Are you afraid to leave the place where you got sober?

12 Dec

1:15 pm

I’ve been wondering this lately, in a tangential sort of way.  Like, I think about other stuff, and my thoughts end up at this question.  Usually I’m thinking about how I feel bored with sobriety, in a general sense.  Like, it’s just not pink clouds anymore, ever.  *I’m* no longer a pink cloud–and I wonder, where have I gone?  Sometimes, I do long for the “old” “just getting sober” me.  The truth is, not only is being sober no longer enough, but I expect a lot LOT more from myself now.  So, it all just feels like work–normal life, I guess.

I miss walking the hills, passing the tropical flowering brush, feeling literally buzzed by the fact that I am sober, that I get this–this life.  These days, I still do very much appreciate all of it–maybe more so now, more fully–but I don’t feel that same rush of getting sober and all the feeling of newness and accomplishment and being newly, well, in love with myself again.  I just feel…bored.  Been here, done this.  Time to move on.

And, move on, I have.  I did.  I went to the west coast last year, for oh, 8 months, and worked a “big girl” job again.  (which, as you can probably guess, was pretty easy, and pretty low-key compared to freelancing)  And, I survived everything I was afraid of, namely, will I not only be able to stay sober in a new place, in a new job, in a new lifestyle, but will I thrive?

I have to say, I guess I did both survive and thrive, even though I felt depressed most of the time.  When I got home, I felt changed, much stronger, much more confident, able to interact with the “real world”–things that never would have been nurtured if I had stayed here, in my old, pink-cloud life.  SO, that was good.  And, it’s had me wondering ever since, how many people don’t leave where they got sober because they’re afraid they’ll lost their sobriety in exchange for possible big personal growth?

Are you afraid that leaving the sober life, patterns, and habits that you’ve developed where you are will put you at risk for relapse?  Do you want to leave, but fear you can’t because you’re not sure how or if you can establish similar new, healthy coping skills somewhere else?  I think I know quite a few people down here who stay for YEARS…and I wonder if it’s for that very reason.

I wasn’t particularly worried about relapsing when I went away, but I did fear that I would be more stressed, and more triggered, and have more cravings.  I did at first, but I was NEVER, EVER at risk of a relapse.  (And, these days,  I don’t think I would even choose to spend money, drink liquid sugar, and feel like total ass the next day, if given the no-strings choice.)  In fact, after the initial freakout (yup, there was one night–week, let’s say), things went back to where they were before I got sober, which is to say, I’m good at work.  I always have been really (pathologically) good at doing well at work while living a (secretly) disastrous personal life.

Still, I had quite a bit of apprehension.  I’m glad I got over it because I came back feeling very much motivated, strong, and confident.  Not that I feel that way every day these days (I’ve been home for 8 months), but more or less, I really do.  And, I wonder, how would it be if I lived out my fear, and stayed “stuck” here–I’m trying not to judge the folks here who have gotten sober and decided to just go with what works, mind you.  For me–and we all know who I am–I have to experiment, and cannot live in fear, as fear is my biggest trigger to use, whether emotionally or actually physically.  And, that leads me to ask another, even more general question about long-term sobriety:  how much fear is acceptable to live with and in, in exchange for security in your sobriety?  Do you–should you–work through your fears, all of them, gradually as the years wear on?

9 Responses to “Are you afraid to leave the place where you got sober?”

  1. ainsobriety December 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    I have reached 3 years sobriety.
    I don’t think I stay where I am to protect that. I have absolutely no interest in drinking. Life presents too many possibilities and I do know, with certainty, that drinking would limit them.

    When we evacuated in may and had to leave everything behind I did wonder if the loss of what was familiar would impact me. But, again, it only solidified the truth that sobriety is part of my stable foundation, and that it comes with me everywhere i go.
    So even through distress i knew it was important, and I surrounded myself with as much help and necessary to make a bad situation bearable.

    I have done so many things since I got sober. I became a yoga teacher, I wrote a book, I travelled alone.

    For a while I thought about moving, as I had been very discontent with where I live. I have worked for the same company for 20 years. And there are some real golden handcuffs there…but generally my perspective has shifted to a point where I know it’s all up to me to make wherever I am right for me.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense…


    • Drunky Drunk Girl December 13, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

      Yes, total sense made. I think I felt that way more in my earlier sobriety, actually…

  2. nursinggrudgesandliquor December 14, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    I get you on the pathologically good at work while living a secretly disastrous personal life. *raises hand*
    I find myself wanting to move on. Physically move on down the road. I feel more like where am I now is the scene of the crime lol and I want to go. But I am making an effort to do some repair here because I am kind of afraid of running off expecting geography to make the difference when really *I* always show up where ever I go. The plan I have in my head will have me moving about a year after I got sober.

  3. Rebecca A. Watson December 15, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    This is an interesting post … Sometimes I wonder if some recovering addicts are just programmed to never be content. Like nothing, even the sober life, isn’t enough. It was for a while but then, and then … I feel that way sometimes, like I am always pushing for that next thing, that next change, to make me somehow better. It is draining and I am thinking my word for 2017 is going to be Enough. I am enough. This life is enough. Enough, already! 😉

    “How much fear is acceptable to live with and in, in exchange for security in your sobriety? Do you–should you–work through your fears, all of them, gradually as the years wear on?”

    This is a good question. I had to quit a job in part because I was worried about my sobriety. But I wouldn’t call that living in fear instead I would call that facing my fear and knowing my limits. I do think we should work through fears as we go through our years. We owe that to our sober selves. I also think that many people are happy to live in the same place for a long time, with no thoughts of moving, so this fear of leaving the place they are in may not occur, but it could metaphorically. Like afraid to switch jobs because it might affect sobriety, etc.

    Just a rambling comment from you to me today 🙂 Hope all is well!

  4. Heather December 28, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    Hi – I’m on day 30 and I can relate to your blog so much it’s scary. Thanks for writing this. Truly.

  5. Heather December 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi (me again). I was wondering if I could email you with with some questions about your “journey” (gosh that seems like such a cheesy word, but I guess it fits)? Given how similar our situations seem to have been, I’d love it if I could ask you some questions which might help me out. No problem, if not! 🙂

    • Drunky Drunk Girl December 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

      Absolutely. I think my email is on my blog, but please send to

      • Heather December 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

        Thank you – I just sent you an email. I appreciate ANY thoughts you might have.

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