Thank you for 3 years sober!

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Three years. It truly feels unfathomable. It feels like forever ago I couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to imagine facing my life without the crutch of a substance. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me–why I felt like I was so unbelievably broken. I would observe the lives of others and how they managed to get through their days as normal people. I didn’t understand how that kind of life could exist. I was always reaching for something, someone, to save me from my despair. Alcohol and drugs had a complete hold on me and it made me so angry. But at the same time, they were my best friends and I really didn’t know how to do life without them.

On August 5th, 2013, I made a leap of faith in attempt to divorce the broken person I had so sadly become. I wanted more. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I had a purpose. I knew that I couldn’t waste the life I was given. I believed I could have better–I knew I could do better. I just had no idea how.

I started this change by eliminating the common denominator in all of my present problems. Substance. I decided to get sober. This honestly, in a way, felt like my life was over. And it was. My life was over as I knew it. I was only 20 years old and it was pretty devastating to realize this was my reality. I wasn’t just college binge drinking. I was sick with alcoholism. It was scary to admit that but also it was the most relieving discovery. I no longer had to be a slave to my drugs. I could admit out loud that I was powerless over substance and that I needed help.

Eliminating substance was only the start to a journey that will be ongoing until the day that I die. I will aways be an alcoholic and I will never be able to drink normally. I cannot have one drink and quite frankly I don’t want one drink–I want the whole damn bottle. My alcoholism wants me dead and it will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

Staying physically sober was just the beginning. I needed and continue to need a spiritual solution in order to stay well. For me, that consists of being completely honest, being of service to others and taking responsibility for my part in my wrongs. If I feel shitty about myself and my actions, that takes me closer to a drink. And the closer I get to a drink, the closer I am to losing everything beautiful in my life and it takes me closer to an alcoholic death. The most valuable lesson I think I have learned in recovery is the importance of partaking in esteemable acts because that’s what gives me self-esteem–knowing that I am doing some good in the world and not just selfishly taking from it.

I believe these last three years have been the best years of my entire life. They haven’t by any means been easy. Life still happens. People fuck me over, I’ve lost ones I love, I’ve struggled and continue to struggle with eating disorders, and there have been many many tears. But what recovery and sobriety has given me is continuous hope. There has never been a moment in the last three years where I have felt like giving up on life. I have too much faith in this life now to think that things will never be okay. I know that they will no matter what I face. The reason for that is because I am sober. I get to feel everything–the good and the bad and I feel it all. I am here one hundred percent of the time. I don’t get to escape anymore and I don’t want to.

I have received so much in these last three years. I can’t honestly believe how much I have. I have an amazing relationship with my family and I never go a day without being told I am loved by them. I have incredible friendships that have carried me through the hard times, including one of my best friends who is 8 years old with autism. I met my person who I love with every fiber of my being. I get to live in a beautiful apartment with him and share our sober lives together. I fucking graduated from college and started a career in my chosen field! But most importantly, I have sobriety. Recovery is the most important out of all of those things because without it, I promise you I would lose it all.

Thank you to everyone who has supported through this journey thus far and has completed accepted me for the alcoholic that I am. I am so beyond grateful.

What You Don’t See

 

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The reason I write, create, and share my pain and my journey so candidly is because I am too familiar with the feeling of loneliness and believing that I am completely misunderstood. I spent so much of my life attempting to hide my pain through substances. Pain is what introduced to alcohol. That warm, burning feeling of hard liquor easing it’s way down my throat was the best solution I could find to run from my sadness, my despair and my hopelessness. The problem was that I am an alcoholic which means I have a disease of the mind and of the body. I cannot have one drink. I cannot take one hit of weed. I cannot snort one line of cocaine. And I cannot take one pill of anything. My alcoholism is like a demon that takes over my entire being when substance enters my body. I have no control of how much I am going to consume because my disease wants more and more and more until I’m dead. My attempt to block out all of my pain through substance resulted in me getting dragged into the darkest places in life and the feeling of doom doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Alcoholism is just one part of my makeup though.There are many elements that make me who I am and one of those is that I suffer from clinical depression. It’s something that I still hold a lot of shame around. I feel more comfortable identifying myself alcoholic than ever having to admit that I’ll most likely have to be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life. There truly is so much stigma around mental illness. I believe that a huge part of my substance abuse was me attempting to self-medicate. Luckily, one of the many gifts of sobriety is that now I have the ability to treat my depression with the same importance I treat my alcoholism with.

In August, a new romance began for me. This naturally brought me a lot of joy. Everything I ever wanted was present in my life. I had a new boyfriend, I was starting on my last year of college, I was continuing with the job I loved, was starting a new internship and I had amazing friends and family supporting me in every way. There was nothing to be sad about.

But one morning I felt like something was off. It was really hard to get out of bed and it wasn’t because I was tired. I first thought maybe I wasn’t doing enough for my recovery but as I increased my actions towards that portion of my life and nothing change over the next few weeks I realized what was happening. My depression had returned. I could feel it in my eyes. It’s like they become glazed over and I just simply go through the motions of life. My anxiety heightened and it felt like if I put my foot on the ground it would shatter. It’s so difficult to put depression into words because it’s not necessarily sadness. It’s depression. For me that means I feel unmotivated, constantly fatigued, removed from myself, and I don’t get excited about things I normally would be excited about. Getting through the day feels like pulling teeth.  I knew what was going on because I’ve dealt with this for as long as I can remember. I knew I should probably call my doctor and get my medicine adjusted but I felt too shameful and convinced myself I could handle it all on my own. How could someone who has everything be suffering like this? I didn’t want my boyfriend to know because I didn’t want him to think I was “crazy”. And I didn’t want to bother my friends and family with it because how many times could they hear it?

So I hid and tried my hardest to pretend like everything was okay. But it wasn’t. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a dark place that I had no interest in being in. I started to get scared because I really did not want this to be happening but for some reason I wasn’t asking for help. I kept hoping that it would just go away. But that’s not how clinical depression works no matter how much I would like it to.

The amazing part about having loving people in your life is that they notice when something is going on. My boyfriend asked me if I was okay and I broke down and told him the truth. I expressed I was concerned in telling him because I didn’t want him to think less of me. His responds is something I’ll never forget. He said “Thank you for telling me. I want you to know that I love this part of Carrie just as much as I love the happy part of Carrie. I love you no matter what.” His words made me realize that I don’t need to apologize for having depression–for being who I am and going through what I go through. I realized that at some point in time, a person, society; probably both, made me feel like I should hide my pain. But that right there is the problem. Pain demands to be felt no matter what. No matter what form it comes in you’re going to feel it and that’s something I learned long ago in recovery. But I guess depression felt different because just like alcoholism, it’s invisible in a lot of ways to the outside world. You can’t always see the illness so obviously therefore it isn’t taken seriously. In my experience, there is such a lack of understanding of what it really is.

Shortly after that conversation with my partner I knew I needed some help and that it was okay to admit that I couldn’t do this alone. I went to the doctor and started the process of readjusting my medication. I didn’t feel better overnight but eventually I felt that fog lift. Unlike my response to depression in the past, I kept showing up for life even on the hardest days of waking up. But I was also more gentle with myself.  I started to acknowledge that it was okay to take more naps than usual. It was okay to let the people who I love and trust know that I was going through a rough patch.

I wanted so badly to write this blog post while I was going through this but I felt like I had nothing to say. I wanted to have a solution to the suffering so I could share that with you all but when you’re in it, it’s hard to see that solution. But I knew I would come out of it because I always do.

I’m still growing as a person and that’s one of the most beautiful parts of life. My life is not perfect but because of everything I’ve been through I know that I can walk through anything and I can do that sober. I’ve grown so much in sobriety and recovery. I’ve grown through my friendships and through the people who surround me on a daily basis. I’m growing with a partner and learning how incredible love really is. And lastly, I get to grow through my hardships while experiencing my depression. I’m learning how to accept that part of me and to not feel ashamed of the cards I was dealt. I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore and I don’t want people who share this illness with me to feel ashamed either. I’m writing this to tell you that you’re not alone. You’ll never be alone. 

 

An open letter to all the men who have left me:

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I’m writing this to you because I think you should know something. It’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you so here it goes.

My search for companionship has never been for cheap or casual connections. I’ve always craved true love. I’ve always set out to give and receive the greatest love. As you know, I am very open about that so I know that every single one of you knew that about me. Some of you thought that we could be that great love and it simply didn’t pan out the way we had planned. But most of you knew that I would never get that great love from you but you decided to pursue me anyway.

Why? I’m not totally sure. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out why every single one of you decided to leave me. I accept that I will never know exactly why but what I do know is that in the beginning of each and every relationship with you all, I was made to feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. We laughed, we exchanged intimate stories of our pasts, and shared our hopes and our dreams and trusted that those things were safe with the other person.

I heard you. I saw you for everything that you were and loved it and accepted it and never judged it. I felt truly heard by you. Truly seen by you. Accepted by you. Not judged by you. And truly loved by you.

Some of you shared a want to continue this way forever. Some of you voiced fear of never being able to do so. But in one way or another, we consumed each other and dove into the comfort of love.

And then one day, in every single one of these relationships, you looked me and saw right through me and I felt that with every fiber of my being. There was a time in every relationship where I knew that you would leave me sooner or later. I’ve sat in so much denial while being in love with you. I tried to convince myself that it would all turn out. That you would look at me with amazement again and I would feel secure. But that day would never come.

The day that has never failed to arrive is the departure of you all. That horrible moment where you tell me you can’t do this anymore. That crushing blow where you leave me.

The reasons you have given me have varied. Distance, my sobriety or the lack of yours, sex, the want of other people or you just not being emotional ready.

My most recent romantic relationship was with one of you who I had been friends with for a while. You were someone I trusted more than any other guy I had been involved with because we had an amazing bond and friendship first. I thought that things could be different this time because I could never see my friend hurting me like the rest of you did.

But that day arrived. The day my phone rang and you chipped at my faith in love by telling me you couldn’t do this anymore. It was one of the cruelest endings to a relationship thus far. You told me that when we were friends and you had secret feelings for me, that you could never understand why all of the men in my life would eventually leave me, until you got romantically involved with me.  And then you saw why.

That makes me sound like some kind of monster. But you then continued to explain that my intensity, my level of commitment to love; to you, was too scary. It was too much pressure and I wasn’t the girl for you.

This nearly destroyed my faith, not in love, but in myself. Your words made me question everything. They made me ashamed of who I am and what I need and want in love. For days, I felt defeated. For the first time, I felt like one of you finally told me the truth and the truth was that something was wrong with me when it came to love.

What I got out of it was that I loved too hard and I expected too much from all of you. But then I realized that I was allowing your actions to define my thoughts. I was allowing you all to rearrange my perception of what love should be. I was allowing you to bury me.

What I want you all to know is that I am no longer going to allow you leaving me to dent my faith in my want for the greatest love. I know I wasn’t perfect. I know that I have things to work on. I have no problem admitting that and have no problem apologizing for the times that I have been wrong and have hurt you. But what I do have a problem with is letting your words and actions take away from who I am.

I will never apologize for loving you with all of my heart. I will never allow your problem with my “intensity” to change the core of what I believe in and what I believe in is loving with everything that you have. I believe in putting your heart on the line for love. I believe in communicating wants and needs and making compromises for the other person. I believe in sharing the scary thoughts and the truth. I believe in making a true and meaningful commitment to the person you love.

But most of all, I believe that you all left me because none of you were ever supposed to be my greatest love. Although I have had immense amounts of anger towards every single one of you for leaving me, I now just have gratitude for you passing through my life. You all  have taught me things that no one else could have. You showed me the things I want in a relationship but mostly you have showed me the things that I don’t want. One of my biggest character defects is that I ignore red flags and put up with too much bullshit. With the help of you all, I have now gotten in enough pain to change.

I can’t change you or how our relationships ended and I don’t want to anymore. I can only change myself but I’m not going to change what you wanted me to. I am not giving up my dream for great love, I am just changing my path of how to get there.

I Got a Good Start on Starting Over

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If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that you have to get in enough pain to change. That’s what happened to me two years ago today.

I spent the majority of my existence feeling like something was missing. Something was always off with me. I never felt good enough and I was always reaching outside of myself to fill the aching pain in my soul.

When I was 13 years old, that changed for me. That feeling of uselessness and emptiness vanished because I found what would become my best friend. My first drink was a shot of whiskey. I remember like it was yesterday. I felt the poisonous liquid burn it’s way down my throat and soon enough that became my favorite feeling because I knew all of the bad would soon be gone.

After that first shot of whiskey, I had another and spent the rest of the night obsessing about how I was going to get another and another and another. Alcohol was the first thing that allowed me to breath. It clouded my mind and all the monkey chatter disappeared and it made me feel like life was worth living because I didn’t have to be me anymore.

I didn’t know that how I drank was alcoholic for a long time. I never have been tipsy in my life because when I drank it’s not just to take the edge off. I drank to get fucked up– to get obliterated. I drank to exit reality.

When I was 18 years old I moved to San Francisco and I shortly realized that my drinking was going to be a problem but I didn’t care. I became so disconnected from myself I barely remember two years of my life. There started to be consequences to my drinking and I started doing things my kid self swore I would never do. My life became a mess and although I was functioning, I was actually dying.

Towards the end of my drinking days, I literally couldn’t face the day without getting intoxicated. When my alarm would ring for to me to get up for work, I would lay there and stare at the ceiling and try to come up with one reason worthy enough for me to suit up and show up for life. The only reason that could get me out of bed was to get loaded. I cannot describe how miserable that felt.

The last night I drank, I whole heartily planned on not drinking that night. I knew my drinking was getting so bad that I didn’t even want to do it in public anymore. But shortly into that night, I got offered a shot of vodka and didn’t have any defense against that first drink.

I ended up having over 30 shots of hard liquor that night. I blacked out and shockingly was alive. I woke up the next morning and could barely make my way to the bathroom. Once I got there, I looked in the mirror and had no idea who that girl was. I started to cry at the sight of who I had become and I heard a voice in my head say “If you don’t get sober, you’re going to die”

That day I reached out and got help. I can’t fully explain how I’ve managed to stay sober from then until now. The only explanation I have is divine intervention. Something bigger than me got me to where I am today.

I wanted to clean up my life, to have a chance at happiness and to somehow to do that sober. So in order to get something I never had, I had to do a lot of things I had never done. I was in so much pain emotionally that I was willing to do whatever it took to not feel that way anymore. I thought maybe I could find some quick fix to all this madness but what I’ve learned is that being an alcoholic demands me to work on myself everyday for the rest of my life. I have a disease of the mind and of the body. I have a reaction to alcohol that causes me to crave it and with that then comes a mental obsession. It’s fatal and I have to treat it that way.

What got me sober and what keeps sober is enlarging my spiritual life. I had to accept that I was powerless over alcohol. I had to become willing to turn my life over to a higher power of my understanding. I had to take responsibility for the wrongs I had done in my life and to forgive the wrongs that were done to me. I had to look closely at my defeats of character and put work and effort into improving those faults. I had to make my wrongs right with the people I hurt. I had to learn how to meditate and pray and find that connection with my higher power and lastly, I had to continue to pass what was freely given to me onto the next person who was suffering. These simple concepts truly changed my life and through a spiritual awakening, my alcoholism remains in remission and my obsession to drink is lifted for today.

Sobriety didn’t and doesn’t solve all of my problems but it’s allowed me to develop tools and relationships that help me face life without killing myself through my disease. Sometimes, during painful times, being sober feels like going into surgery without any anesthesia– you feel everything and it hurts like a bitch. I lost an uncle in sobriety, I’ve watched my fellows nearly die of this disease in sobriety, my best friend Oliver passed away in sobriety , I got my heart broken in sobriety and there have been days where I have been so defeated and depressed that I sleep my life away in sobriety. But I got through all of that without a single drop of substance.

Two years. I cannot believe that I’ve been sober for two years. I am truly humbled by the gift that my fatal disease has given me. I have amazing people who surround me on a daily basis, I have a job that makes my life worth something, I live in one of the coolest cities in the world, I am getting an education in the field of helping others, and everyday I have more than a million things to feel grateful for. Everyday isn’t perfect and I am certainly not perfect but I have so much. I am overwhelmed with what these two years have brought me and even in the darkest times, I have my sobriety.

If you’re suffering from substance abuse, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that I understand the vacancy you feel throughout your entire being. I know what it feels like to want to die and to have your faith in life shattered on a daily basis by those mean voices in your head. I know what it’s like to want to give up and to reach the darkest bottoms of life. What I discovered is that my rock bottom was a beautiful start to my life today.

Just because I’m clean, doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.

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I get asked quite often if it’s hard to stay sober. I hardly ever respond by saying “yes”. Once I made the decision to completely cut substance out of my life, the physical state of sobriety has not been the most challenging part of the change. It was all the damage left behind and I think that’s where the confusion between sobriety and recovery occurs. Recovery is so much more than not taking a drink. It’s about having a complete physic change. When I got sober, everything had to change so that I could start to grow within my spiritual life. If I had simply just tried to stay substance free without any action taken around how I live my life, my sobriety wouldn’t exist.

My main objective when I wake up in the morning is to press the restart button on my recovery. I wake up every single day an alcoholic. No matter how much clean time I have, it doesn’t erase my disease nor does it cure it. What I did yesterday will not keep me sober today. I have to work everyday, all the time on recovery and the second I choose to put my sobriety second to anything, I am at risk of relapsing.

That isn’t easy. Recovery is not easy. I get patted on the back all the time saying I have the will power that most don’t but recovery isn’t will power. My recovery depends on my spiritual state and how much I choose to put into that. I’ve had to make sacrifices that people without alcoholism don’t have to make. Some say they feel bad for me but most days I am so beyond grateful for this disease because it makes work hard to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Recently I had a really bad day. Nothing catastrophic happened, I just couldn’t get my stress level down. I was driving home from work and this thought came to my head that has only happened one other time in my 22 months of sobriety. That monster I like to keep in it’s cage called alcoholism came out for a second and it said to me “The only way to feel better is to drink” It scared the shit out of me. For that second, I craved the oblivion. I romanticized drinking and I relished in the thought of the calm substance could bring me. Then I picked up the phone and called a fellow sober person and surely enough was able to lock the monster up again.

For a few days after that I was really angry. I was really mad that I was an alcoholic because how it that fair? How is it fair that I can’t be normal and I can’t have the fun my peers are having? Why do I even waste my time working so hard at being sober when I still have shitty days? Why do I have a disease that wants me dead? Why me?

These are the kind of thoughts that potentially could get me drunk because alcoholism wants me to think this way. It wants me to feed it and through recovery I’ve learned that I can’t afford to give in to those thoughts, not even for one second because it only takes one second for me to drink again–to take a sip, to smoke that pipe, to snort poison, to die spiritually and eventually physically.

My alcoholism kept me in the dark for so many years. It loved to tell me how worthless I was and to beg for substance to soothe the aching pain. I lived to be fucked up–to not be me and when I look back at that misery, I laugh at my self-pitty because my life is amazing because I am in recovery. Recovery has given me a life that I never knew was possible. I thought substance was going to allow me to survive this miserable existence and now I know that recovery makes it possible to actually live an incredible life.

So to those who wonder if it’s hard being a 22 year old recovering alcoholic, my answer to you is sometimes. It’s hard to explain myself to people on a daily basis as to why I can’t just have one beer. Or having to defend why I chose this life over my old one and to constantly feel like an alien of some sort because how I live my life is different than majority of society.

I feel left out sometimes and I occasionly wish I could blend in and be normal. But to blend in is not what I’m here to do. I strive to make a difference and lead by example of how doing what is right for you is perfectly okay. I share my pain openly because that’s rare to find in this life. We all wonder what our purpose of being here is. I know mine. This life is hard enough for us all and if I can be just one person that makes a difference in someone’s life, someone’s day, or to just make their life a little easier, then I am serving my authentic purpose. No, it’s not easy but just like anything, amazing things really don’t come easy and I believe that’s what makes them amazing. I am so grateful for exactly how my journey has panned out thus far and I welcome the challenges I face because they allow me to grow and that’s what my recovery is all about.

The Pain Before the Bottom

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Last night I was driving home from a long day and my mind was wondering. I traveled back to a time where misery filled my being and hope was no where to be found. I started thinking about how much my life has changed since I got sober and my body became light and I was overcome with this intense feeling of gratitude. I feel grateful everyday for how many things have changed for the better but this was different. This was overwhelming to the point where I was smiling uncontrollably while tears were running down my face simultaneously. It all was consuming and it was beautiful.

I tend to focus on the changes in my life that have occurred since I sobered up from my 2 years of heavy substance use but the truth is my pain started long before that. Drinking was the solution to escape from so much existing pain.

I remember as a kid asking God “why me?” for so many reasons. I believed that if there was a  God he hated me because why would anyone give someone this life if they loved them? Why would anyone let these terrible things happen if they were watching over them? It just never made sense to me.

I grew up in a chaotic environment. My parents divorced left me in a stable home half the time and I marinated in mental illness and alcoholism at the other house hold . Violence, screaming, hatred, fighting, bruises, blood, and fear were normal to me. I never felt safe even when the storm would pass because I knew the insanity would return sooner or later. I didn’t even know what serenity felt like until I was 20 years old.

My whole world, my whole existence was shattered from the very beginning. A lot of it had to do with my uncontrollable circumstances but some of it had to do with my skewed perception of life and the world. Things were never okay for me even when they should have been.

When I was 14 years old any ounce of hope I ever had was stolen from me. For months I was courted with fancy dinners, elaborate gifts, and the most beautiful love letters one could ever read by a 17 year old who had me smitten. My young self fell in love for the first time and I thought I had found the answer to all of my pain. I believed I was safe from the chaos. But what I thought was love but not love at all. When I felt like I could finally begin to breath, this prince charming raped me. Everything changed that day.

I think that really was the first time that the pain I felt was so unbearable I knew I had to find some way to escape. I tried everything–literally everything to try and escape the feeling of uselessness and worthlessness. Self-destruction became apart of my identity and I had no idea how I was ever going to get the salt out of this gashing wound.

I remember having so much rage within me that it was scary. To be so angry with a person, with the world, with yourself is now beyond my comprehension yet it’s how I lived the majority of my life. It’s hard to relate unless you’ve been there but truly wanting to die is something I felt regularly. When I found substance to quiet the pain, I came to accept that this was how I was going to survive life. Not live life, but survive it.

The day I decided to get sober was the morning after I drank more than I ever had before. I was so hung over by the poison that I could barely get up to go to the bathroom. Once I got there, I glanced at myself in the mirror and the girl I saw looked dead. I practically was. I started to cry and something happened to me that had never happened before. There was this voice in my head softly whispering “No more. Something has to change” In that moment I knew I had to get sober or I was going to die. For some reason, for the first time, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to get better.

Today when I ask God “why me?” it’s with different intent. I ask God “why me?” in complete and utter gratitude because I really don’t understand how it is possible for my life to be as beautiful as it is today. I never thought that the rage would ever go away or the need to escape would vanish and that I could go through life every day feeling good about who I am. I never imagined having compassion for those who have hurt me or forgiving them and praying that even the worst monsters from my past find their peace. I don’t understand why I received the gift of sobriety–physically, emotionally, and spiritually but I am humbled by this journey. I believe it was no accident that I got sober before I turned 21 years old because I know I would be dead if I had continued feeding my alcoholism it’s poison.

Not only has sobriety kept me from an inevitable alcoholic death, it’s allowed to face the most excruciating events of my past. I’ve been able to rip off all of the band-aids I so foolishly thought could heal the open wounds and now I can gently go through the process of healing and appreciate the scars that are left behind.

I don’t regret my past nor wish to shut the door on it. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. My damage is now my blessing because it’s given me my ultimate purpose in life and that is to help others. I went through what I went through so that I could sit here today in gratitude for the beauty of my heart simply beating. I am alive and I am actually living.

I know that there are many out there that don’t feel the way I do today and probably feel that what I am saying is completely impossible to achieve. I’m here to tell you that it is possible. There is so much beauty in life even through all of the fucked up pain. So to those who have not found their serenity; their peace, I pray that someday you do. Or that you at least you find the hope that it’s within you because I promise you it is.

Life After Love

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I suppose you could say that I’ve reached the calm after the storm. In a lot of ways it’s relieving but in other ways it’s devastating. It’s relieving because the chaos has subsided and my life is balanced and manageable again. It’s heart breaking because that means it’s over. The battle is done and the process of moving on continues and although it’s not as excruciatingly painful as it was when he left, there’s a dull pain left behind and it quietly aches in my body.

When my relationship ended I was so scared to go through it sober. I had no idea what that was going to look like. A year and almost 9 months substance free seems like an eternity but really, it’s only the beginning. There have been days over the past few months where escaping felt like the only possible thing I could seek. I didn’t feel like drinking but I sure as hell didn’t feel like being here. But somehow, through a higher power that’s greater than me, through the tools I’ve learned along my journey of sobriety, and the loving people who surround me daily, kept me going. Getting my heart broken in sobriety is a first and it’s painful but it’s also beautiful.

There came a time during recovery while I was in my relationship where I became complacent. I wasn’t working as hard to keep this gift of sobriety I had so freely received and I became pretty defeated. I didn’t believe that I could learn anymore–I thought I knew it all. And that’s why for me, getting hurt and being angry has actually been an amazing experience. Why? Because it means I can feel emotions. It means I can grow and learn. It’s humbled me and has brought me back into active recovery. Those are things that I couldn’t do in my disease of alcoholism. I couldn’t face life on life’s terms because that was too scary. That was too hard. But now with every new experience, I learn how to get through it with dignity, grace, and humility but most of all I get to get through it sober.

I’ve watched fellows that share this disease of mine turn to the bottle again, people I never thought would. To watch this happen is beyond heart breaking. Your soul actually feels shattered for a moment because you know that there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. There are moments of anger and even a sense of betrayal after all you have shared. Then the sadness comes and so does the fear. The fear that one day that could be me because when you’re an alcoholic, to drink is to die. Picking the bottle up again is like playing russian roulette, it’s a gamble but in this case with your own life. It’s not a joke, it’s a fatal reality and when I see this happen it reminds me to hold on a little tighter. To work a little harder. To be a little better. Because I don’t want it to happen to me.

But in that, I don’t stay sober out of the fear of relapsing. I stay sober because I want to. Because it’s my only chance of living an honest and meaningful life. It’s the only stretch of time in my life where I have consistently been okay and content and even happy. I had a lot shame about who I was before I started recovering from alcoholism. I was told that I was too sensitive, that I took things too personally, that I loved the wrong people and I told myself that I wasn’t ever gonna be good enough. Today I’m not ashamed to tell you all that yes, I am sensitive, I care deeply and I love to love because that is simply what I do. That is who I am and today, that’s good enough for me.

Clarity is one of many gifts I have received. I have the clarity to realize that even through the dull aching pain of my love leaving me, I am happier now. I am better off now and I know that not only will I be okay, I am okay.

So sitting in the calm after the storm of my break up is where I am today. I’m learning to embrace the good of the days and to be honest with the sadness that surfaces in some moments. I’m learning that I wasn’t ever a half of a relationship that made me whole. I am whole and I know that continuing to do the right thing, to be a good person, to be kind to all, and to seek spiritual answers rather than humans ones will get me through this. Every morning I ask my God to keep me sober–physically, emotionally and spiritually and with that, I have faith that my life is exactly as it should be which grants me daily serenity and that is the greatest gift of all.