10 Inspiring Stories Of Finding Strength In Sobriety

“I know I can do so much better. I am made for so much more.”

Posted on July 30, 2017, 18:07 GMT

Facing a potential problem and getting sober is not an
easy choice, but for millions of people each year it’s a
necessary one. I reached out to people who were recovering
from addiction and asked them to be involved in a piece about
their experiences with finding strength in sobriety.
Addiction does not have to be the end of the road — it can
actually be a life-changing beginning.

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

Sobriety has changed my life. It’s hard for me to describe it
without closing my eyes and getting a little emotional. It
has changed every part of my being, the way that I move and
the way that I communicate. And the way that I experience
things, the way that I cultivate my relationships with
people. The way that I decorate myself. It has changed
everything for the better. I get to live with both sides of
me, the ugly and the good. I can maneuver things and figure
out what’s a good decision for me. The gray area just kind of
becomes a little less. There’s a whole world that is so
celebratory and celebrates you finding your truth. It’s a
thing where you’ll say, “I’m a month sober,” and people will
be like, Congratulations! That’s big. Or, like, four
days sober. I’m like, That’s so major. Good for you.
There’s this whole movement of people.

People assume that I’m this gay guy with big hair and big
rings and big jewelry and I’m sassy and on top of it and
confident. And I’m like, That all takes a lot of work.
And it comes from being vulnerable and being OK with being
vulnerable. And understanding my flaws and moving forward
with them and being like, This is what I am. This is
really who I am. I also want to show people that you can be
dealing with an addiction and struggling with it and still be
a part of society. It doesn’t make you any less “cool” — it
doesn’t take away from that. I want to show people a
different side of it. It’s kind of fun to have your shit
together! It’s kind of great to be like, Wow, I’m not
You can be suffering and still move forward. It
can be flawed, and it’s beautiful in all of its flaws. It
doesn’t have to be perfect. —Curly

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I never really felt like I had a choice in social situations
or the people I was around. I couldn’t really sort through
who I actually wanted to be around because I felt like I was
just along for the ride and I wasn’t really in charge. When
you’re an alcoholic and you’re not sober, you feel trapped.
It was just one blackout after another, messing up
relationships, apologizing for things. And it was pretty much
that way for 10 years. I look back and am amazed at how long
I was OK with settling for that life.

My friends right now wouldn’t tolerate me drinking — it would
be very strange for them. Nobody would be OK with it. That
also is a product of the way you are finally able to filter
out people in your life who aren’t very supportive and aren’t
very healthy for you. Those people kind of drop away as you
get sober and now I’m left with the good people in my life.
And that’s a continual process your whole life.

I think it’s important to be proud of being sober and to
share your story. Just like I talk about anything else going
on in my life, this is a part of me. There are a lot of
things I love in this world and sobriety is one of them, so I
like to talk about that very openly. I don’t think it’s for
everybody and I totally respect that. But for me, I think
it’s important as a sober person to share this experience and
how good it can be. Because a lot of people think we just
kind of hide, like you get sober and then you’re just
detached from the rest of the world. And I don’t want people
to think that — that’s not sobriety to me and is certainly
not my experience. I feel more connected with myself and with
others than I ever could have imagined.

For me, it was a complete restart of my life. I’m seeing
things in new ways — I go back to old locations and old
friendships and old relationships and I’m just experiencing
them in entirely new ways. And it’s so refreshing to be able
to be completely present for the people and experiences that
I wasn’t for so long. —Brett

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I got sober two months after my mom died very suddenly. I’ve
dealt with a lot of grief in my sobriety but I haven’t picked
up a drink, and I think it’s because for some weird reason it
feels better walking through it and feeling everything. And
thank god I have this foundation and structure that’s keeping
me afloat. I mean, it saves me. I wish that everyone could
have these tools.

Since I got sober, I also cry all the time, I’m just
completely raw. And when I’m upset, I need a moment to
process my feelings and then I’ll talk about it. Before, it
was like, Fuck you, you’re an asshole, this is over.
Stuff like that. A big part of it is tackling life in a new
way. This is me, this is really who I am to my core. Like,
I’m a good person. And I’m really discovering that.
Personally, I am proud of my sobriety. I think it’s the
biggest accomplishment of my life and maybe the only thing
that I’m really proud of. And I think others shy away from
it, they don’t want people to know. I don’t know, it’s like
their secret. For me though, my sobriety is me. It makes me
who I am. —Katie

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

Before I got sober, I remember thinking that sober people
were boring. I thought sober people didn’t go out, that they
didn’t do anything, and I was honestly weirded out by people
who didn’t drink. I think it’s important for people to know
that just because I’m sober doesn’t mean I’m dead. I go out
dancing, I’m 100% me, I can literally do everything I did
before except I just don’t drink. In sobriety I’ve been
around all this stuff and I think that’s one of the things
people cast a stigma on. We’re not dry, boring people.

One thing I’ve learned is that we are all connected. I have
so much support from my family and the people I’ve met and
I’m not alone in this. This change I decided to make in my
life has made it completely better. It’s not flowers and
sunshine all the time, there are days when I’m like, fuck, I
can’t handle life. Just like the rest of the world. But I
know that I have this support around me that I can go to with
my problems. And again, we’re sober — we’re not dead. We’re
here. There is a whole community of people who support one
another and love one another like a family, unconditionally.
Regardless of who you are, what you look like, what you do,
your skin color. It doesn’t matter. There is a better way to
live. —Sheku

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

It’s like rolling hills for me. I paint this picture where I
got sober and then my life was great. And that’s true,
partially. I did get sober and my life did get better because
it was so low and dark. But that doesn’t mean that it’s
perfect. What it looks like for me is that I now have tools
to be a normal, decent human being, which I wasn’t before. So
sobriety for me is like a bridge back to a normal life. It’s
not my whole life, but it can be a bridge to where I can
reconnect with people in society and I can reconnect with
friends and family and use tools that I’ve learned to engage
with another person. Caring less about yourself and caring
more about helping others. Having some small impact on
someone else’s life.

You can either be open about it or be closed off about it and
keep it to yourself. And that’s what I did when I was
drinking: I’d sit in my room home alone. Even when I was out,
I’d be in the corner by myself just drinking to isolate or
build a wall up.

Maybe what I want to do is keep to myself and hide and not
talk to anyone about it. But that got me nowhere but the
bottom. So then I decided to say, look, there are other
people that are still suffering, so why not just talk about
it? Maybe I’ll yield a different result in the end if I take
different actions. So that’s why I am so vocal about it. I do
it for myself because it helps me feel better and heals me to
share and talk about it. But I also do it in case other
people don’t want to feel alone. Maybe it will remove some
stigma if there is someone in the public eye talking about
how you can recover from alcoholism and how allies can help
their family members recover. You don’t have to do it alone.
Yeah, it’s scary and terrifying and you don’t know what to
expect so you feel alone in the beginning. That’s why it’s
nice to have people who are visible because then you’re like,
If they can do it then maybe I can do it too. —Kyle

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I was very public about my drinking, so why not be public
about the fact that I’m sober and don’t drink? I think that’s
an interesting take on it. In the very beginning I was super
loud about it because I needed to be. Like, if I own it then
you can’t judge me for it. If I own my sobriety then your
judgments on it don’t matter.

I can’t tell you how many messages I got in the beginning
from people who told me how I’ve inspired them to maybe not
get sober but to live their best life. Or telling me that
they’ve had family members who have died from this or are
struggling, and when they see me succeeding with it, it gives
them hope that their family member or friend can succeed.
Because I didn’t see that in my life. And that was really eye
opening. Being sober doesn’t mean your life is over. Many
times when we see posts about sobriety, it’s always famous
people or before-and-afters of people being a mess and then
cleaning up their lives. It’s not like, hey, these are real
people and they just do it every day. It’s not like, hey, I’m
normal and I have to do this the exact same way you would if
you had to do it.

My birthday card from my grandma said, “To someone who shows
up.” First of all, I never would have had a birthday card
before. And second of all, it never would have said that.
When I had my birthday dinner in New York, someone said that
after I got sober, they started to get the best version of
me. Every person has qualities that aren’t great, but now
they get to see me, the best version of me, without all the
extra stuff. I feel like I get to be the friend that I want
to be. I feel like I show up for people now, and it’s huge. I
get to be present. I get to ask how you’re doing today, and
really care about how you’re doing today. I want to be an
example, for everyone. And I just don’t want to let people
down anymore. —Jordan

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I can share my experience as much as I want, but it’s not
normalized. And I think that’s what putting something out in
the media does. It puts it into the public eye and passes a
value judgment on it and says this is good or this is not
good. And most recovery stories are through the lens of
rehab, where you might not get to see the beautiful life that
you find in sobriety. And the fact of the matter is that now
I don’t have the option to run away or not pay attention to
something that’s bothering me. I have to be present and I
have to self-reflect and commit to being a better person for
the people around me. Alcoholism is a disease that affects
relationships, not just the person suffering. It’s about you
learning how to regrow relationships and care for other
people, including yourself.

I realize that I don’t give myself enough credit. I’m five
months sober and I’m also transitioning. I am coming out to
family members and really re-creating myself in the fullest
extent possible. When a person transitions, it’s like
rebirthing a human. You have to find yourself again. And my
relationship with myself has gotten so much deeper, there’s
so much more to me. The fact that I’m still breathing, that
I’m still here… it’s really easy to write off the big
things and focus on the small things. And the more that I
honor the value that I’m bringing to people’s lives, the
easier it is for me to stop making bad decisions. It’s been
very centering and very sobering — that’s the best word I can
use. Sobriety means clarity. Clear mind, level-headed, not

Now that I don’t have substances to cloud my judgment and I’m
seeing myself for who I really am, it’s really disheartening
sometimes. But it’s also very inspiring. Like, look at where
I was and look at where I can go. I know I can do so much
better. I am made for so much more. —Andrea Mares

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I don’t think I even really liked drinking — it just seemed
to make things a lot easier. And it seemed to make things
more fun for awhile. Now when people ask, I tell them that it
just doesn’t suit me… it doesn’t do anything for my
spiritual state, my mental state, or my creative state. It
takes from that and I don’t want to play with fire.

I used to really run on adrenaline, which I still do at
times, but it’s different, and I’m more thoughtful now. I
feel more creative and more myself now. It feels like I can
create more authentically and show parts of myself that no
longer scare me. And that’s a big deal to me. I don’t want to
use my platform to promote sobriety… I want to use my
platform to promote being yourself and being authentic and
doing what feels right for you, regardless of what’s going on
around you. —William

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

I feel like this is who I was meant to be. And I’m finally
becoming that. I spent over a decade knowing that I was
supposed to be someone else but constantly getting further
and further away from that. So for me, the things that have
been difficult like friendships and relationships are
different now that I can stand up for myself and set
boundaries and I know what I want. I never knew what I
wanted, so how would I have known what to ask for? I can walk
away from situations now knowing I am able to express myself
and not wishing I had the strength to have said or done
something. Sometimes I don’t have strength in a moment but I
recognize that if I continue to behave the way I had, then
nothing’s going to change. And I didn’t stop drinking to act
the same way I was when I was drinking.

When I first got sober, I spent the first year finally seeing
myself in a way that I had been completely unaware of. And I
actually felt a huge relief when I realized what my problem
was because I felt like I finally had a solution. The pain
that I felt in the beginning when I knew I had a problem but
didn’t know the solution was so, so bad. And actually, it was
that pain that caused me to be so willing to do anything for

I feel like all of the bad decisions that I’ve made in my
life and the things that I did that just did not align with
who I am, every one of those was me disconnecting from my
soul and walking away from it. So even though the first year
sober was the most painful year of my life, I was able to
breathe again. Every responsibility I took for my life and
every apology I gave helped me to finally feel my soul again.
It’s like I got to remove those pieces. It’s the hardest but
most incredible thing I’ve ever done. —Amy

Brandon O’Dell / BuzzFeed

Prior to getting sober, I was kind of just lost. I didn’t
really know what my purpose was. I knew I wanted to do things
and I would start to do things, but there was never any
follow-through. Because I would start something, get taken
over by the disease, and then abandon it. I was always just
like, What am I doing? I got into the college I wanted
to and then dropped out. I got a job I really wanted and then
I got fired. I got the relationship I wanted, got the
apartment I wanted, I got all of these things that I thought
were going to fix me and make me better and I didn’t know
that I was broken inside, and that’s what I needed to heal.
So when I got sober, it gave me self-esteem, it gave me
worth, it gave me a purpose. I didn’t know that I had so much
potential to help people. At first it was difficult, but now
it’s just become my life.

My biggest fear was that I was going to get sober and all of
my friends and all of my fun would get taken away, because I
saw “fun” as going to a bar, blacking out, and waking up
somewhere else. And today, I look around and see that I’m
actually having fun. So for anyone afraid that they might
lose themselves, I can say that I’ve gotten the opportunity
to find myself. That’s what I would tell someone: I get to be
the best version of myself. I get to take all of that other
stuff out of the equation that keeps me from being me.

For more information about alcoholism or to help a loved
one find options for help, don’t be afraid to talk to a
doctor. They can refer you to local programs and treatment
centers. The following resources might also be

• National Council on Alcoholism and Drug
Dependence (NCADD)

• National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism (NIAAA)

• National Institute on Drug Abuse

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

• DrugFree.org

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