This is me today. In 9 days, I will celebrate my “First Sober Birthday” with my my AA friends and family. I feel grateful and humble and raw.
For every person, the desire to become sober and begin living a life in the truth, however imperfect, comes from unique motivations. Sadly, many find themselves seeking sobriety after huge losses or tragedy. I am lucky that my story is pretty simple. I knew alcohol consumed ME, not the reverse. I knew I needed to find something I wanted more than the feeling of numbness and relief I got from consuming an entire bottle of Malbec on my couch every night.
I was tired and afraid. Our family had been through so much and I sort of resented (WARNING! Resentment is so dangerous! ) having to start over again with our young children after the course my husband and I had put in motion in 2002 did not succeed. Starting over after moving to the comfort and simplicity of small town life in the company of dear friends, in every sense of the phrase, had not been in our consciousness whatsoever. It happened. Everything we had planned on failed (and then some) and we were forced to come up with another plan. Meanwhile, my parents were getting older and I resented the fact that I was so preoccupied with caring for my own family. I resented everybody and everything for a very long time. I lived with the awful sense of complete domination by choices of others for many years and it broke me. I started to drink. Then I started to need to drink. Then I couldn’t stop.
When you resent people and situations, you forget the power you have to change your life and you lose all hope of ever experiencing serenity. Though I did not know this is what I was doing when alcohol dominated my life, it was. And it was destroying me and moving closer to destroying my family. After suffering the indignity of watching a friendship and business partnership destroy my husband and interfere with our marriage, I did not want to live in the present any longer. My drinking was the equivalent of hiding beneath the covers.
Slowly, after many bad hangovers and raging outbursts that produced nothing but hurt feelings and distance between my husband and me, I began to have tiny inklings of desire to climb out of my self-protective shell (what irony, alcoholism is anything but) and live in the truth everyday. I couldn’t do it by myself. I had to be humble, grateful, open, raw, willing to confess my bad behavior, open to listening to others’ stories, and willing to being broken open over and over by memories and feelings I thought I had long ago dealt with at any moment. This is the life of a sober alcoholic. And it is beautiful.
“After we’ve been in A.A. for a while, we find out that if we’re going to stay sober, we have to be humble people. ….Gratitude to God for His grace makes me humble. When I think about the kind of person I was not so long ago, when I think of the person I left behind me, I have nothing to be proud of. Am I grateful and humble?”
Richmond W., 1954
At the end of the day, however imperfect, I want to live life instead of copping out. Even though unpleasant, feeling fear, anxiety, pain, dread and powerless are part of everyday life. I had to learn to cope. I love the lessons God is giving me, even unto this very moment, in coping with life and my feelings. It has given my family a new life. Sobriety is my joy and I am willing to fight for it every single day.