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After about one month of sobriety, I realized I wanted more.
I sought out a spiritual healer and was excited to begin my work with her. However, before I embarked on my journey toward sobriety and trudged along the road to heal my trauma, she informed me that I had some preliminary work to do.
She instructed me to generate a list of 50 things I wanted to be or have in this life before I departed this earth. At the time, 50 seemed to be an unrealistic number, but I wanted this badly. I grabbed my pen immediately and began writing. Much to my surprise, the list flowed out of me, with one underlying theme—I longed for peace.
I’ve decided to share my bucket list because as I approach five months of sobriety, I’ve realized that just by putting away the wine and allowing myself to begin to heal, I have achieved many of these goals already. By sharing my raw, and very real, list, I hope this will motivate or inspire someone to consider cessation of alcohol—even for a short time—and choose to focus clearly on what each and every one of us deserves, which is to heal.
Here is my list, taken verbatim from my journal, in the exact order in which they were scribed:
- I want to be a better person.
- I want to write a book.
- I want to help people heal.
- I want to be an inspiration to others.
- I want to speak to help others.
- I want to be unashamed.
- I want to be the best wife possible.
- I want to be unafraid to heal.
- I want to be able to cry without alcohol.
- I want to be strong enough to feel weak and vulnerable at times.
- I want to stop being afraid of the dark.
- I want to get out of fight or flight mode.
- I want to make quilts like my grandmother.
- I want to connect with God and feel his presence within me.
- I want to feel pure joy.
- I want to publish my memoirs.
- I want to go back to school for trauma and addiction.
- I want my daughter to be happy.
- I want both my sons to be happy.
- I want my children to know how much I love them and how sorry I am for the times I hurt them or scared them due to my drinking.
- I want my husband to really understand my disease.
- I want to be able to swim with my face down in a dark lake.
- I want to go to England.
- I want to go to Italy.
- I want to write and never stop again.
- I want to remain healthy as I age.
- I want beautiful skin now that I stopped putting toxins in my body.
- I want to find joy in the little things.
- I want to sleep soundly at night.
- I want the violent nightmares to cease and never come again.
- I want karma to pay my rapist a visit.
- I want to be sober forever.
- I want the desire for wine permanently removed from my mind.
- I want to be able to visit my daughter frequently.
- I want my son to heal his mind after the accident.
- I want this summer to be amazing.
- I want to be married to my husband for 70 years.
- I want to retire in Holden Beach.
- I want to take quilting lessons.
- I want to write when I retire.
- I want to learn how to let go of my competitive side.
- I want to prove through my actions how much I love my family.
- I want to forgive those who’ve wronged me.
- I want to tap into my spiritual side.
- I want to go to heaven so I can reunite with all those I’ve loved and lost.
- I want John to always be my best friend.
- I want to see my dad again to make peace with him.
- I want to grow and blossom into a calm, peaceful soul.
- I want to have a calm, uncomplicated life.
- I want my traumas processed and gone for good.
I remember composing that list and thinking how much work I was going to have to do to eliminate even 10 of those items, but I can assure you that when I stopped altering my mind with alcohol and numbing my feelings—because I was too afraid to give them credence—I began to take baby steps toward my healing process.
Today, at 139 days sober, I can honestly say that I have accomplished over 50 percent of my goals (numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 36, 41, 42, 43, 44, 48, and 49).
If you are someone who read that list and thought to yourself that there’s no way I could give up my wine, and even if I did, I would never be able to tackle a list like that, one thing I have found useful is to tell that voice in my head to, “Shut the f*ck up!”
Do you know why? Because 139 days ago, I never believed I could heal. I never believed I could say goodbye to my nightly ritual of wine with dinner, and then some more as the night went on because it helped me “relax.” But guess what? The pain and shame became agonizing and I just could not do it any longer. Something clicked, and God was listening at the perfect time, but then again, isn’t He always?
Do not get me wrong! I am far from healed. I continue to be a work in progress, but aren’t we all? By removing a chemical that prevented me from feeling, and deciding to be present and participate in life, I liberated myself and was set free to begin my journey toward healing.
When I chose to stop putting a substance in my body that caused me to feel shame the next day, I took a step toward inner peace. On March 8, 2021, when I told myself no more, I eliminated anxiety-riddled mornings filled with fear in wondering if I hurt someone I loved with my words the previous evening. Each minute step enabled me to release an incredible amount of unnecessary weight that I’d been carting around with me.
Enlightening myself with scientific knowledge about addiction and gaining insight into my trauma helped me to comprehend why I was behaving in such a manner. That understanding empowered me to abandon my reliance on alcohol to make me feel better. With each baby step, I began to unveil the “better person” that had always been there. Most importantly, by releasing my shame, I found the courage to share my truth and can now, hopefully, help others in need.
I am sure your list will look completely different from mine, but I would be willing to bet that the underlying theme in yours would be to heal and find peace as well.
As Anne Frank once said, “Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”
Make your list.
Try life without an escape.
Inner peace is within your reach, I promise.