“I need to stop drinking and I think I need your help,” I told my husband in the early morning hours, nearly a year ago.
In that exact moment, a massive weight had been lifted, one that I never even realized existed.
Over the last year of my sobriety, I have traveled quite a bit mentally and emotionally.
Looking back, I am amazed at the journey I have taken, and I am proud at how far I have come. I am so grateful for this year of growth. I have rediscovered my love of writing again, and I have learned to look inward, finding relief in introspection. I have begun to heal through self-discovery and a bit of self-love.
Early on, I dove headfirst into exploring the complicated knot of emotions that I had been avoiding dealing with for so many years. My therapist called it, “Name it to tame it.” It was life-changing. I still force myself to think about what is bothering me on a daily basis, instead of hiding and turning away from these feelings.
Every day, I choose to sit with my thoughts instead of numbing myself with alcohol like I did a year ago. I have learned to be receptive to my emotions and new ideas, instead of being reactive. I don’t turn to a poisonous substance for comfort anymore.
In early sobriety, I was raw. My initial reaction to everything was to judge. Judge myself. Judge others. Judge the world. The situation I was in. Everything. I began to work on moving away from this idea of judgement. I am still trying to live curiously and thoughtfully every day. With compassion.
Most of my life, I have lived reactively and by the judgement of others. Making decisions based on what others think because it’s easier to hide from their varying opinions. Easier to blend in.
It feels so freeing now to let go of that and to make peace with vulnerability. Peace with the imperfections of myself and my past. All of this is due to being sober.
Another important lesson that goes along with that—the judgement of others. It is not about me; it’s about them. If people are judging me, then that is on them. I am in charge of expressing my authentic self and my emotional truth. How it lands on others is up to them. I am not responsible for how people receive it. If others take it to mean a certain thing, then that is their decision. I am only in charge of telling my story and sharing my journey. If it makes others feel a certain way, then that is not on me. I cannot shoulder that burden. For example, if telling my sober story makes other people question their own behavior, then I cannot help that.
At the same time, I cannot hold others accountable or responsible for how they make me feel. I have to stop blaming others for my reaction to what they do. How I manage my feelings to how other people behave is what matters. I am learning to let different, unwanted emotions exist. Anger. Resentment. Fear. Anxiety. Sadness. I am learning how to feel it all, recognize it, and let it go. Releasing it is what counts.
I have learned to embrace vulnerability. I have questioned many decisions, specifically about sharing my sober story so publicly. I have worried over the last year about what others will think of me and how I will be judged. What my family will say. In the end, I have begun to embrace this feeling of vulnerability, as it has allowed me to be more authentic. The judgement is not about me. Things come and go. I must focus on myself and my family now and what brings us joy.
I have learned to be more curious toward my children which has led to more patience, compassion, and kindness. I have developed an understanding of my husband that has allowed us to grow and love one another more deeply.
I have begun to let go of resentments from my past self in order to heal, as I learned early on these were the reasons I was drinking in the first place. To escape, to manage my shame. To avoid feeling. I have faced it all, and I have begun to start to leave the past in the past. I have been released from all the shameful mistakes I have made while drinking, as that is not me anymore.
I never thought I would forgive myself for the things I did while drunk, but I am a different person now. All the blackouts, the awful things I said, and the lying. I have been given a second chance and a rebirth. I am free from the shackles and ties that alcohol had on me, and I have a whole new life ahead of me. My children look at me with pride, and we speak openly about my journey. There are no secrets in our house.
Above all else, I have learned to show myself compassion. This was one of the hardest things for me since the beginning of my sober journey. Self-compassion was a struggle, simply because of the cycle of shame I was in or because of the mindset of judgement that I would always fall into. And with this, I have gained a confidence and joy that I never thought possible for myself.
Recently, a friend told me, “I enjoy being around you so much more now that you’re sober. You’re different, but you’re better. All the best parts of you from before are still there and all the things I loved about you, but you seem so much happier now.”
There isn’t a better compliment on earth. This encompasses exactly how I feel. I am the same person, but before I felt like something was holding me back. It felt as if some large presence was sitting on me, suffocating me, squashing my voice, my breath, making it hard for me to see what was in front of me.
My kids went around the table recently at my birthday dinner and each one told me what they love about me.
Parker said she loves me because whenever she needs me I am there for her.
Chase said I never give up and I always try.
Brayden says I always try to help him until he is happy.
I am not sure what my children would have said about me a year ago when I was still drinking, but ultimately, I know that I would have felt shame and sadness regardless of their words. I would have known that no matter what my kids loved about me back then, deep down, I could have been doing more for them. I believed for so long while I was still drinking that something needed to shift and I could give so much more to my family.
At one year sober, I know that I am doing the very best I can as their mother. At my birthday dinner, I was able to appreciate and feel receptive and grateful in that moment.
I am grateful for this sober life.
I feel like I can stand taller now.
I can breathe deeper.
I can see more clearly and the colors of the world are brighter.
I can speak more confidently.
I can feel this life through my fingertips finally.
I can love myself, and I can love the people around me.
Because getting sober was the very best choice I ever made.
Now, I am free.