by Beth Siegert, CPC, CPRC, ACC, CFAA
Achievement is deeply satisfying. Common achievements include: the satisfaction at a job well done, learning a challenging new skill, obtaining a degree, the arrival of a new baby—the list is endless. All the items listed above involve significant hard work. Sobriety is certainly an achievement. Amazing as it is, it also involves significant work every day. Currently enjoying 35 years of my sober life, I want to share what I call “The Gifts of Sobriety’.
Calmness of Body, Mind, and Speech
After working through the difficulties of obtaining sobriety and working toward maintaining sobriety, I have developed a calmness of body (no more running around like a lunatic), speech (the lack of “blurting”), and mind (the hamster is no longer on the wheel!). My journey has included not only putting down various substances but also learning to ask for and accept help from others. Assistance from people who care enough to extend themselves (professionally and personally) has proven to be a crucial element in developing this calmness. To be relieved of chaos, shame, anger, and fear, to know how to manage these unhealthy and unhelpful emotions when they arise—is priceless. Discerning Wisdom
My sober journey has taken many unanticipated paths. For example, the opportunity for developing discerning wisdom. Over time, my view on life is more accurate. In general, I am able to look at things more clearly after having been able to remove the filters of my own creation and those placed on me by family and society. I am also more discerning about who or what I will spend my energy on in any given day. Discovery of Joy
Sobriety has allowed me to be less fearful of my feelings. I can describe myself as more appreciative, grateful, and accepting of myself and others. I genuinely love learning. An integral part of my joy is having learned who is a source of joy, replacing an old framework about what thing (the next promotion, the next unhealthy relationship, the new car or new house) is a source of joy. Being a person who is present and able to fully participate in my life as ME is joyous. I am ME, no matter whether I am the daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, co-worker, or someone you have not met yet. This solid sense of self enhances my joy and zest for life. Freedom from Living in Fear
Active addictions are very tough on a person and the people in their lives. The progression of my sobriety has brought me to deeper levels of freedom, ironically, the kind of freedom that I had thought substances were providing for me all the years that I was active in my addictions. I no longer live in fear: aspects in life are not either good or bad —it just “is”. Nor am I demoralized about who I am and how I choose to live. At this point, I am not afraid of the fact that people, places, and things will ebb and flow within my life.
Developing spirituality, not necessarily in relation to a particular religion, has proven to be a great source of comfort and relief. Coming to know that I truly am not responsible for the entire world, just my small place in the grand scheme of things, helps me live a life in harmony with my values. I no longer have the need to defend or explain myself. Freedom from Anxiety
I’ve learned to trust myself and my intuition. I am now free to begin to trust people before they have had the time to prove their trustworthiness (it helps that my “people picker” has improved greatly over time). This enhances my self-confidence and new relationships. On the flip side, this also helps me to let go of relationships that prove to be untrustworthy or unhealthy. Expansion of Perspective
I am very honest about embarking on my sobriety journey 34 years ago. It wasn’t easy. It is important to note that I did not do it alone. I had to change in order to progress within sobriety. I often tell my clients, “I didn’t say sobriety would be easy, I said it would be worth it.”
More often than not, people have buttons and when they are pushed, it can lead one down a certain path of unhealthy thinking or actions. In my early sobriety, I was talking to my dear friend. She was both wise and hilarious. I once complained to her that I wanted to get rid of my buttons. She responded, “While working on removing the buttons, sometimes we just have to move them so they can’t be pushed.” And so I sought help to remove my buttons/triggers in order to avoid “picking up” or creating some other source of chaos in my life.
I have found that there has been a significant expansion of perspective as a main gift of sobriety. Two examples include: I had a drive/need to be right and was very judgemental. Also, failure was not acceptable in my family of origin, perfection was expected. I was very fearful of failure. I have left those perceptions behind. I have found that you enjoy people and things more when you observe and enjoy them as is. I enjoy developing my “perspectacles.”
"It is under the greatest adversity that there exists
the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and for others. "
It has taken quite the effort to arrive at the point of not allowing the behavior of others to take away my happiness. The inner strength and fortitude that has developed over time have provided me with an energy that I protect. I am selective regarding who I spend time with and of my general environment. After many years of effort, I am much more able to “let things go”. Inner peace is a direct side effect of working and practicing living sober, thus making life more enjoyable.
When I feel challenged with what life is presenting to me, I get help from my support network which is mix of people including my personal, spiritual, and professional relationships, and sometimes, complete strangers. I never know who will say something I need to hear on that particular day.
I am naturally motivated in new ways. I have a true desire to learn and put into action something new every day. In Conclusion:
Ultimately, my addictions (I cycled through a few) did not make me happy. They provided the illusion of happiness, for a while. Ultimately, it nearly killed me in body, speech, and mind. I found myself at a crossroads, choosing between the insanity of living as an active addict or change, to become sober. Obtaining and maintaining sobriety, along with changing, began as a tough road. Today, the difficulties are few and far between.
People have asked me, ” Why do you continue to cherish your sobriety?” The answer to that question could easily fill a book or be answered in just one sentence. The gifts that come with living a sober life continue to amaze and surprise me and make the daily effort absolutely worth it.
Beth Siegert, CPC, CPRC, ACC, CFAA is an Executive Coach with a specialized niche in Recovery Coaching. She is available for coaching and guest speaking. To contact her, send an email to: email@example.com or call 877.449.6393.
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