Sobriety: Losing everything to be able to do anything

I was reading back over some of my old journals from when I was eighteen and newly sober. I noticed a lot of patterns and repetitive thoughts in each of the entries. The most common theme I noticed was feeling like I had lost everything. I was filled with as much hope for the future as longing for the way things used to be. I beat myself up for not being able to hold it together; for not being able to drink and use like a “normal” person. Which just goes to show the insanity of my situation, because I was drinking nearly every day and contemplating suicide even more than that, so to feel nostalgia for that doesn’t make much sense.

But in hindsight I can understand. That way of life, the way I felt about myself, the way I perceived the world, was all familiar. I could understand it. I knew pretty much what each day would be like and how my relationships would go. I wasn’t happy or fulfilled, but I had some sense of control and safety in the pain and drama.

Finally surrendering and getting into recovery swept my old life away like a tornado through a neighborhood, leaving nothing but the unusable pieces of my old thinking, old friends and old behaviors. This left me feeling lost, confused and terrified. I felt like “the hole in the donut”. Everything I had thought I knew about life and about myself suddenly seemed very uncertain. I felt as if I had lost everything, and I hear newcomers in the meetings and even people who have been around longer share these same thoughts.

What I can say to perhaps comfort or inspire you is that you have only lost a part of your mind and life that was no longer serving you. You haven’t lost everything – you have only lost that which you needed to get rid of to make room for God and a new life that is so good it’s beyond your imagination.

I need to write this perhaps as much as you need to read it. This is a reminder that I need every day, especially at this time in my life. I’m in my early twenties, and my future seems to be this wild expanse of uncertainty. I’m not sure what I want for a career, or where I want to live.

I have had many other times in sobriety after that first one where I have felt like I’ve lost everything and I don’t know where to turn or who I am. As a matter of fact I’ve been going through one for the past six or seven months as I rebuild my life after a big move.

But so far in my sobriety, the one constant that has unfailingly brought me back to serenity and safety each time I’ve wandered off the path is the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 Steps. The meetings. The people in the meetings. My Sponsor. Prayer. Service. My Higher Power. Even when all has seemed dark and confusing, I know I can go to a meeting and say, “Hey, my name is Katherine and I’m an alcoholic”. And all those questions about what I’m meant to do fade away. Because I know that I am meant to not only enjoy this life to the fullest, I am meant to help others and do the will of my Higher Power.

Consider that losing “everything” was perhaps the greatest thing that?s happened to all of us.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

-Chuck Palahniuk

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.