I have been sober for a month! I don’t know exactly why, but this time around the sobriety bend I have not fixated on how many days I last drank. During my zillion other attempts at getting sober I counted days, hours, minutes (well, maybe not minutes) and I hung onto them hard. This time though seems more life changing rather than an entire focus on getting sober. Kind of like living a healthy lifestyle instead of just dieting, eating only certain food groups and counting calories. Unknowingly I think I stumbled into a lifestyle chage by joining this community and sharing, listening to podcasts and reading, reading, reading. There is not just the goal of getting sober, but of living my life in a different way and I am putting in the work. But of course every day is different with its ups and downs, but today is appearing to be one of these incredibly happy days, so instead of dredging up old hurts and focusing on how hard sobriety is, I’m going to focus on gifts.
Call me an optimist,crazy, delusional, or whatever you want, but these last few weeks have been miracles. Even the tough ones, the sad ones, the OH MY GOD I CAN’T TAKE THIS ones have been lessons that I am finally ready to receive. So I thought it might be helpful to list all the gifts I have been given in just 30 days. Just in case if somebody is struggling and wondering if it’s worth all the effort, all the withdrawals, the loneliness, being uncomfortable, the facing the truth, the mood swings, the woe is me’s, the relationship strains; that in the middle of all of it gifts can come swiftly in sobriety. And what I finally learned is that I not only have to receive them, but I have to be ready to pay attention to them when they show up. Because not all gifts come wrapped in pretty packages, sometimes they come in heart breaking moments. So for what it’s worth here are some gifts I have received in my 30 Days of Sobriety:
• I am more open and communicative with my children. When I look back at it I feel I kept a lot to myself because if I talked too much I’d be worried they would know I was drinking, and when sober I felt they wouldn’t really listen to me, and I didn’t deserve to be listened to because I couldn’t get my own life together, much less give them advice. That is all gone now. I’ve even told my oldest son I have stopped drinking, and I can tell he is very proud of his mama!
• I am more confident. I am not hiding behind a cloak of shame, reliving how much I drank the night before and pretending everything is just peachy. I am moving through my day purposefully (or at least trying to really damn hard). My job performance is improving, and I feel like a rock star at meetings nowadays!
• I have all of this time!!! I wake up early, can take some time for myself to write, read, make my son’s lunch and a decent breakfast. I have time after work to accomplish tasks I’d have put off because I’d spend most evenings drinking.
• I see possibilities instead of being shackled by believing I am worthless and weak. I am writing and expressing myself when before I’d keep all of these things in my mind, and I am feeling worthy of a great life. I’ve perfected my resume, and I’m applying for jobs that resonate with my values, interests and skills. I haven’t gotten a new job yet, but the feeling that I CAN is exhilarating.
• I have learned to be with myself. Before I hated being alone, I hated any deep thinking because that turned into self loathing. Now I enjoy being by myself and working on myself and taking care of myself.
• By learning how to sit with myself I am learning how to sit with others. Before I would be full of anxiety, always doing something to keep from being still and many times I would not focus on the person I was with. I now see that just being with somebody, fully paying attention to somebody is enough. This simple act was one of the biggest gifts I received as I was able to sit and be present with my dying friend who passed away a couple days ago. I would not have been able to have those moments with her the way they were if it were not for my sobriety.
• I am spending time with my sister tonight for the first time since she has come home. I’m praying I can just sit with her too, and just be present. Once again I would not have been able to do this if it wasn’t for sobriety and life lessons. I would have judged her, I would have let all the past hurts float on top of our lifetime. I feel a rebirth, and maybe we can start anew.
• I see all of the hard things that have happened in my life as lessons that I needed to learn. Before I have dipped down deep into the well of sadness, of blaming, and wishing that many things in my life could have been different. I am learning that all of these hard hard things in my life happened for a reason,and I believe they are revealing themselves to me right now, at this moment in my life, and I am grateful for them, because they are making me into the person I am meant to be, and they are leading me to my destiny.
• I see more beauty all around me. I am noticing nature, people, events in a different way. I went for a bike ride last weeknd, and there was a woman sitting on the steps of a church building. In front of her were concrete tablets with the 10 Commandments. It was beautiful, and I could see this meaningful picture of this woman and this church and those commandments.
• I am finally settling into this sober life with my husband. Since I opened up more to him things have gotten better between us, and he is no longer drinking at home! He does have a couple drinks if we got out together, more if we are with our friends, but he is respecting that what I am doing is hard, and he is closer to understanding why I am doing this. It makes me feel loved.
• I am more peaceful, more loving, more open, and connecting more to this earth, to my spiritual beliefs, to my family and friends. And this, by itself, fixes everything else, no matter how tough it gets.
If somebody would have told me just a few weeks ago that all of these gifts would be available in such a short length of time I think I would have fallen down weeping. I remember when I decided to try to get sober again. I remember that first day when I was driving to work with no doubt a hangover thinking, “In 24 hours I won’t feel like this.” And I could not wait for that hungover feeling to go away. That was all I was looking for at first, just that feeling to go away.
There are times when I want a glass of wine, especially when I have to face something hard, or when I feel left out. But what is keeping me from letting it creep back into my life is finding more pleasurable moments in my day, and BELIEVING in all the gifts I have received. The BELIEVING is where it’s at.
Happy Sober Friday!