How Did I Get This Far?

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Two days ago my sister sent me an early Happy One Year message to say congratulations. I’ve been silent on this blog for a couple of months because my mind and heart were filled with unanswerable questions every time I tried to write a new post. As my anniversary approached I really had no idea how I would feel on the day itself.

Would I feel a sense of accomplishment? Or would I feel strange and a bit directionless as I usually do after a very rewarding experience? A tiny part of me even speculated that I’d feel sorrow or a sense of loss as I would no longer be a ‘newbie’ with all the gentleness, kindness and kid-glove handling that usually comes with being at the beginning of any journey that is deemed difficult. And then of course, there was the part of me that was a little freaked out by the big “So What Now” question. I even felt a bit guilty because, while my first year has been an intense emotional journey, for me it has not been particularly challenging physically or mentally (aside from the over-thinking). I know of so many others who are really struggling and I wish I could help. I’m not certain of what is different about my journey so far that has allowed me to reach this milestone, but I can tell you what has helped me:

CRAWL AROUND IN YOUR WOUNDS, SO YOU CAN HOPE AGAIN

In the first few months learning to recognize and understand what my triggers were helped me a lot.  Learning to accept and gently face my own personal issues has become invaluable to my growth. It’s not easy and sometimes I want to damn it all to hell. Believe me, I miss the abandon that can come from giving in to the madness. Sometimes I miss not caring so much. But, the trade-off is worth so much more to me than giving in. I have embraced walking around in my wounds, hand in hand with my dark side, and facing the shadows together, and I have to say, some days I actually enjoy exploring this new territory because I know that I’m wiser, tougher, and more whole because of it.

“As frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have, and it comes from the most human part of us: Hope.”  Professor X, X-men: Tales of Future Past

UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

In the beginning I worried a lot about what people would say. I was ashamed and felt dirty, broken, unattractive. I thought that having a problem meant that I was a problem. Of course, I was wrong and even now, I still have to remind myself often. It’s takes a lot of work to change self-defeating habits into self-appreciating ones but it IS possible. You are not broken. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Making the decision to give up drinking is a big step in itself, one you should be proud of. Trying every day is also another.

“I stand firm in my belief that anyone who has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not posses an off switch would be far happier if they stopped trying to locate one. Stopping drinking for such people equates to the beginning of self-love, contentment and living a full life. Freeing the mind by calling it a day on the fight with alcohol is a true gift.” Soberistas

FIND A COMMUNITY

In the beginning I went to a few AA meetings because that was what was expected. I found a greater sense of community and healing here however, on the Sober Blogging Network. I could relate better to fellow writers and bloggers. No matter what “our drug of choice” is, or the level of our addiction, the struggles we face are the same. We all endeavour to value ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. We all face demons and dark sides of our past in the first few months of sobriety, and we all have to find the tools to deal with them and heal. We all have to come to an understanding about our triggers. We all want to feel better and be proud of our accomplishments. We all want compassion. We all want to be understood and to believe that we are not alone. Whether that sense of community comes from the Sober Blogging Network or from AA Meetings, it is invaluable to have. Find a community that feels comfortable for you and say Hi. You’ll find that there is always someone willing to smile back at you.

IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP

Trust me when I say that it is okay to ask for help. Whether you ask members of your AA group, the Sober Blogging Network, your friends, the higher power you believe in, or even me, you will find peace in asking. This is not a journey you have to undertake alone.

BE OF SERVICE

On the days when I feel at my lowest and the most disconnected from myself are the days when I feel purposeless. Those are the days when I stay under the blanket and binge watch TV series like Vikings or Games of Thrones, or Harry Potter movies, just to disappear into a another world. But, once I get tired of hiding, (and feeling sorry for myself), I get to work. I look for ways to be of service. Trust me, helping others, helps you in so many ways too. I have found so much of myself by being compassionate and caring when I can. The big and the little things do make a difference.

STRUCTURE

I figured out what worked for me and what brought me dangerously close to the edge. I changed my socializing habits and my diet. I made lists of what was important to me, pinned them to the fridge and stashed them in my wallet. I made a commitment to this blog. I focused on making the creative pursuits I enjoy a greater part of my life. I made a commitment to healing myself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. What worked, I kept. What didn’t, I tossed (without looking at myself as a failure). Different methods suit different people. Figure out what suits you and makes YOU happy.

“Part of recovery is structure: Recognizing what is working and sticking with it.” Sherlock, Elementary

NOW, TODAY IS THE DAY

I have officially been sober for 365 days. Yay me! I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of emotion I felt when I received my sister’s message that day. For the rest of that day, I was one of those people you see walking around with little smiles tugging at the corners of their lips. I was happy with ME. I was proud of myself, finally. And I still am.

Love and light to you all,

Phoenix

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24 comments

  1. What a great post…step by step sharing what worked for YOU…and boy did it ever!
    Happy, Happy Birthday!
    I love this sober network too….it has helped me beyond measure, and continues to, as I am sure it will you.
    Stay proud of yourself!

  2. I’m here throwing glitter and crowning you with a diamond encrusted cap! I was so thankful when I met you here in the Blogosphere. I felt you and I were kindred spirits.

    I think you’ll find being one year sober is a relief. You know what you’re made of and that you’re valuable of living a sober life.

    Congratulations, my friend! You’re amazing!

  3. Hi Phoenix,
    Not sure how it happens that I keep missing posts. I did miss this one and I would have loved to congratulate you one your soberversary. 🙂 Belated congratulations. Beautiful to read how you rose from the ashes. I am happy for you! 🙂
    Hugs, Feeling

  4. Hi Phoenix 🙂 I actually came over to check on your blog a day or so before this post appeared in my feed. nothing then since November. hmmm. we always hope for the best and fear the worst when other people don’t post for a while, don’t we? no remonstrances meant whatsoever by the way – I am a firm believer in posting when it feels right to each of us, whatever that is.

    anyway what a wonderful post, full of such great insight and experience. we think when we stop drinking that we are giving up a mind-expanding substance – your words illustrate beautifully that in fact sobriety is the true freedom, and opens up new horizons beyond anything we could have dreamt.

    many congratulations on your one year. that’s such a solid achievement and will support you in all the excitement and trials that day to day living can bring.

    ooh and always like your Elementary quotes, too! we watched an episode recently where one of the sub-plots was when Sherlock felt compromised after a breach of confidence of what he’d shared in an AA meeting… powerful stuff and it felt very special to have a main-stream drama based on issues facing a person in recovery.

    1. Thank you Primrose. You have always been incredibly supportive and encouraging.
      “Sobriety is the true freedom” I like that very much. I do believe you are inspiring another post my dear. 🙂 I was talking to a friend today about how self-assured and confident I feel. A lot of doubt has gone. I am ready for more.
      Yes, Sherlock’s my guy these days, both on Elementary and BBC’s Sherlock. 🙂
      I find lots of relevant quotes Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock for sure.

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