Two years sober. I am two fucking years sober.
Twenty four months without a sip of alcohol. What a journey it has been so far. I documented my first year of sobriety heavily, I was more focused on dissecting each obstacle that I came across. Within three months into my second year of sobriety, I found love and the man of my dreams who would comfortably knock me out of my comfort zone. My first year of sobriety was all about self-love, my second year was also about loving myself but also about learning how to love another like I never have before. Very scary. This made me very uncomfortable very often. Although I was more vocal and public about my road to recovery in the first 12 months, I gained more attention and more people in addiction recovery found me and connected with me during my second year, a year where I pulled back and became more private.
Here are a few things I learned about my second year in alcohol addiction recovery…
ONE. It doesn’t get easier.
I remember in one of the AA meetings I attended the group guide saying that every day it gets harder and even after over 4 decades of sobriety, he still thinks about relapsing. Granted I was still only fresh (and still am) on the path of sobriety, I thought, “Yeah, bullshit… how is that even possible?” Well, it’s true and I started to hear those voices in my head at about 18 months sober. The first year for me was all about muting those voicing, blocking them all out and focusing on all these new positive habits, there was no way in the world I’d let them in. I was emotionally resilient, disciplined and stubborn. Great, it worked but in the second year I started to hear those demons creep back in and say, “You weren’t that bad.” These voices would paralyse me at dinner while I’d sit with my husband at a nice restaurant, “Maybe I could have just one glass of wine with my meal?” I’d tell myself, toying with the idea of a mini relapse that I’d convince myself was okay for a moment. This would happen routinely each time I was in the presence of alcohol, if friends were drinking around me or if I was at a private function.
It’s ironic because before I quit drinking I couldn’t taste the alcohol anymore, now it’s all I can taste when I look at a glass of wine.
TWO. Suicidal thoughts ran through my head.
Would you believe me if I told you that about a month after I got married to the man of my dreams I was so down and depressed that I had these random thoughts of suicide cross my mind? Well, I did and it freaked the shit out of me. It freaked me out most because now I had everything I ever wanted, why the hell wasn’t my mental health in top form? I was still struggling on the inside. It was a period of time I had to be honest with myself and my husband. Fortunately, after many deep conversations, I realised that I wasn’t waking alone in recovery anymore. I am so lucky to have somebody cheerleading me on this path and someone who embraces my demons instead of invalidating them. I was so used to being on my own and working through my trauma by myself that I failed to recognise there are two of us on this journey now, fortunately, this makes it a lot easier. I understand that not everyone is this lucky and if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts in recovery, I advise that you seek professional help and/or talk to somebody you can confide in. Also, know that it actually normal in your second year of recovery to have thoughts of suicide cross your mind. So next time you take a look at my life and think it’s all picture-perfect, let me confirm now that I still struggle even though I have it all.
THREE. “I’m no fun.”
I never really cared about being fun and entertaining in the first year, I was still finding my feet in Zagreb and figuring out who my real friends were. In my second year of sobriety, I found a handful of new friends, old ones resurfaced and I also met the man who would go on to be my husband five months after we met. On several occasions, I’d just feel like I was no fun and a boring shadow of the party girl I once was. It would really upset me. It was like I just couldn’t shake that party girl out of me.
My husband has never seen me drink or drunk, he will never see me drink or drunk. We will never have drunk sex, the only sex I ever once knew. I will never be tipsy around him. We will never share a bottle of wine for a milestone. I went through a period where this lack of fun within myself irritated me but had to reevaluate what my definition of fun really was. Was being out all night and drinking appealing to me anymore? No. Who was I trying to be “fun” for? My partner who doesn’t know any other version of me but the one he fell in love with from day one?
FOUR. Reevaluating who I want to be.
My first year of sobriety was all about documenting my recovery journey and new life in Croatia, in the second year after meeting my partner, I became more reclusive. I didn’t want to give anyone I didn’t know access to my life after we got married. It was a very interesting conversation to have with myself because part of “switching off” from social media meant “switching off” from a lot of my community. Sure, my community wasn’t that big but I had the right eyeballs and my story was helping others. Whether they were after what life in Croatia was like as diaspora, a general introduction to navigating your travels within Croatia or someone in addiction recovery, I connected with a certain type of person. In my first year of recovery, it was all about getting my name out there but in the second year, I just didn’t care if I wasn’t mentioned or noticed. I kind of just wanted a lot of privacy and realised not everyone deserves a seat at my table.
I removed almost 9000 people off my Instagram, yes- it took a few months and switched it to private. I shared less of my life in environments where I have the least control. This decision came at a time where I had the MOST to show and brag about. I noticed that all my mentors and women I admired had all retained their privacy and were not selling themselves out for attention and likes.
FIVE. Deep Sleep.
Remember all those years I spent partying and drinking like a fish, passing out, I mean blacking out? Well, I started to catch up on those decent night’s sleep properly. My sleep was that deep you could pass a circus through my room and it wouldn’t have woken me up. In my second year of sobriety, my sleep was so deep and elusive, I’d have vividly intense dreams quite frequently. This is also normal as your brain and it’s chemical balances begin to normalise.
SIX. Developing Healthy and Positive Relationships.
When I first moved to Zagreb and first began my sobriety journey, I attracted every Tom, Dick & Harry, both male and female. Some people were good, some people were innately bad and others faded out as fast as I met them. Entering sobriety in a whole new city where you basically don’t know anyone was difficult. I didn’t drink, I was still teaching myself to say No to alcohol and why I had to say no. It was as though my vices were routinely placed in front of me to test my desire for my new life. Fortunately, I survived these tests and still do, although they are less visible these days.
When you enter recovery you quickly notice people for who they really are. Some people are good people and will respect your path and help you, I had a few of those, I was lucky. But you often find that you’ll have to share the same path with a few assholes who will have no respect for your desire to be sober and will try to trick you into relapsing. They are usually addicts themselves and in denial about their struggles. I have a very good natural instinct and thanks to my abusive first boyfriend, I can usually tell someone is bad news moments after meeting them. I removed a lot of people from my life just as my husband entered my life.
You know, as much as I’d like to believe that people want the best for me and share my success and happiness with me, I am so aware that there are plenty who want to see me fail. They want to see my relapse and give up this “facade.” Plenty who still can’t believe that I actually did it. Plenty who are still struggling in their own addictions with their own demons and I can only hope that one day they can find the strength that I did and choose the light.
Through my somewhat reclusive and lesser visible nature, I have focused on developing relationships with people who are positive, focused on their goals and really want the best out of their lives. I have a husband who is obsessed with living a healthy lifestyle and always on my back about my new found love for sugar and how I need to remove this new addiction from my life. I have become more self-aware of the types of people I want around me, the type of life I want to live and the example I’d like to set for my own children. It’s all baby steps but the further I walk down the path of sobriety, the more things begin to align for the better.
SEVEN. Honesty Is The Best Policy.
If you want to win in sobriety, you must be honest with yourself first- This is my biggest lesson. I have reduced the shame associated with my sobriety to a point where I will shame you if you think you can shame me for being so open about my demons and struggles. Nobody is perfect, everybody we know is hurting inside over something unbeknown to us. I have learned over the past 2 years that owning my story is my power and my greatest asset. When you own it, it can’t hurt you anymore.
As you can see, my journey has had its bumps in the road and if you’re finding that yours does too, hang in there, it is all normal. Nothing worth having is easy to have and to attain. Continue to treat your sobriety as the most sacred part of you and take in each obstacle as a lesson that is part of the journey. I get a lot of emails from random people who stumble across my posts and they all emphasise I need to share my journey more often, I promise to do so from now on. I really wanted to spend this second year focused on my relationship and dealing with all the uncomfortable feelings that arose from it. I will share these in the future.
A special THANK YOU to everyone who has played any part in my recovery journey so far.