One year of positive sobriety
One year of positive sobriety
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life” -Virgina Woolf
Recently I celebrated myself, I celebrated one year of living sober, I celebrated achieving something I once felt impossible, I am thankful each and everyday for my sobriety.
Sharing my first year sober experiences and reason for going sober in this blog has been something I have unconsciously been avoiding, much like I have avoided many things throughout my life. I have especially learnt that I had become conditioned in avoiding feeling, and that left me avoiding my own mental health issues, hiding all of the feelings I labelled as ‘weak’ or ‘bad’ by avoiding them, ultimately numbing out anything that was uncomfortable using alcohol and in the past drugs. I avoided truly living.
Over a year ago I decided to go sober, and with this decision came a great sense of fear, fear of failing at something that I felt I had to do. The year before I got sober there were many occasions, many red flags, many memories lost due to alcohol abuse, the anxiety and the depression this year was at an all time high. Although I had been in therapy, after every session I found myself needing a drink, at the time I told myself it wasn't a need it was just a want- “A drink would be nice right now” I would think to myself. With therapy my relationship with alcohol was addressed, and I avoided this reality that perhaps I was avoiding my feelings by drinking, so I continued on drinking. Towards the end of 2020 I wanted to prove that I didn’t have a problem with alcohol, so I went 30 days without a drink, then a binge after I celebrated not having a problem, then I went another 50 days, but the binge after these 50 days lasted almost 3 months. This was, what I now know, a relapse.
Throughout this relapse was when I realised that the problem was bigger than me, that I truly did have a problem with alcohol. So I set a date, I said to myself and others around me that after my 30th birthday I was going to really give up alcohol. When I was saying this out loud to people, my inner voice was screaming at me, the fear and the anxiety around really committing to sobriety allowed me to justify drinking all day everyday until this dreaded date.
Fast forward to today, I am here, over a year sober and grateful for my absolute determination to not fail at something I set my mind to. I have just had my first of many sober Christmases, new year and birthday, and what I found is that it really wasn't as bad as I imagined. I was present, my focus was changed to something other than just getting drunk, my focus was on the joy of Christmas and the excitement of a new year approaching, my focus was also on how I felt so proud of myself for being sober.
Over the Christmas period I found a few people would ask me about my sobriety and also why I was sober, a question in which I used to dread, but now I feel myself wanting to be asked, wanting to share my story. I was no longer ashamed of hiding my feelings, I now feel strong enough to own how I feel and my experiences that led me to sobriety.
“Isn’t it interesting that alcohol is the only drug on earth we have to justify not taking”- Annie Grace ‘This naked mind-control alcohol
Over the first year sober I have had regular therapy, I tried one AA meeting, I have read a book on controlling alcohol (Annie Grace I highly recommend) and I have spent time listening to podcasts on sobriety. All of which have become tools in my mental health toolbox around navigating talking about my sobriety, there are many different ways I have explored in answering the once dreaded question “Why don't you drink?”, but I did want to say for anyone early in sobriety or considering it this is a question you don't have to answer if you aren't yet comfortable sharing your reasons- at the end of the day your reasons are your own and no one else's. For myself I have found a lot of courage and pride in answering this question by being truthful, by admitting that I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and by saying “I am an alcoholic” this gave me a sense of release, and by being truthful I was able to feel connected to myself and my true intention around why I chose sobriety.
Although this year has had many challenges and obstacles when it comes to my sobriety, something I read in the current book I'm reading ‘The Alchemist’ was about the challenges and obstacles they faced whilst travelling through the desert towards the oasis. They navigated around the obstacles using a compass that no matter the different challenges they were faced with in the desert the compass was still facing towards their destination, towards the oasis. This is much the same of how I took each day of my first year sober, I knew my destination was to remain sober, my own oasis, and every time life had an obstacle or a challenge for me to face it may have made the journey harder, the days feel longer, but in the end I still knew my desired destination. My compass was still guiding me towards my own oasis, I just had to navigate these obstacles and challenges in a different way.
I'm thankful for where I am today, and I still have my internal compass guiding me towards my own oasis. My new year intention is to live in the here and now, to be fully present in the everyday magical moments of life, and to be grateful for simply existing. Not only am I existing I am making memories, remembering each and every moment, I am no longer avoiding life.