Let’s be real: going through rehab is one of the toughest, grittiest and most physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging things anyone can do. And we’ve done it. And it sucked, didn’t it? But getting sober was, for me, the best thing that could have ever happened. It was worth the struggle. It was worth the crying, the fits, the fighting (and I fought it, tooth-and-nail, I fought it), the screaming, even the horrible withdrawal…I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Well, maybe. If I was feeling particularly vindictive. But I am trying to work on letting those types of feelings go (ha).

Yet between the booze and the cocaine and the pills, there are months I don’t remember. Months. To my deepest chagrin, I don’t remember my family Christmas three years ago – how I got to my parents’, where I slept, who I talked to, what I got under the tree…none of it. That was stage one of my rock bottom. Stage two happened when my family staged an intervention a few days after New Year’s Day, when they found me passed out and twitching, my face in the kitty litter box in the mud room, smeared with…well, you know. I had gone out the night before with some old high school friends, apparently. Again, I remember nothing.

Not remembering is for me the scariest thing. After I cleaned up (two and a half years sober now, woo hoo!), I vowed I would try to remember everything. Or if not everything, well, a lot. I want my memories to stick. And because of that, I’ve been a keen observer for the past couple of years. I’ve been noticing things, things you can’t really appreciate until you’ve gone through what I went through, what we’ve all been through, and then got sober. Some of these you’ll agree with, some will hopefully make you laugh and some of them will probably make you want to smack me. But that’s okay! I (and my entire immediate family) can totally understand that sentiment.

When Women are Uninterested, You Can Tell

Here’s something I didn’t realize because I had my whiskey goggles on or I was high as a kite and didn’t care: women have way of expressing their disinterest without having to actually say “Leave me the hell alone.” And the sooner you catch on, the nicer they are about it and everyone can just move in a different direction, no big deal. When I was a belligerent, drunken fool, I ignored these subtle hints (constantly looking for someone else to talk to, turning down all offers for another drink, wearing a bored/pitying/annoyed expression) and thought every woman wanted to be on this. As it turns out, they didn’t, by a large margin and I disrespected a lot of people because I was too stupidly drunk to realize it.

Food Tastes a Lot Better

I thank God for this one every single day. I love food, in all its forms. And I never realized until I was sober for about six months to a year that I while I was dulling my brain I was also dulling my taste buds, which might be my favorite body part now.

My Wallet is Fatter

Crazy, but not consuming a fifth of whiskey or a case of beer a day, plus an eighth of cocaine a few times a week and marijuana occasionally…saves money: a lot of it. I feel like those people who quit smoking (a habit I, strangely, never picked up) and after a year they can afford a Hawaiian vacation. I could have probably bought a Hawaiian island by now with what I’ve saved. Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration, but not by much.

Relationships are Quieter

I’ve dated two women since rehab and I noticed something interesting: our relationships involve a good deal less shouting at each other, slamming doors in each other’s faces and loud wailing/sobbing. I was with three women in rapid succession in the few years that led up to my stay in rehab and whether or not they liked to drink and take a bit of cocaine, when we fought (which was often) it was all-out war, every single time. Just my own irrational temper was enough to ignite monstrous arguments with otherwise calm and rational women. Now that I’ve been seeing a wonderful therapist and don’t have mind-altering substances blowing my every thought and emotion out of proportion, it’s a lot easier to handle disagreements in a reasonable fashion:  like a normal, healthy adult.

Cat Litter Boxes Make Poor Pillows

This one is probably self-explanatory, but in case you missed the memo, they are uncomfortable and not meant for sleeping human heads. I have since invested in a nice Tempur-Pedic pillow that does not leave me smelling like cat urine in the morning.

The point of this is that getting sober was not only a benefit to my physical, emotional and mental well-being, but also, I feel as though I’m actually better suited to be in social atmospheres. That’s not to say that recovering addicts should head out to a bar as a social experiment, but keeping your eyes peeled and taking in life around you when you’re sober is a lot more interesting than you’d think.