I was a mean drunk. Sassy. Lippy. Rude. I would say things to hurt people because I was hurting. I hated myself. I hated that I needed to numb myself just to feel pretty, funny, liked, and smart.
Alcohol promised me all of these things— but alcohol is a LIAR.
I am now four years sober. Four years since my husband found me in bed, in my pajamas alone, drinking whiskey out of a coffee mug one dark morning. Four years since I decided to stop running from myself, and face myself and all the tangled knots inside.
When I first got sober, I was told AA was the only way to stay clean. The first three years I plunged into it head first. After getting out of rehab — I needed the structure and tools. I clung to my sponsor, worked the 12 steps, attended meetings and spoke to others about it often. I even began advocating for and writing about it on my blog and in a local newspaper.
Over time, I slowly began to trust myself. I was no longer afraid to attend parties or feel emotions like sadness or loneliness. I walked through pain and came out the other side —Sober. Stronger. Clearer.
I worked with a great therapist and learned a lot. I figured out what boundaries were and how to set them. I started caring for myself in ways I never thought I could or knew how to before. I looked at my childhood. I began some inner work. I started healing parts of me that I didn’t know were wounded.
I began practicing yoga. I hated sitting still, especially with myself, and yoga has taught me to do just that. I have learned to appreciate the uncomfortable poses, breathing and pausing— because I need it. I need the quiet.
I became a mother, to two girls. They have never smelled alcohol on my breath. They have witnessed me upset, they have heard me say things I wish I didn’t, they have watched me wake annoyed and tired, and have spent their entire lives living with an imperfect mother— but never due to alcohol or drugs. Just due to being human.
This time last year I realized something. I was condemning myself for not doing all the things I thought I was “suppose to” do to stay sober. I wasn’t reading sober literature. I wasn’t attending meetings. I wasn’t sponsoring other alcoholics. And then it happened— while I no longer feared losing my sobriety, I feared what I was taught in AA, that I would lose the life I had worked so hard to create by not doing these things. I began feeling not good enough. I felt like I was failing. Not measuring up. Not checking off all those boxes I had learned to check off in the beginning. They served me before, were a life saving necessity early on. But now? Was I a sober fraud?
It occurred to me that this was just one more form of self abuse. Of self sabotage. Of living an honest life, but beating away at myself in the process. Of striving for some fictitious perfection. Of not allowing myself to truly feel at peace, or happy. Of living in a self induced state of fear. It’s addicting, in it of itself.
But sobriety promised me a life free of fear… what an oxymoron.
I’ve released that fear. I know I am not failing, and the expectations or opinions of others about my sobriety isn’t my burden to carry anymore, nor is it healthy for me to compare my recovery to anyone else’s. I have to run my own race. And that race is a marathon, not a sprint. It has hills and valleys, bumps and pot holes.
Some believe addiction is a disease. Others believe it isn’t a life sentence. I don’t know anymore, honestly. I know it’s something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life, but not the only thing.
I don’t numb anymore because I love my life. I understand my feelings. I have sober friends I can reach out to when things get confusing or scary. I talk with God, a lot. I know now I don’t need a quick fix— whether it be a cupcake, a pain pill, new dress, gossiping, or busyness, to make me feel better. Usually, I just need a nap, some food, or an ugly cry. I won’t allow myself to fear doing this life thing right or wrong.
I just want to live sober.
I am not perfect, and that’s okay. I make a lot of mistakes, but that’s part of truly living. I also do a lot right. Like showing up for my husband, my daughters, and bettering myself because I care about myself now. I’m back in school, writing a book, and am living out the purpose God has placed on my life— none of which would be possible if I wasn’t sober. I am forever grateful for this path of sobriety, not linear- but damn it, it’s so good.
Today, I love myself enough to not pick up.
And that’s the only box I need to check.
Which is ENOUGH.