500 Days Sober!
It feels so amazing!
500 days ago it felt like I HAVE to be sober to save my life, this is so hard.
But today its transformed into, I GET to be sober every day, this is the single best thing that ever happened to me!
What a big, giant, beautiful gift the Universe has given me.
I am so grateful for the circumstances of my life to bring me this opportunity.
Its true that alcohol had one of her nasty claws in me and wine was taking me down. Alcohol was 99% to blame for my mental health issues, depression and anxiety. Alcohol put a wall between me and everyone I loved. For a hot minute (or a few years) I thought I loved alcohol more than anything. I put this love first. It wasn’t really love, but it was dependence.
Alcohol made me physically sick, and it messed with my mind. I couldn’t get rid of it despite the horrible consequences from taking it.
Anyone who has experienced a hangover knows a taste of this pain. I experienced that pain on repeat. It was ugly and it was no way to live my life to the fullest.
As a high functioning drinker, I was functioning with a very low vibe, dragging myself through my days in a fog. Guilt was making me feel bad about my behavior. Shame was worse, making me feel bad about myself as a person. Not only did I feel bad for doing regrettable things (drinking more than I intended), I felt bad because I hated myself (a drinker). I thought I was a regrettable person. I hated doing what I couldn’t stop doing and I hated myself for doing it.
It was hard to get out from the undercurrent of alcohol dependency that had its hold on me.
I have written about the lows. I think we are all captivated by the dark, demonic stories of addiction. We are curiously drawn to learn more about the ugly devil on people’s backs. My own friends are surprised that I no longer crave a drink. I may have neglected to share the very sunshiny, rainbows and unicorns that recovery has been for me. The unicorns and rainbows did not come prancing in on day one, but somehow between now and then, they have arrived.
How can it be?
Allow me to share the bright side that comes with 500 days sober, and why no, I am not an imposter. I do not crave a drink, and I am not living a life of deprivation.
THE LIFE LIVED
I look back on my 500 days with nostalgia, much like my pregnancies. I didn’t love being pregnant (heartburn, weight gain, trouble sleeping) but now I would love to feel that baby inside of me again, if only for a minute. It was such a special time. A time of high growth physically and also emotionally and spiritually. I was on the verge of something new. In the middle of transformation. That is an adrenaline rush in itself for me.
The early days of sobriety were similar. I had to learn new coping skills, trust myself, and deal with intense emotions. I was in a high growth and learning part of my life. Some evenings I had to immediately tuck myself in bed, for fear, I would give into a craving, but I always woke up with pride and wonder. Day after day, I was amazed at my continued effort to show up for myself. I knew I was privately working toward something amazing and that fueled my sobriety quest every day.
What if I could get free from the chains of alcohol? How would my relationships improve? What if I stopped ignoring me and actually listened to myself? What if, in this lifetime, I could really become all that I am meant to be? What if I could stop hating myself and learn to love?
That was my motivation and I continue to wake up to LIVE my LIFE everyday. Not merely survive. Not only tolerate. Not just get by until wine o’clock. Not just hold on until Friday came week after week. I wake up to live every single day. That, my friends is the single best benefit of sobriety.
I am not a LIFE LEFT UNLIVED.
My greatest fear in my drinking days, was that I would die from drinking, never having become who I really was and who I was meant to be.
THE EDGE IS OFF
The peace and contentment that comes with the absence of needing a substance to feel this way is priceless. No jitters or twitchiness. No watching the clock wondering if it's time to pour a drink and take the edge off yet. No counting the drinks to make sure there is enough
(newsflash, never enough).
The obsession with getting drinks, drinking and curing a hangover is gone. The energy that goes into thinking about drinking was as exhausting as the actually drinking. Now, I don’t need a drink to calm social anxiety. Or my “what am I going to do tonight? How can I settle myself?” anxiety.
I let myself feel awkward for the first few minutes of any gathering or any evening because that is how it is and that is ok.
I don’t wait until 5 pm to take a breath and relax with a glass of wine. I take a deep breath and relax my shoulders anytime I feel the need to exhale with intention.
I allow, I let be. I don’t try to control every single thing in my environment and then gulp wine when it doesn’t go my way. I don’t pray for things to be perfect and hate myself when they are not. I just pray for the breath and the strength to handle whatever comes my way with as much grace and ease as possible.
I am Zen and Zen is me. It's such a better way to go through life. I feel like I am riding a unicorn over a rainbow just being at ease with myself. Its that good.
I let myself enjoy the pleasure of living instead of watching it from afar and criticizing why it is not good enough and why i am not good enough. Instead of watching the river flow, and thinking its flowing wrong, I take off my clothes and skinny dip in the cool water of exactly what is and I let myself enjoy it! I am freer than I have ever been.
MY SHIT IS TOGETHER
Practicing self control over drinking has spilled into other areas of my life. Pun intended. I set myself up for success. Doing dishes and laundry on a Friday night instead of seeing a band may not sound like a good time. But having my house in order makes me so happy. I enjoy the hum of the dishwasher and thump of the dryer going. It's the soundtrack of my kids lives, and it makes our house a home that I am proud of. I love a clean kitchen, I really do. I splurge on dish soap with essential oils for a meditative, aromatic experience when washing.
An early bedtime on Friday night leads to a powerful run on Saturday morning and freedom for the rest of the day to do whatever I enjoy, totally stress free. Saying no to an average event on Friday leads me to saying yes to everything I desire on Saturday and Sunday. Running errands, exercising, working, and living an actual adult life feels good. Not delaying and avoiding things has been a game changer. I say yes to more when I say no to some. I have happiness and peace of mind. When I was drinking I was always behind on life. Anxiety would wind me up in a panic and I would avoid more projects that turned into bigger projects the longer I ignored. I was so angry all the time because of my responsibilities. I didn’t enjoy them, I resented them. So although its not rockstar to have chores and a job, it feels wonderful to manage these pieces of my life without the drama.
It has been said that the opposite of addiction is connection and I very much get that. When I was drinking, I was so full of shame. I could not even look cashier’s in the eye while they rang up my bottle of wine. Even when I wasn’t buying wine, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye because I was hungover and I was afraid they would know. I assumed they could tell and hated me like I hated myself. I could not look at myself in the mirror, so therefore I could not look at you. I could not really connect with my best friends, my husband, my mother, my children. I didn’t want to be seen. I wanted to hide. I wanted to bury myself. I wanted to be a turtle and crawl into my shell.
At first when I quit, it felt so raw to be exposed, but after 500 days I have gotten comfortable in my skin. I can look at you and I can look at myself. I can see me. I can let you see me too. I am able to spread love and joy everywhere I go. Even to the cashiers. My relationship with myself and with my family has improved, but the delightful surprise is that my relationship with the whole world has improved. I have something to give, not just take. I can actually listen to others because I am not so full of anxiety about myself. I am able to show compassion because I know we all have a story beyond what meets the eye, and this compassion has made the experience of being human that much better for me.
I’ve saved a minimum of $7,500 in 500 days, and I was just a cheap wine drinker. Its like someone is PAYING me to invest in myself. I look and feel better and I am richer because of it. Its almost too good to be true.
So at first, yes it was hard not to drink. It was a struggle. Getting free was a fight. But now, at 500 days it is not. I do not desire to drink at all. That grip that alcohol had on me is gone. Even though I am making a career out of sobriety, I really don’t think about drinking myself very often. I have energy and focus to think about other things. Running a ½ marathon, taking off on an all inclusive SOBER beach vacay, planning my bucket list trip to Africa to bring school supplies to the children there, creating my very own business, helping others get free, raising teenage daughters with confidence, and more. Drinking was such a time suck, a mind suck, and I am so happy to be free.
Rainbows and unicorns kinda happy.