Letting Go of the Old

Table of Contents

For those who are alcoholics or addicts, it can be overwhelming to experience the newness of life in recovery. From our daily habits, to how we feel and think, to who we spend time with, to where we spend our time, everything about our lives becomes new. Even the familiar things seem fresher when we experience them from a new, sober perspective. Just waking up sober in recovery is new enough to take some getting used to.

It can be even more overwhelming when we understand the vital necessity of all this unfamiliar, brand-new territory. Our lives in active alcoholism and addiction were not working — in fact, they were killing us. The good things that were in our lives were likely put at risk by our disease. If we’re lucky, we don’t need a new job or new family when we get into recovery, but it’s very likely that we have a lot of rebuilding and relearning to do. 

A New Focus on Friendships

It’s common that most of our friendships revolved around drinking. For many of us, this means we have to make new friends who are also in recovery. We shouldn’t throw away lifelong friendships, of course. But we risk our very lives when we hang out around our old strictly-drinking buddies.

This is a very personal and case-by-case scenario. Though we are all alcoholics or addicts, the details differ greatly from person to person. We may have safe friends who we alienated with our drinking or drug use or other friends we want to rebuild relationships with. The finer points of each decision we make should always be worked out with our sponsor and trusted advisors in the recovery community. Suffice to say, the vast majority of our lives must be remade, relearned, rebuilt, or reshaped in our recovery. Fortunately, this task is not as overwhelming as it sounds. Much of it happens one thing at a time, over time, with consideration and practice.

A New Way of Thinking

For some of us, especially in the beginning, it’s disorienting to wake up and not have a drink. Even our morning routines take a new kind of getting used to. Working the 12-Steps also helps us begin to perceive and think differently. Soon, our own thoughts may seem new to us. This can be disorienting as well until we recall the lives we were living before. Recovery is the gift of a second chance. We are given the chance to live a new life, if even only on the inside. Maybe our jobs, relationships, or hobbies don’t change, but surely we must change our inner environment to remain in recovery and thrive. 

All the newness we experience isn’t a test to overcome, but simply part of the process to get from being ruled by our disease to living in freedom, purpose, and joy. It’s as if we have traveled for a long time in a dark tunnel — when we first see the light at the end of the tunnel, it can hurt our eyes. But as we continue walking toward the light, we see it is the way out. The light is leading us to freedom. But first, we have to leave the comfortable darkness behind and keep our eyes on the light while our vision adjusts.

Goodbye Old, Hello New

In recovery, we must become willing to let go of the old and embrace the new in many areas of our internal and external lives. If we still have our old job, we may have to relearn parts of it or learn new ways to do it. There are many variations on this theme, ranging from where we hang out to how we take care of ourselves. The urging to let all things be new in recovery gives us the chance to finally experience a life beyond our wildest dreams. Of course, sometimes new things can be scary. But if we don’t let new things in, it becomes increasingly possible that we will return to our old, familiar ways. For alcoholics and addicts, our old familiar ways may lead to relapse or death. 

How can we learn to let go of the old and calmly let in the new? It’s probably obvious by now, but working the 12-Steps and adopting the recovery way of life will go far in helping us adjust to all this newness. Working the 12-Step program helps us make peace with the past and gently leave it behind us while teaching us new things to take its place. As we leave behind drugs and alcohol and replace them with our recovery lifestyle, it can be harder to let go of old things without finding newer, better things to fill those spaces. It’s a natural process that is similar to growing up. We lose the previous ways and replace them with things that are more fitting for our new lives.

Our lives in alcoholism and addiction were most likely not the lives that we intended to have. Recovery gives us the opportunity to set that all aside and learn how to live lives that can make us happy, step by step. If we cling to our old ideas and old ways of life, we run the risk of blocking the peace, freedom, and purpose that recovery can bring into our lives.

Most alcoholics and addicts do not destroy themselves and their lives on purpose. They suffer from a disease that is beyond their control and permeates their entire lives. Thankfully, there is a solution found in the 12-Steps of recovery. For this process to be successful, it requires letting go of our old ideas and old ways of living. After all, they did not serve us well as we struggled with addiction. To reap the full benefits of recovery, we must allow new ideas and new ways of living to take their place. From our jobs and routines to friendships and other relationships, the 12-Steps give us the foundation we need to make peace with our past and build an exciting new future. If you are ready and willing to embrace a new life in recovery, Jaywalker Lodge is here to help you make the best start possible. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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