Focusing Outward in Long-Term Sobriety

This summer has been pleasantly rejuvenating for me, for the most part. Aside from my emotional breakdown in June after I broke up—and then got back together with—my boyfriend, I’ve had a really good chance to take a step back and focus on self-care following the semester from hell this past spring.

Despite having my work hours cut by 20%, and despite the A/C in my car going on the fritz, this summer has been just what I needed: enough intellectual stimulation from my Psychopathology & Human Sexuality Courses to keep me interested and engaged, but low-key enough to give me the space to decompress from Spring and emotionally prepare myself for the Fall semester.

This Fall semester will be especially intense, as I’m beginning my Counseling Practicum/Internship at the end of August. I’ll be a member of the mental health team at a local co-occurring disorders clinic, with a focus on addictions treatment. Seems fitting that shortly after reaching my 1-year sobriety milestone, I’d be able to apply both my personal and educational knowledge to helping others who need support in fighting the addiction beast.

More than that, I’m just really excited to finally—FINALLY—be at the point in my program where I can start getting some real-life clinical experience. No doubt, completing my first year of internships at an addictions treatment center is going to be like baptism by fire, but I feel emotionally, mentally and intellectually ready for the challenge. I’m ready to be faced with the hope, joy, anger, frustration, sadness, and complexity of the human condition. This is something that 18-year-old me would have dreamt of, that 23-year-old me would have never thought possible, and that now-28-year-old me is finally doing, despite every fear and anxiety I have about the process.

Back in May during my 1-week intensive in New Hampshire, I had a few different classmates tell me that they were surprised to learn that I’d never done any counseling before, and that I had zero hands-on experience working in a counselor-type position. At the intensive previous to that, a classmate (who is also a priest from Nigeria, who had previously worked at the Vatican) told me that looking at my face had healing powers. A good friend of mine has said that my voice alone will make me a successful counselor, and that I should consider making a “Bedtime Stories with Em” podcast because my voice is soothing. One of my best friends, who is 5+ years sober and who has helped me tremendously through several difficult life events, told me that she loves when “counselor Em” comes out in conversation.

I don’t want to sound too prideful or full of myself as I write these things, but they’re small reminders to me that there are others out there who see my potential in my chosen vocation, which is hugely important to me considering I have no formal experience as a counselor. It certainly reinforces my thinking that I don’t want to be stuck behind a computer doing faceless work for the rest of my life, even if it means making a little less money or dealing with bureaucratic red-tape or having my heart broken time and time again.

It also goes along with my new focus in my sobriety. As I’ve entered the beginning stages of “long-term” sobriety, and as I’ve done a shit ton of personal reflection and growth in my first year, I want to start focusing the energy and growth of my recovery outward toward building community, helping others and trying to make the world a slightly better place, even if it’s only within the confines of my little corner of the earth. That’s the whole reason I was so drawn to this profession in the first place: having a positive impact on myself, and a positive impact on others. I know I can’t be happy sitting at a desk cranking out work that doesn’t do jack shit for anyone except the people at the top, and while I respect people who find their happiness there, it’s just not for me. I crave that human connection that is so lacking in desk-job environments. I’m tired of looking at the value of what I do purely in terms of how much money it’s going to make for the company.

So, in this second year of sobriety, I am going to start dedicating more of my mental energy toward creating a better space for myself and others to live in. I’m going to try my hardest at my internship, learning from my failures and drawing strength from my successes. I’m halfway through my training program and these next 1.5 years are going to fly by; I’m going to make the best of it that I can, while I’ve got the support and resources available to me.

❤ Day 379

5 thoughts on “Focusing Outward in Long-Term Sobriety

  1. Lily 🌷 says:

    You inspire me with your thoughtful Insightful reflections. Really, you do. I am almost twice your age and it has taken me all this time to get sober. You have made SO much progress and write so honestly about your experiences. You are going to do SO well, and I look forward to reading about it. With much love Lily 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

    • okayishness blog says:

      Thank you, Lily! I’ve been reading your recent posts and I’ve seen such a big transformation in you even over the past few weeks, it’s inspiring to me to read. My thoughts are with you as you move forward with the big beautiful life ahead of you. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading ❤

      Like

      • Lily 🌷 says:

        Thank you. I write because I need to get it out, and I know so many sober people have had similar experiences. I don’t know anyone IRL except my sober sister who doesn’t drink at all, although I know many with a good “off” switch … so blogging and chatting to sober folk helps 🌷x

        Like

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