Life has been very busy lately, and I honestly haven’t written in a long time. I forgot how much I missed it. I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know that this past Saturday I celebrated 7 years sober! Holy crap, right?!? 🤪
I felt this was the perfect opportunity to write about, and reflect on, my recovery throughout these last 7 years. My anniversary is the most important day of my year, and not just because I get to celebrate a personal success – but also because it reminds me of how far I have come since those first 24 hours. It gives me an opportunity to thank the people who helped me along the way. I have never had to do this alone, and it is important that I tell you this, because even after years in recovery it can still be difficult at times.
Seven years ago, I didn’t believe I was capable of sobriety. I had tried and failed multiple times, and if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t entirely sure I even wanted to be sober. The idea of living my life without that crutch seemed more terrifying than the very real possibility of dying from my disease.
In all honestly, I got sober because I didn’t want to die – not because I thought it would feel glorious. But here’s the thing, my life started to get better the moment I stopped drinking. It didn’t seem that way at first – especially since I initially woke up in a hospital bed suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. I was sick, dizzy and shaky and I could hardly walk from my bed to the phone to call my daughter. It took a long time to feel physically healthy again, and even longer to feel alert and competent, but day by day, everything slowly started to piece itself back together.
I rebuilt relationships with friends and family. I mended bridges I had burned, and when those bridges couldn’t be mended I learned to make “living amends” by leading a good and honest life instead. I formed new relationships with women whom I now consider my sisters on this journey. I learned how to take care of myself, how to be a good mother, and the importance of forgiveness – for both myself and for others.
I started listening and stopped defending. I started holding myself accountable and stopped playing the victim. I took responsibility for my actions and stopped deflecting blame. I became a student of recovery, and those who came before me were my teachers. They held me up when I could not stand on my own, and taught me how to navigate the consequences of my actions with grace and dignity. I am a better person because I have them in my life.
Sobriety does not mean my life magically got perfect. That is not what I mean when I say life is better sober. What I mean is that any day spent sober is better than any day I spent drunk, and that I have never regretted choosing sobriety. Not once!
Life naturally ebbs and flows, and I had to learn how to balance life’s highs and lows. This past week is a perfect example of this. On Wednesday night my daughter and I were sitting third row at her favorite Broadway show, Hamilton, and the next morning we were driving to Minnesota for my grandma’s funeral. An extreme high followed by an extreme low, and I felt (and survived) both.
Life is so much more profound when you allow yourself to experience feelings – even the most heartbreaking moments provide valuable reminders that we are lucky to be alive.
I have never been shy about my recovery. This is mainly because I care more about helping people than I do about being judged on a personal level. I spent most of my life wearing a mask, and I never truly let people see the real me. And although I may have been liked, or at least felt I was liked, I hated the woman I had become. Recovery has taught me that hating the woman I used to be does nothing to help the woman I am today heal and grow. Recovery has taught me to love myself again, even on those days where I don’t feel lovable.
Today, I have the ability to advocate for myself, because I know where I have been and how far I have come. I know my worth, and I see the value in others. I can be an advocate for those who struggle too, because I have witnessed miracles in my recovery. Miracles!
Recovery is so much more than just not drinking or using drugs – it’s about learning to live a full and honest existence. It’s taught me how to participate in my life again. I am present every moment – the good and the bad. I no longer crave an escape, because I’ve built a life I enjoy living.
Recovery is hard work. I have had to put more effort into my recovery than I did my drinking – which means my recovery never gets a day off. Every morning, before my feet hit the floor, I make a commitment to myself and my higher power to do whatever it takes to stay healthy for another 24 hours. With that one simple task, a beautiful life was created.
What an extraordinary gift I have been given – a second chance at life.
Thank you for letting me share my journey with you. ❤️