one year sober Yvette Hess blog

My first year of sobriety brought 4 unexpected lessons!

Reflecting on one year sober

Wow, who would have thought what could be possible in one year sober! This post is quite delayed as I celebrated my first year of sobriety on the 5th August 2018. But the fact remains: Yay Me!

Since my last post, where I spoke in a podcast to a counsellor, author and friend, Freddy van Rensburg, about my spiritual journey and the 12 step program, a lot more has happened. I decided to share a few lessons I learned during my first year of recovery. I’ll be honest and say that these lessons definitely solidified as  I got further into my recovery journey.

But for now, let’s dive into what I shared on day 365 of my sobriety journey.

one year sober Yvette Hess blog

My lessons learned in one year sober

I shared these lessons briefly on my Instagram and Facebook page profiles on day 365, 5th August 2018. Below, I’ll list the lessons and flesh them out a bit.

I got to a point where I was just tired of being seen as damaged goods. More importantly, I was tired of feeling like damaged goods. I realized that drinking was a way for me to cope with the overwhelming sense of not belonging and not being good enough.

1. You will need to face the regrets.

I think this one was a huge hurdle for me. It’s huge in the sense of being a people pleaser. Yeah, yeah, most of you reading here are people pleasers anyway. Sobriety brings with it, fresh memories and open eyes. So, when you think back or are triggered into thinking about the crazy, silly, stupid and hurtful things you did when you drank- it isn’t funny. You relive (or feel for the first time) a lot of shame. And this time, you can’t drink to numb it.

2. You do not need alcohol to be yourself (I think I could be funnier without it!)

This lesson surprised me a bit. Look, I heard you can have a good time when sober. But when you are 100% present and in the moment and really living that joy you’ve been craving? Nothing can beat that. No, wait. I know what can beat that. You actually remember that joy the day after, sans hangover. That’s a win right there!

3. Active addiction is NOT fun or glamorous

Yes,  “let’s get sloshed and forget all our problems” sounds like a great idea. Especially because you expect the laughing, flashing lights (in da club), the smooth care-free dance moves- basically what the media feeds you. That’s the glamour part. It’s still ‘escape’. Avoiding your feelings and subsequently doing inner work sounds so boring.  I yawned a bit just typing that. But, what are you risking by not doing the most rewarding work that would get you closer to fulfilling that need you are trying to quench with tequila?

One year sober will teach you that tequila won’t cost you a lot in terms of money, but it can cost you peace. And peace is glamourous. A timeless classic!

4. You cannot help everyone because not everyone wants to be helped AND not everyone is ready to be helped (bonus tip: it’s not your job to help everyone)

Wow. I know, that bonus tip really got to me after my first year hey. I thought that it became my job to fix everyone. I’m sure there’s an unwritten rule somewhere that nice people are supposed to fix everyone… But it’s not my job. Yes, I can provide support, but it isn’t really my responsibility. The only responsibility I have is to look after myself. You can ask anyone who does mental health-related work to confirm this: YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. If I don’t prioritize it, who loses at the end of the day?

I do.

Sure, inspire others. But look after yourself first.


Last bit from me

I’ll probably share more of these lessons in the next blogposts, but flesh them out even more. It’s funny how these four lessons, and staying sober, got me thinking of how they are rooted in challenges we all face every once and a while.

I have gone from drinking bottles of wine and hiding them in my cupboard (daily), to having my first solo artist exhibition at an established art gallery and being invited to facilitate workshops to even being invited to be a speaker at events.

You do not need to do the same. Maybe you just want peace or freedom. You need to do what works for you, work it until you believe you are worth it.

I too have a long way to go.

I’d love for you to tell me about the lessons you learned in sobriety? Were they surprising at all? Did anything catch you off guard?

Check the video below. I did it on my phone so forgive the rugged feel. <3



  1. Keri-Lee Stroebel says:

    Love this!

    1. Yvette says:

      Thank you Keri! I think each of the lessons deserves their own blogpost but I wanted to give a glimpse into my thinking at that point. <3

  2. Yvette I am so proud of you and so happy – a 1 year milestone is a huge achievement and you are already 2 months past that. Before you know it you will be racking up the recovery years 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your amazing insights, they are all spot on. I can relate to each and every one. You will see how your life changes and these blessings add up. It is the incredible journey ever.

    I am so inspired and motivated by your journey. Yes maybe I am your “sponsor and recovery mentor” but in all honesty these things are two way, not just one way. Thank you for playing a huge role in my recovery, for being an amazing friend and for trusting me all the way, for taking the suggestions I give you with both hands and amazing me with the way you are moving forward in leaps and bounds with your personal growth and discovery every day.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Oh and practice saying no some more, remember saying no is not about the other person so much as you saying YES to Yvette.

    1. Yvette says:

      Thank you so very much Lynne. I think what truly changed my life was the way you helped me- it was genuine and gentle. Not a single bit of judgement in your tone or when you asked me more about my struggles. And your love and support as a friend and a sponsor were the same. It was life-changing and I’ll forever be grateful.

      I love you my friend. Thank you for being a light and appreciating my light too.

      And hell YES to Yvette. She deserves some YES in her life.

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