Well here we are. 12 years sober today and sometimes feeling exactly as unsure and scared as I did That First Year.
I'm going to pause here and STRONGLY recommend reading that last link right there. It tells the story of what happened when I first got sober that so many of you ask me about. It's right there.
Finished? Yeah. When I go back there - as I often do to keep it all fresh and therefore a real threat - I am reminded of the utter fear I had as a newly sober person. Who would I be without booze? (after a while, someone amazingly funny and compassionate and wicked smaht) Would people like me? (verdict is still out) Would I like me? (YES. Today I can say YES I DO) Do I have to go to those stupid fucking meetings for the rest of my life? (You don't HAVE to do anything)
I had hidden from the world and from myself for so long, masked in a hazy fog of my own inebriation and denial that I had no idea how to function as a sober, non-altered human. I hadn't felt human in so long, I couldn't possibly relate to all these, what were they, FEELINGS that were suddenly thrust upon me. So of course I handled it badly.
People think once you get sober that BOOM your life gets better and that's just not the case. It took you a while to get as bad off as you were and it takes a longer while to heal and get that shit out of your system and start behaving as a human thinking being doing again. Don't beat yourself up because you stopped drinking and using and your life still sucks. It probably will for a while. The good news is you get to feel all the crappy feelings associated with taking responsibility for your own shit! YAY.
The lying the cheating the denial, they take a long time to go away. I am proud to say that after 12 years of working hard on my character defects, I've gotten SOME of them under control. I can no longer lie without a gut wrenching reaction and having to come clean almost immediately. It used to be as naturally as breathing, the lying. Today, it feels horribly unnatural - MOST of the time.
The cheating and the stealing, well like Mike Brady would say, "when you cheat and steal from others, you're really cheating and stealing from yourself." I think of those other women I lived with who are no longer with us because this disease killed them and the countless others who are losing their lives every day to this disease. I think of the families and how it rips them to shreds with consequences that last lifetimes. They were cheated and their lives were stolen from them. It is devastating. I get grateful right quick.
I get sad sometimes. I miss drinking sometimes, but I don't miss the consequences and the utter despair. I don't miss the cycle. I get harried and frustrated and complain sometimes. But then I step back or someone steps me back into gratitude. Gratitude is the key. It's really hard to feel sad and resentful when you feel grateful. And christ on a bicycle am I grateful. JUST LOOK AT HOW AWESOME THIS LIFE IS? Everything I have is a gift that I don't deserve and that all stems from just being alive today (and lots of hard work) when 12 years ago I had no desire to continue on.
I was shown some grace. I have no idea why, but I can't dwell on that. I look at my babies and know I am doing something right just by being present. I once was lost, but now am found. I am scared and unsure sometimes, so much so that for just a moment I dream of chucking it all and going back to oblivion. To the darkness because part of me is still more comfortable there. Because that's what we do. But we don't have to. Most of us can make a change. Some poor unfortunates will never see the change.
12 years ago today I had nothing to live for. Today I have everything I could ever want and need and then some. A life I never could have imagined for myself. For all of this, I am so grateful to sobriety. I didn't do this on my own. I had many people helping me and they continue to help me as I continue to help them. This isn't an isolated affair. Recovery is a team sport. Here I am 12 years in and still hoping for just one more day sober. I hope I hope I hope that never goes away. Just for today I choose to stay sober. I hope I make the same choice tomorrow.
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