7 Years Sober

7 Years Sober

2020-05-07 10:18:45

Seven years ago my life changed forever. I still count it as the biggest and best decision I’ve ever made and sometimes I still can’t even believe it happened. It seems like just yesterday I was living in different cities and countries, partying in dark nightclubs until dawn, doing lines of cocaine with strangers, having wine with dinner, and indulging in dirty martinis with sushi. I had no idea what my life would turn out to be and I didn’t care much. Frankly I was more concerned with what party I would be attending or which occasion I would be celebrating and how extravagant it could be, one day at time until those days became years.  

At that point I didn’t think drinking was an issue. I had talked to a therapist once in 2010 about my alcohol use and we chatted about the word alcoholic and its classifications. “No,” I said, “there’s no way I’m an alcoholic. I don’t do alcoholic things. I don’t drink every day. I don’t get DUIs. I’m just having fun like the rest of my friends.” I couldn’t look at it then, and it was due in large part to the language she used. I also didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know there was a whole world outside of the young binge drinking culture I was immersed in. I also didn’t know that what I was doing would not be fun forever and that eventually it would make me hate myself.

Essentially I had built my life around drinking. It defined so much of who I was. I used it to socialize, to allow me to let loose and make careless decisions, and be spontaneous.  I used it to bond with new people and make new friends. I counted myself as a part of so many different friend circles and finally had the popularity I always wanted, thanks to alcohol. I used it as a reward at the end of a long day and I used it when I was heartbroken over a guy, or in a fit of rage over some other type of injustice in my life. Without alcohol who would I be?

That’s what I found myself asking 7 years ago today. Or rather, who was I with alcohol in my life? Alcohol no longer did all the things I thought it did for me. When I saw the truth, I realized alcohol had helped me ruin relationships and friendships, it had caused me to be seen as unreliable, embarrassing, untrustworthy, and lost. But worst of all I felt like there was something deeply wrong with me. I felt like everyone else around me could find the balance between drinking just enough and not too much, yet I never could. I felt defeated over and over again, desperate to figure it out, and overwhelmed with failing every time.

I began with stopping drugs and alcohol first, but as most of you know sobriety doesn’t end there. 

My recovery has been an awakening. An unlearning of all the deeply-held beliefs I had around alcohol, around partying, and around healing. It has become an uncovering of trauma, of putting the  puzzle pieces together of my life, watching myself break open and come back together with each experience that requires healing. It can feel raw and unbearable at times, but the alternative – going back to drugs and alcohol – has been removed from my repertoire of life coping skills. Meaning, I have learned that drugs and alcohol do nothing I thought they did, and therefore I see no point in taking them any longer. The truth has been revealed. But more than that, sobriety has been the gateway to me living my deepest and most full life.

My soul has been on a journey, one that was masked with alcohol for a long time. I never thought about what my career could be during all the years I was drinking, or what I wanted most out of life, but I do now. This journey has taken me to incredible places and has put amazing people on my path. I get to work every day helping others find happiness and freedom from alcohol and live their healthiest, most fulfilling lives. I get to hold space for women who are hurting and guide them on a pathway to healing. 

They say every 7 years your cells regenerate and you become new again. That you shed your old self and move forward into a new 7-year cycle. This might be part old wives’ tale, but for this, my 7th year in recovery, it resonates. 

Every year in recovery has been different, but this year especially. I am different. I feel calmer, wiser somehow, and willing to be untamed. I have quit fearing myself and started trusting myself.

Grief still hurts. Feelings are still big. Life is never perfect. But I am no longer under the guise that alcohol could add anything to my life. I am in tune with my body and the way it experiences the world. Recovery is my guiding light. This unraveling has been painful and wonderful, as I’m positive it will continue to be.

Over these last 7 years I’ve become someone else, or I’ve become who I was always meant to be. 

Either way, I know what it feels like: coming home.

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