I have often wondered what the meaning of the word sober is.
I often hear it among friends in my recovery circle. We all have a group consensus that it means we don't drink, do drugs or anything that intoxicates or numbs us out.
I personally feel that the word Sober has a much deeper meaning. Sobriety is not just abstaining from an addiction, it is about doing the work that brings us health mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Why is Sobriety more than just abstaining?
Though abstaining from your choice of drug/ habit is a huge change, just stopping there leads many into being a dry drunk. A dry drunk is a term for someone who stops drinking or doing drugs, but doesn't change their lives in other ways. This person will continue with the same patterns, often substituting drinking for gambling, sex, exercise, binge watching, food etc. until the void for alcohol is satisfied. They also may continue to have excessive anger, jealousy, self pity, inability to live in the present, overconfidence, and/ or denial.
So, sobriety is more than abstaining. It's more than going to meetings. It's more than having a sober network. It’s about having emotional sobriety. Emotional sobriety is about doing the work, growing and striving to do better. It means addressing areas of your life that caused you to drink, accepting that you are powerless to this addiction, trusting the process and a higher power.
Where to Start? Getting Honest
One of the first steps of gaining emotional sobriety is getting honest about what you are feeling or the way you are behaving. It’s not always easy. Many people in recovery see those around them doing well and feeling happy, and they don’t want to admit that they are struggling. They want to pretend that everything is okay. Many of them will take their bad feeling and try to pray it, meditate it, service it, or spiritually distract themselves from it, thinking that this means they are working a good program. They wear a mask and present a false spiritual self that represses aspects of their true self. They don’t even want to admit to themselves that they are not as happy as they pretend to be.
Being sober and having emotional sobriety means being able to acknowledge when all is not well. It means shelving the ego and asking for help when it’s needed. It means being able to experience all emotions, not just the ones that are enjoyable.
I find journaling helps in getting honest about my sobriety. Try spending a few minutes every day, tracking your emotions. Why are you feeling that way? What activities are you doing to distract yourself? Look for patterns (archetypal sobriety), and don’t judge. Just notice.
The bottom line when it comes to being sober is that putting down drugs is just the first step in a lifelong process. Being sober and living in sobriety is about finding peace and serenity.