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Coping with Disappointment in Sobriety

Anyone who says getting clean and sober will make you happy probably didn’t understand exactly what they were saying. In fact, for an addict, stopping the use of drugs and alcohol does not automatically equate to a happy harmonious life. There are circumstances, besides being an addict that led you to use and to escape, and once you stop using you need to learn to deal with the problems of your past and how they influence your decisions today. It can be a frightening journey. All in all though, regardless of how painful it is too look at your past memories, this clean and sober journey of discovery will be amazing.

When you were using you probably used alcohol and drugs to mask your emotions. Maybe you felt you weren’t good enough, you couldn’t get anything right, or that you couldn’t trust anyone. These are typical of any addict, especially those growing up in household where alcohol and/or drugs were rampantly used. So, don’t kick yourself for having these feelings. In sobriety, the goal is to identify this and then learn how to work around it. No, not ignore those feelings, but to accept where and what you are feeling and then step back and really learn how to move through your emotions without them overwhelming you.

So, how does one deal with disappointment in sobriety? It’s complex but completely doable, so fear not. The reason disappointment in sobriety is complex is because there are a subset of other emotions that tag right along with it; hurt, sadness anger, and fear just to name a few. As individual emotions, they are sometimes easier to deal with, but for an addict these subsets of emotions are often times connected.

Sometimes the best thing to do is step back to get perspective of the situation that’s causing this reaction. Feel free to allow yourself the emotions you are feeling. Don’t squash them, but don’t feed into them and let them seep into every aspect of your life. That’s old behavior you did when you were using. You don’t need to do that anymore. Just sitting there with the emotion without trying to move it along or fix it can help you be present and see the situation more clearly.

Once you’ve sat with the emotions, truly feeling it, you’ll see you’ve given yourself or others the space to breathe. If a person disappointed you, and they will from time to time, they might not even know they’ve done so. They could be going through a myriad of complicated emotions of their own. They also might not even be able to give themself the time to sit with their emotions to make things easier. So, having a broader perspective other than just your own allows you to have different perspectives on the situation and what you can do to feel better about it.

For me, the final step in moving through disappointment in sobriety is acceptance. I’ll be honest about this, sometimes I just don’t want to accept things as they are, but I realize there are times I am just powerless to change them. I need to have the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change. My first inclination when I am disappointed in a person or a situation is to look for ways to blame others. It’s an old familiar pattern, a way of continually being a victim of circumstance, and the fact I get to wallow in my disappointment is what I grew up with. I tend to call this space my ‘comfortably uncomfortable life.”

So, how do I find acceptance? Each morning, and I kid you not when I tell you this, I repeat, “I will probably find disappointment in sobriety today. I will either be the person offering the disappointment, or the one receiving disappointment. But, this too shall pass.”

We can all learn to be more present and aware when we accept that disappointment is part of life. However, those parts of life are truly growing points even what we perceive at the time to be negative emotions.

Recovery Rob BIO

Recovery Rob is a 49-year-old man who has been sober since August 23, 1992, whose drugs of choice at one time were alcohol and drugs. Recovery Rob has worked in and around the field of addiction for more than 30 years. Recovery Rob is also the main contributing writer for Pat Moore Detox and has his own website:, where he continues to reach out and help people work through their own addiction and recovery process. In his spare time, he is a professional writer with two published novels and currently working on his third. He has been writing and working as Pat Moore Foundation’s premiere blogger and content writer, which helps keeps Pat Moore Foundation’s addiction and recovery blog top-rated.