“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
It has been an emotional roller coaster the last few days leading up to this momentous occasion. One year ago I couldn’t imagine what this day would be like, or fathom the person I could become in 365 days. Thankfully I didn’t have to imagine any of that. I just had to stay in the day, at times just in the moment. I had to not drink and I had to do some big work on myself.
What It Was Like
A year ago, I was a broken soul seeking pain and running from pleasure. I’m not talking about the kind of pleasure that two glasses of wine, a donut, or a good-looking man bring you. This is the kind of pleasure and joy that is derived from being loved by the right kind of people or the pleasure of knowing that you’re being a productive, contributing, and stable human being. Nothing overtly bad happened to make me desire sobriety. I was just tired of running. I was tired of making excuses for why I had become the person that I was. Mostly I was tired of not being the person I pretended to be and truly desired to be like.
On Sunday, June 8, 2014 I woke up in Charleston, SC hung-over, scared, and in a raging sea of shame. I made a declaration that I was done drinking. Except, I’d spent two weekends before making that same declaration and had managed to stick with it for about 5 days. “How would this time be different?” I asked myself.
I went to my favorite beach. People were partying at a hotel bar behind me. It was cloudy and I just sat in my chair swimming through all of the emotions in my head. I thought about the first time I got sober. Nearly 17 years before I was 21 years old and had a pretty serious drug problem. I was tired then too. I found a program of recovery and I stayed clean and sober just shy of four years. Then I became a mom and talked myself into relapse. I manipulated myself saying that alcohol was never a problem and I loved being a mom too much to ever be a party girl who used drugs. What I couldn’t see then was that the next twelve years would prove to me that neither alcohol nor drugs were necessary to keep me in my addiction. I became an equal opportunistic addict. I used anger, control, codependency, food, binge TV watching, and men to escape my feelings. Eventually I discovered that I liked alcohol and all bets were off.
While the worst of my drinking may not compare to others, I have always been sensitive to emotional pain and I could see that the couple of years of drinking I had behind me was not getting me any less pain. Instead it kept creating more. I knew that a program of recovery looked like me making some big changes and I was terrified. I also knew that if I didn’t take action immediately by that evening I was going to be drinking again. As I sat on the beach making the decision that I was powerless over alcohol and my life was unmanageable, I texted sober friends and told them my decision. I needed accountability.
What It’s Like Now
The last year has been the most difficult and challenging year while also being the most amazing and rewarding year of my life. I can say with all honesty that I am the woman I always hoped I would be. I practice recovery every day of my life. I am always trying to be a better and more honest, selfless human being. Being with my family is the greatest pleasure I have ever experienced. I’m still working on feeling worthy and deserving of their love. It can be a daily struggle at times to fight that shame but I do it anyway. I am capable of entirely feeling all my feelings and not self-medicating them away. I now have more girlfriends in my life than I ever imagined. They are my sober sisters. I love living in service of others. These days I spend my life working on how to be loving, kind, humble, useful, productive, selfless, accepting, giving, and spiritually fit. They are lessons that I hope to spend the rest of my life learning…one day at a time.