Reflecting on Six Years Sober

Holly Jespersen

On June 29, 2017, I marked my sixth year of sobriety. This year, I celebrated while in Kenya on a mission trip with some of my favorite people from my beloved church. I could never have imagined six years ago where my life would be right now. Volunteering in a school in Africa was certainly not my idea of a vacation. Before, a beach was the only destination worth my time. But living a life of sobriety has come with amazing new experiences. Not only have I become more open minded and happier, but my life is now bigger and fuller with incredible people that mean so much to me.

Holly in Africa

Life still has its ups and downs, valleys and peaks, but I live more in the middle these days. I am more balanced in all aspects of my life, and I have the tools to handle it when things are disappointing or do not go my way. A few things that have worked for me include:

  • Prayer and meditation
  • Reaching out to others living in sobriety when I am in my head too much
  • Talking about my feelings and concerns with someone I trust and respect
  • Going for a power walk (being out in nature always helps)
  • Learning how to sit with the uncomfortable feelings because they eventually will pass
  • Getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy
  • Journaling—it feels good to get things down on paper

Early sobriety was very emotional and I was not always terribly stable. I was often needy and had my fair share of dark days. I found I became dependent on a few people and needed their approval, love, and instantaneous attention when I reached out to them. But then I eventually outgrew this through my personal growth work. I slowly learned how to put more faith into my relationships, to have more self-confidence, and to trust in God. This did not happen overnight. I am a firm believer in “progress not perfection.” Today, I know how to be a good friend and not be as needy. For instance, if I send a text or leave a voice mail for a friend, I can go about my day and not wait staring at the phone for a reply. I am more secure in my relationships and, in turn, have better relationships. I have learned how to have real, meaningful friendships and to value quality over quantity when it comes to choosing friends. Some of my friends now are sober and some are “normal” people, but all of them are healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually and they are all inspiring role models. Each of them teaches me how to be a better friend, how to someday be a wife, how to be a good daughter, aunt, etc. Relationships are hard and I have learned that I must put effort into my friendships to sustain and grow them.

Maintaining continuous sobriety for six years takes a huge amount of effort. I treasure my sobriety and work daily to maintain it. It must remain my chief priority, because without my sobriety, I would not have the life I lead now. Today, I am grateful for so many things. I am mostly grateful that I continue to grow and evolve into the woman God intends me to be. I have come to terms with my past and other personal stumbling blocks. I share my experience in hopes that I can help others suffering from the disease of addiction. I am not ashamed of my past or my recovery. I find that being vulnerable and authentic is one of my greatest assets. People reach out to me for advice and come to me to help their family and friends. I treasure people trusting me and asking for help.

Today, I am proud to say that I show up for life—in all its gritty, uncomfortable, joy-filled, tear-filled glory. I show up for my family, my friends, my job, and most of all my recovery. I am an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a worker, a deacon at my church, a member of my community. I am many things today and have a very rich, full life thanks to my recovery and my faith in God. Up until six years ago, I was never truly comfortable with myself. I was always striving to be someone I was not. I was insecure but now I am 100% Holly, a woman who loves fiercely, needs and gives a lot of hugs, sends cards in the mail to her friends down the street, enjoys finding a good bargain at the local thrift shop, is proud of her community, sings along to Broadway show tunes, goes to Bible study at 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday mornings, talks to or sees her mom and dad daily, loves her job, her neighborhood, her little apartment in her hometown, and her life. The best part about sobriety is that it has opened up a colorful world that is beyond my wildest dreams.

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