How Ben Stayed Sober During His Divorce

At the end of any relationship, there are always two emotions at play: the feeling of loss and the feeling of anger. One side of you is overwhelmed with the anger, frustration, and resentment you feel for the other person (or yourself), and the other side is mourning the loss of the relationship, whether it was healthy or unhealthy. If you don’t work through these emotions in a healthy way, they can tug and tug at you until you’re stuck in limbo, trying to find a way to just end the feeling and get away from your own grief. 

This is often when unhealthy coping mechanisms come into play. For those that are maintaining their sobriety, divorce (one of the hardest experiences people experience) often prompts them to slip back into drinking or using again. In this post, Ben will share his own experiences in staying sober through his divorce, with some vital advice that preserved his relationships, put his son first, and led him down a happier and healthier path.   

A note from Ben: 

For me, staying sober during my divorce was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through in my 25 years of sobriety (13 at the time). The feelings that divorce brought up were the same feelings I was trying to make go away through drugs and alcohol: fear, loneliness, regret, shame, failure, not being good enough, and the list goes on.

Thankfully, at the time, I had enough of a foundation in sobriety and experience that I could and would get through my divorce with Nikki without drinking or using. Equally as important, I had the tools in my emotional toolbox to handle my divorce in a healthy way. Those tools actually ended up being the foundation for Our Happy Divorce

 Step 1. Admit there is a problem. 

Just like my using and drinking, I had to admit there was a problem. There was a problem with how I was handling my divorce initially, and I knew that if I continued down that path (with harsh divorce attorneys, lack of communication, and an “I have to win this” mentality), I was going to only add to the problem. 

Step 2. Have faith. 

I knew that if I showed up and did the right thing, that Nikki and I were going to be okay and I was going to get through this. Just like every other time in my life, I had to rely on the fact that if I did the right thing, my divorce was going to end up better than I could have ever imagined. 

Step 3. Find your part. 

Whenever I am blaming someone else or have resentment toward that person, if I am honest with myself and willing to take a look at it, I find that I played a significant role in that relationship ending.  After I was willing to do this with my marriage to Nikki, it was clear to me that I played a role. I wasn’t a happy person and it was manifesting itself in my actions in the marriage.

Step 4: Clean up the wreckage of the past. 

We all have the capacity and ability to be happy. That can never happen if we are living in the past or the future. I had to go to Nikki and make amends for the part in the ending of the marriage. She also apologized, and we both sincerely accepted the other’s apology. This enabled us to clean up the past and move forward and do what was best for our son. 

Finding the Support You Need (Even if You Don’t Want to Admit It) 

Another incredibly important part of pulling yourself out of that divide between loss and anger is to have a strong support system. Nikki and I are both very lucky to have a great support system in place. It was crucial to our healing that both of us had people around us who supported us in what we were trying to accomplish. We didn’t have anyone in our lives who tried to feed us poison. 

I also let my support system know that I was struggling to stay sober during my divorce. I have learned through the years that I will never solve problems in my life on my own. When I try to solve the problems in my life without the support and advice from my community, I always make it worse. I always know there is a place I can go anywhere in the world and share my problems and they know exactly what I’m going through and give me the right guidance and support to get through it. Find YOUR community — you’ll need it through all of life’s challenges. 

Keeping Your Perspective 

Another huge part of what helped me stay sober is my son, Asher. Asher was a huge part of my motive and willingness to work on myself. In sobriety, it is key to put that before anything else. I had lost that for a while and the result was destroying my marriage, and I knew if things didn’t change, I was going to end up making his life very difficult. Nikki and I had to find a different way. Don’t lose perspective. Your kids did not choose for you to get married, and they didn’t choose for you to get divorced, protect them in your decisions at all costs. 

Looking back on my life now, I am very proud of my sobriety. It is by far the biggest accomplishment in my life. Staying sober through anything life throws at me reinforces the notion that, no matter what happens to me, I don’t have to ever drink or use again. 

If you have any questions for me or need additional support, please reach out in the comments below or follow Our Happy Divorce on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We are always available to talk through direct messages or email. We are here for you.

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