Then & Now: Sober Anniversary
The last time I drank was 11 years ago.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Dare to Be
It's really, really odd to be sitting here knowing that on this day last year I drank for the last time. That a year ago tonight I opened bottles of wine and smoked and drank and crushed myself with abandon.
I got wasted.
I don't even recognize that woman anymore.
I don't miss drinking. Not a bit. Not a drop. No just one more or full glass could possibly compare to the year I've had.
It seems like getting sober took the longest three months of my life. That never ending five o'clock that tortured me over and over until I just had to go to bed or go crazy. The days that lasted forever and ever and ever and ever. I picture myself, standing in the kitchen hands open at my sides lost and confused. "What do I do if I'm not having wine now?" And then the deafening silence of not knowing.
Somehow I learned to listen to the quiet. I wanted to be sober more than I wanted to drink. I wanted the pain of being sober more than I wanted the pain of where I was. I wanted to suffer so I could shine. I decided I was brave enough and strong enough and even though I felt worthless I was worth the struggle of making it please stop.
The weight of the voice in my head that let me drink and then beat me up all day just got too heavy for me to carry. I just couldn't anymore. I got sober.
I learned to be sober. Because after you get sober you have to be sober.
I don't know about how typical I am or not. People look at me like I have two heads when I say I quit forever with the ease that someone might say "I like donuts" or "Tomorrow is Saturday." But wait! I want to say- hold UP. You can't see me from about 1986 to December 7th 2012. You weren't in the kitchen when I was dying inside.
I am very very very passionate about my sobriety. I work hard at it. Very hard. I am honest about it. I reach out when I want to hide because I know that I need to. I make plans when I want to stay home. I speak up in my recovery group when my heart is racing and I feel like I should be quiet, that no one is interested. I tell people the truth about me and I don't let them dictate whether I like me anyway. I believe in myself. I am proud of myself. I am smart, and brave, and awesome. I make sure that when that pipe-y little voice pipes up to say "You aren't any of that." I say "Yes I am. YES. I. AM."
Because I dare to be.
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Because after you get sober you have to be sober.
It’s funny to remember the first days of my sobriety- I can picture myself clear as day hustling the boys upstairs immediately after dinner so we could lounge around on our king sized bed until bath time. That bed was my life raft, it was my safest safe place in the day-to-day tossing sea because I knew if I got to that bed I was going to make it through the day without drinking. God, those days- the boys were four and just turned eight. So little.
They loved that time I like to tell myself- that time in our lives when we played hundreds of games of Crazy 8’s and read the same favorite books hundreds of times and lolled about on that big big bed, the three of us huddled together saving my life while their dad was waiting tables at night because we hadn’t figured out what was next.
I’m at one of those points in my recovery right now that is a porcupine part. It’s been a while since I have been in this kind of place, years I think. The porcupine part is when you feel exposed and you wake up in the middle of the night at the mercy of your own brain and you want to run but choose to stay because you might lose all your quills.
I was more stressed out last week than I can remember being in a very long time- my soul choked up a huge hairball right in the middle of the floor. Now I can see it’s been caught in my throat for years, the complex pattern of behaviors that keep me from taking up space and needing things, the behaviors that default to apologizing and agreeing because if I have needs and boundaries you’ll probably either ridicule them or leave.
This was true eleven years ago, even more years ago than that, and it is still here, this survival mechanism I made for myself decades ago with the tools of a child.
In a way I was stronger back in December 2013 than I am now. Better. I had the backbone the first year of sobriety gives you- it is powerful, there is nothing else like it. What I couldn’t do then though is hold the magic of myself and the fear of my shame with compassion at the same time, walk myself across my life and understanding if I spill. I have gotten so good at it, I am so so proud of it, and still so much to go. It’s the same and it’s different- it’s easier for me to get right to the truth now. It’s impossible to drive by the fender bender again without looking. Without stopping. You have to know what’s next. That’s nice. Sometimes awful.
When I think of that me- the me of 2012, my heart aches for her. She was so hopeful and so afraid. If I could go back there I imagine gently pulling her close, tenderly holding her dear freckled face in my older now hands, looking straight into her beautiful blue eyes, telling her what she doesn’t know.
We’ve made it Amy, eleven years now. We are making it.
I think she would believe me.
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