One year ago today, I was turning the famous age of 21. It was what I had been looking forward to for years. My 21st birthday was the day that was supposed to give me ultimate freedom. I was going to be able to walk into a bar and party legally with my favorite liquid. No more fake IDs or begging for someone else to do me a solid and get me a bottle so that I could finally breath again.
One year ago today, I didn’t celebrate my 21st birthday the way I had planned. Three months prior I had hit my bottom and made the decision to get help to achieve permanent sobriety. So, I may have not been celebrating the “freedom” I thought I would be but I had a whole different kind of freedom now. I had the freedom of sobriety.
One year ago today, I was still finding my way as a young sober member of sobriety. I was still pretty uncomfortable in my skin and felt very much like an outcast. I was a minority and that was challenging at the time. But I didn’t drink over it because I had learned that the key was “Just stay away from that first drink” so I did.
It’s been a year since I turned 21 and I am still sober but my life is defined by so much more than my physical sobriety. Turning away from the poision was the first step and following that achievement, magical things started to happened.
When I imagined what my future would look like as a sober alcoholic, I was scared to death my life would be boring and miserable in trying to abstain from substance. But it’s quite the opposite. I found a spiritual way to live where my alcoholism doesn’t control me. My obsession to drink was lifted and cravings don’t come around too often. I don’t have to live miserable anymore. Being sober is what allows me to be my authentic self and to wake up every single morning knowing that I have done the best that I can. I wake up knowing exactly what I did the night before and know that I am not hurting anyone anymore. I am not killing myself anymore. I can’t tell you what kind of happiness that can bring a person.
I am not saying it’s not hard sometimes because it is. Alcohol is everywhere and it’s existence is something I don’t wish to deny. So when dozens of people offer me drinks today to celebrate my birthday, of course it stings a little and makes me a tad uncomfortable but what I know is that taking that drink would not be anyway to celebrate my life, it would be one sip closer to the end of my life. For me, as a recovering alcoholic, to drink is to die so I am more than happy and beyond grateful to celebrate my 22nd birthday sober because for me that simply means my life is worth living today.
I am so grateful to all of the amazing people around me today. I am grateful to the friends who have stood by me while I embarked on a different path than the one that was expected and for the new ones who have added light into my life. I am blessed to have an amazing partner, Justin, to share sobriety with and to love me for who I truly am. And I am so lucky to have a family that stands behind me and showers me with love everyday.
If you are struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. You have no idea how not alone you are. I want to welcome anyone to always come to me if they need help or advice or just someone to talk to. The gift I have been given is wasted if I don’t get to share it.
So to end, I’d like to say that today, I am 22 and sober and that feels damn great.