In our monthly question, we look at fear. Our listeners are particularly concerned with the fear of relapse, of what others think of them, and fear of leaving a relationship in order to stay sober.
Listen to the episode now:
Ironically, most people are scared to talk about their fears.
From a fear of not being good enough to dreading having to navigate social situations sober, we’re all dealing with insecurities and fear.
Those deep fears we carry are very personal and we often carry a lot of shame with them. We don’t want anyone to know they’re there.
“My whole early sobriety journey was spent with me thinking I think I’m going to be frightened of this or that.” – Chip Somers
In this episode, we’re answering listeners questions about fear of relapse, of what others think of them, and fear of leaving a relationship in order to stay sober.
The thing about fear is that we’re never going to be free from it. We have to learn to manage it.
Life is difficult and we have to be careful that we don’t let the fear of the future ruin the present.
I hope this episode helps you to reframe your perspective on your fears and that you’ll be motivated to do the work to build a strong foundation for your sobriety, in spite of your fear.
If you’d like your questions answered on the podcast, be sure to join us in Soberful Life where you’ll receive the support you need on your sobriety journey.
Enjoy the episode!
Fear of failure
My biggest fear about sobriety is relapsing and not making it back. I know I can choose whether or not I drink. I also know that if I drink, anything after that is out of my control.
Having a fear of relapse is extremely common. What will your family and friends think? What if you tell people and then let them down?
People get sober for a lot of reasons, most of which usually involve really difficult, unhealthy situations. So once you get sober, it’s natural for the people around you to become hopeful for a better future.
Seeing that hope can be frightening because it reinforces the weight of responsibility we feel.
The concept of going back to day one that features in the 12-step fellowships just reinforces the fear of failure. There’s so much judgement and shame and a terrible way to respond to a difficult situation.
Instead, I encourage you to think about yourself as a person in long-term recovery. In long-term recovery there might be a relapse but it’s not failure, it’s feedback. It’s a signal to look deeper and learn a lesson.
“Fear can be motivating if we can get past the paralysis of it.”- Veronica Valli
There’s also something to be said about using your fear as leverage.
The same fear that you’re feeling can motivate you to do everything you can possibly do to make your sobriety really solid.
I promise, after a while in recovery, you’ll find that fear actually goes away.
Fear of living with a mental health condition
I fear not finding a way to live with my mental health condition and it continuing to control my life.
I related to this very strongly in my 20s. My life was ruled by panic attacks. In the back of my mind I was always worrying about when the next panic attack would show up. Eventually, I stopped doing so many things out of the fear that I would have a panic attack.
In our experience, most people’s mental health improves massively by not drinking. Also, if you’ve been given medication, the worst thing you can do is drink on top of it.
It’s important to recognize that alcohol is not going to improve any mental health condition and it’s so much easier to get help with any kind of mental health issue if you’re sober and engaged in the process.
Fear of leaving a relationship to stay sober
Is sobriety more attainable when you’re in a relationship or single? Is staying in a complicated relationship actually worth it? Or is it better to break up and move on for the sake of protecting your blossoming sobriety?
This is a very individual, case-by-case situation.
Getting sober is a dramatic change in any kind of relationship. And how your loved ones respond is going to be incredibly instrumental in how you do or do not enjoy your sobriety.
“If your sobriety is bringing up endless challenges at home, that’s extremely difficult to navigate, especially in early sobriety.” – Chip Somers
Alcohol can paper over a lot of cracks in a relationship. And now that you’re sober, there might be things that you can’t unsee about the relationship.
Leaving a relationship is a big thing and it’s frightening. It brings up the fear that maybe if you leave, you’ll never find someone else.
That fear makes you believe you should probably just settle for this but it’s not realistic. I’ve never seen that to be true.
You have to ask yourself, is your partner supportive of your sobriety or are they sabotaging it? It’s a very difficult spot to be in but you have to focus on your sobriety first.
Fear of relapse
I’m 11 months in and going strong, well done. I try not to dwell on relapse, but I’m a binge blackout drinker and for me it was down to life or death. As I look back, it scares me how close to death I came and the true danger I put myself in. I’m terrified of it. What are the warning signs to watch out for? I feel great and can’t imagine turning to drink but it’s the “what if” for me.
Hardly anyone gets sober the first time they’ve ever thought about giving up drinking.
Most of us have a history of failure. Of trying things and giving up, especially around drinking.
When we come in with that long history of failing at sobriety, we start to think that’s how it’s always going to be. But its not.
The secret to sobriety is consistency.
I still, at 22 years of sobriety, consistently do things that support my mental and emotional health.
There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve stopped doing that in my sobriety and because I had enough in my sobriety bank, I didn’t want to drink but I really wasn’t happy. That was a warning sign for me.
When I saw that I got back on it and within about three weeks, I felt much better.
You need to keep investing in the sobriety bank because all of us will have times in our life where something happens or we get a bit complacent. If we’ve got enough in the sobriety bank, it will carry us through to a certain extent. Thats the power of consistency.
Outside of that, the biggest the biggest red flag I’ve seen is when people leave sober communities. Whether it’s AA or Soberful Life, having a sober community is pivotal. The second biggest red flag is when you stop doing things that support your mental and emotional health.
Those are the things that we continue to do even decades down the road.
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