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painting miniature female figures But I can't watercolour art

Sober and Awake – in recovery from addiction – the journey continues

I’m awake. I’m awake and living officially in recovery from addiction.

Who knew in recovery from addiction would feel like being very awake

Suddenly I’m alive and well.

“But who are these people in my life and how did I get here?”

“And who the hell am I?”

These are some of the questions I ask myself now. I am not sure if it’s normal. I should probably have a proper session with one of my best friends and sponsor, Lynne Huysamen from Living with Addiction and Kaboutjie. She is going for 10 years sobriety on the 2 August. I’m heading to one whole year (which feels like much longer) on the 5 August 2018. Should probably do something in celebration too…

What I wanted to write about were these specific weird questions and feelings that have come up since my last blogpost on being positive despite the crap. I tried to explain this phenomenon to a few people in my circle. It went something like this:

“I think this must be what it feels like to wake up from a five-year coma.”

“So you’re telling me I’ve been a stay at home mom for four years now?” Referring to being married with three children and not pursuing a career.

“Where did all these people come from?” Referring to almost 5000 friends on Facebook and not really knowing where I know many of them from.

“Wow, I have soooooo much energy and feel like doing stuff!”

“I feel ALIVE.”

Look, I’ll be honest, the questions above have been edited. There were a few f-bombs sprinkled like glitter. Obviously.

Are people not writing about this?

Some of my friends have shared that they have heard similar stories from people who have been sober for a year or more. I haven’t read much about those kinds of stories online. Maybe I’m googling the wrong things. Somehow I need to combine “in recovery from addiction” with “feels like I’m waking up from a coma” and “is this normal?”

Seems like I’ll really have to dig to get these posts. Please share links to posts I can read more about

The downside to the good news

The good news: I am living again. The bad news?

This is not the life I wanted.


Maybe this is a midlife crisis. I hope not because I really don’t want to die soon. I’ve just started living after all.

What if, in the years of being in active addiction, you make decisions that were not true to what you wanted for yourself? I’m talking major life decisions. And then, you ‘wake up’ and find yourself in a life that perhaps you didn’t necessarily want.

What if you wake up to a life you never wanted?

Do people write about this stuff?

It’s all good and well that we say it’s great to be sober and we are free. Oh and we save so much money on alcohol.

But what about the flipside?

I’m not saying I’m going to run away from my responsibilities. Breaking free from alcohol has allowed me to regain a lot of the power I gave away. I gave my power away daily, not only to the alcohol but also to the people around me. So part of me taking my life back is consciously fixing that. I never wanted to get married or have children. Now, I’m married with three children. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Boom. That’s what I’ve been for a few years because someone told me that maybe I should “stop working and take time off to be a mom.”

Huh, I thought I was.

But now what?

Anyway, many of my major life decisions were not always not based on what I wanted for myself. In fact, I can confidently say that I really struggled to be myself for many years. I felt misunderstood.

I still feel misunderstood and different and like an outcast. But, I believe I am better equipped to deal with WHY I feel so in certain situations. For example, I always loved the idea of living a life that was different.

I never wanted to be typical anything, like typical hair (hence the afro). I didn’t want a typical career or lifestyle.  But I became typical in many senses like for example, when I became part of the statistics of young South African women in colour falling pregnant out of wedlock.

I could name so many instances where I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, being in situations I didn’t want to be in. I was very aware of the mistakes I was making, but the drinking helped me cope with being uncomfortable. But what I didn’t realize is, is that it took away the power I needed to swim against the current.

Now I need to make tough situations with my renewed energy.

I need to prioritize authenticity.

I need to prioritize the life I wanted, with the people I love. And I want to do it in a way that comes from a place of love.

They say sober is sexy. It is, but it is also work.

Being sober and being in recovery from addiction, and staying sober is hard work.

Why? Because you have to face yourself, not necessarily other people.

You can’t run to the bottle when you discover mistakes or face shame.

You cannot drink to ease the regret or ease the loss of friends.

Emerging from the life of addiction

What emerges after a life in the dark?

The wonder of being able to see. To really see and appreciate the beauty of life.

But also the realization that you know what is best for you, what works for you and what inspires you.

More importantly, you realize you have the power to create the life you dreamed of all along. You were never powerless. You never were an outsider.

Now that you’re awake, what changes are you going to make?

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