We go through many periods in our lives where we feel trapped, unable to move, kept from making our own decisions, and otherwise enslaved in some perceived emotional prison. It is part of the natural progression of growing up as a child and growing older as an adult. We sometimes experience it in employment, family, friendships, and even close relationships. Some of these scenarios are more acceptable because they are part of the expected growing process towards a future goal, like graduating high school or leaving home. While we were in the former position of those scenarios, it felt like a prison, but when we were finally allowed to break free, we felt a tremendous amount of freedom as we moved into the next phase of our lives.
Some of these scenarios do not feel as acceptable because they are scenarios in which we did not necessarily make a conscious choice to participate in them. Scenarios like, bad friendships, bad working environments, bad financial situations, etc... These all feel like a prison until we are able to break free from them and begin anew. Sometimes we played a more active role than others in getting ourselves into those positions, but once we were there it didn't really matter how we got there, we just knew we needed to break free.
Alcohol is a prison
For most of us, it took quite some time to reach a point of feeling absolutely out of control with our drinking. For some of us, it happened much quicker. No matter how long it took for it to occur, when it did, it was one of the scariest places in which we could find ourselves. It felt like a prison. Is it? What crime did we commit? We can't actually see it when we are held captive in our perceived prisons, but it becomes evidently clear once we get out. The crime we committed is against ourselves. The crime was taking an active part in killing the pure and good person we once were. The crime is in all the actions we take while under the influence that did not allow our true selves to live. Our crime was killing our emotional freedom.
As I said before, the prison of alcohol is a sneaky and tricky monster. It creeps up on us slowly and sometimes over a long period of time. In a way, it's like raising a child. When you live with a child every day you are not as aware of the rate and size of growth that takes place over time because you see them every day. Alcoholism is similar. You cannot measure the rate of the growth of addiction as it slowly increases until the point of taking over your life. One day, you just realize you have a full-grown adult or addiction living with you.
Letting go of addiction can feel like a loss in the truest sense of the word. The addiction acted as a friend and confidant for many years, and we relied on it as much as any person we have ever known in our lives. However, the loss we feel is only a perception because it is actually a choice to feel the loss. Sobriety is not the loss of an addiction, it is the reclamation of our true selves and lives.
What we should feel is freedom
How many ways does sobriety create freedom in our lives? I would say the list is endless and one that each and every one of us should make every day for the rest of our lives. It is a freedom to walk down our paths free from the constraints of alcohol. It is a freedom to enter into relationships without the byproducts that stem from depression. It is a freedom to let go of the constant need of an external chemical depressant that tricked us into thinking it helped us be more ourselves. It is a freedom to live a life on our terms and to make decisions that benefit us and our families rather than our cravings. Sobriety is the ultimate freedom, and it is the loss of absolutely nothing.
Freedom is waking up every day with a clear mind and positive thoughts. Freedom is having the ability to set goals and achieve them. Freedom is true communication between you and the ones you love. Freedom is having the choice to live well. Freedom is living with intention every day. Freedom is being able to get in your car any time of day without consideration of whether or not you should drive. Freedom is truly getting to know your self. Freedom is learning how to love and be loved. Freedom is every memory you create in sobriety that you will remember in the days to come. Freedom, in and of itself, is the biggest benefit of sobriety.
Sobriety is freedom.