An Immediate Victory to Recovery: Showing Up

Showing Up

On account of my drinking, I have missed out on a lot. I had to be taken home early from my sister-in-law’s wedding because I was annihilated. I was too hungover to go to my niece’s dance recital. I missed countless days of work due to raging hangovers or because I was still drunk from the previous night.

I would also intentionally not go to events that didn’t include alcohol and scoff at the invitation. “What do you mean there won’t be booze?” So I either didn’t go, or snuck in my own, secret stash. 

Many of us with a history of addiction have missed something because of our substance use struggles: events, milestones, moments, holidays, opportunities, responsibilities, work, etc. Not only have we missed things for ourselves, but in missing things, we have let others down. 

Aside from missing dates on the calendar, I’ve heard stories of people not being able to show up in an emergency because they were too drunk to drive, incapacitated by a hangover, passed out, or simply unwilling to leave the bar. These kinds of circumstances have also led parents to be emotionally negligent or unavailable for their children. 

Missing things and not being present when we are expected (or needed) typically brings up feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. But what’s worse is that by being unavailable or not showing up, we break people’s trust, rendering us unreliable. So the next time we may not get that invite, or that call in an emergency, or we lose that job or miss the baby’s first steps. 

But one of the immediate benefits of getting sober is that we get to show up — either again or for the first time. When life no longer revolves around substances, we get to be present and no longer have to miss out on the big or little things. That’s not only a service we provide our loved ones, friends, children, and employers, but it’s a huge relief for us — and a gift. 

There’s often an element of drama involved when we are caught up in our substance use and skirting obligations, calling in sick, lying, scheming, or making excuses for our absence. Drama can be mentally taxing, particularly when consequences are involved. So, it’s a huge relief to be free of that madness. And once that element is removed from our lives, life tends to get a whole lot simpler and easier. 

It’s a huge victory to show up for something, even when it’s dreaded. Even when I really didn’t want to go to something, I have yet to regret showing up for anything since getting sober. Also, showing up provides an opportunity to earn back any trust that may have been lost with an absence and it demonstrates that I actually care.

We also get to show up for everyday life for ourselves. I certainly didn’t have any real appreciation for little things like a sunset, a nice cup of coffee, or tranquil morning silence because I was always preoccupied with my addiction or hungover. Now when I am witness to something beautiful, I have a deep appreciation for it, which is something I didn’t have when I was actively using.

It’s impossible to be intoxicated and present at the same time. Sobriety requires us to be present, which can take a little getting used to. However, when we are present, we get to show up. And when we show up, we don’t have to miss out anymore.


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