6 Ways the Second Year of Sobriety is Different from the First Year
If your first year of sobriety was anything like mine, it was a whirlwind of excitement and new experiences – both good and bad. Honestly, my first year was a blur. I was definitely riding the pink cloud for most of it.
They say everyone’s journey is their own – and I totally agree. However, from my experience in sobriety and from conversations I’ve had with other women in recovery, who have more time than me, it seems that there are certain benchmarks we reach that are marked with similar experiences and feelings.
#1. It’s awkward!
The first year, like I said, was a blur. I was happier than I had ever been, and I think my approach was just, “OK, this is how things are now.” But without much thought or introspection. My second year so far, is wayyyy more about self-awareness and soul-searching. Everything I thought I knew about myself and life has been uprooted and I feel like a teenager going through my ‘awkward phase’ again. I call it ‘growing pains.’
#2. It’s more emotional than the first year
They say the first year is about physical health, the second year is about emotional growth and the third year is about spiritual growth. So far, this seems to be true for me. The first year, I started feeling good – both physically and mentally (not yet emotionally). However, I was still quite numb when it came to feeling my feelings. Now that year two is well underway, I’ve noticed that things can really hit me right in the feels. This is probably why the second year seems so awkward, as mentioned above. Leaning on your sponsor and other sober supports, as well as making sure to talk about it will help you out with feeling emotions again.
#3. It’s as difficult as the first year (but for different reasons)
They say getting clean is easy; staying clean is the hard part. This also seems to be pretty accurate, from my personal experience. Year one seemed to pass on by pretty quickly but, year two is at a steady crawl. If you’ve done the work, you should have a pretty strong program at this point. I mention this because of two things: one, people will have certain expectations of you and two, you will have certain expectations of yourself, and life, in general. As for the first part: you’ll have to learn and remind yourself that you have no control over what other people think or how they feel. As for the second part, it’s important to manage expectations.
You will be expected as well as expect yourself to be able to handle life on life’s terms. And you will have to cultivate the faith that you can. At year 2 of sobriety, you no longer have the excuse that you are newly sober, you have a little bit of time and experience now and need to really deal with things as an adult. Now is the time to really start reaching out to others and helping your fellow alcoholic or addict.
#4. You may feel bored and stagnant
Being sober is actually amazing and way better than what life was like before, in active addiction. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything but, sometimes you boredom with strike and you’ll also start to feel stagnant in your life and your program. When this happens, re-commit to your program by re-doing your steps, picking up an H&I commitment, doing other service work, switching up your meetings as well as venturing out and trying new things, like passions or hobbies – not everything has to be program-related. In sobriety, we are constantly growing and changing. There’s a saying, if you stop growing that means you’re dead. You’ve got to keep moving, stretching, and branching out. Sobriety isn’t about settling; it’s about living a life beyond your wildest dreams.
#5. You’re very busy
OK, so it’s kind of weird but, even though you’ll have a tendency of being bored your second year of sobriety, you’ll also be super busy. As you acclimate to your new, sober lifestyle, you will begin doing more and more socially, job-wise, and program-wise. You’ll probably be sponsoring several other women as well as balancing work and home life, your hobbies/passions, and so on. Getting yourself into somewhat of a routine will help. After all, we thrive with at least some structure (even though we were once used to chaos). Make sure you find a way to balance all of it out the best you can.
#6. You no longer care for drama (and you experience less of your own, too)
Perhaps because using alcohol and other drugs can suspend our emotional growth and maturity to the age at which we started using, we have (or, I should say had) a tendency toward immaturity such as gossip and drama. In the second year of sobriety, however, all of that begins to change. You go to meetings because you genuinely want to be there for your recovery. It becomes less and less appealing to gossip about others and worry about the drama that goes on with other people. You start to see that some meetings are just cliquey and an excuse to socialize. For me, I never thought I’d be one to go to all-women meetings but, here it is, my second year of sobriety and all-women’s meetings are my meeting of preference.
The bottom line is this: if you really want recovery and are willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober, you should have no problem surviving the 2nd year of sobriety. It may be tough, but it is absolutely worth it. If you are struggling with staying sober and are in need of a helping hand, call toll-free 1-800-777-9588. Addiction Specialists are available around the clock to take your call. You are not alone.