful piece from Positive Parenting Solutions. It wasn’t about the food – it was about power. Colt is definitely entering a more defiant stage, so it makes sense that he’s figured out he can assert power over us at the dinner table, IF WE LET HIM. .

For the past few days, I have not engaged with him. I give him a plate of food (making sure to add one or two familiar foods if the main dish is something new), I ask him to eat and then I let it go. We tell him when dinner is about to be over, and then take the plate away when it’s over. No fighting, no whining, no threatening. He doesn’t always eat, but that’s ok. I’m giving him the power to choose, rather than trying to control whether he eats or not.

I know from my recovery work that trying to control too much is a guarantee that something will go wrong. Took me awhile to make the connection between the dinner battles and my need to control everything, but now that I have – sweet relief. Dinner is pleasant again. The part I can control is providing him with healthy foods. The rest is up to him.

What areas of parenting do you think you’ve been trying to control too much?