Today I celebrate 8 years of recovery.
Some people are surprised when I tell them I’m sober. That I’m in recovery. They can’t imagine I was “like that” and wonder if I’m exaggerating or being dramatic. Their minds picture an obnoxious, tearful girl at the bar, that embarrassing scene at a cousin’s wedding, or their sister that can’t seem to get her shit together.
Like Brene Brown said, “I had a pretty high bottom.”
In the end, I was smoking pot every day, sometimes several times a day, drinking every night and totally out of integrity with my values - as a therapist, a partner and a mom. Yes, I was still going to work and tending to my responsibilities, but I was completely numb. “Spiritually bankrupt” as they say.
I was living in constant shame and isolation, all too eager to blame everyone else for my problems rather than take responsibility for myself. I put up a good enough front, but behind that mask, I was crumbling.
8 years ago today I attended my first meeting. Oh my god, it was so hard. Going. Staying. Going back again. Doing what was recommended. Detoxing. Not sleeping. All of it.
Talk about the fire of transformation.
Today, I haven’t smoked pot in 8 years. I’ve had some sips of my husband’s beer on a hot summer day, but I don’t order drinks or buy alcohol and treat it like it’s mine. Because it’s not for me. I understand now that I’m prone to over using anything that numbs the bad feelings - food, work, exercise, being online. I don’t need to add pot and alcohol to that list.
For me sobriety is a choice I make everyday. It’s a practice, a mindset. And I’m far from perfect.
I still entertain fantasies about being able to smoke a joint around the campfire with friends, or get cozy with a Spanish coffee in the corner booth of a bar until I remember those are just fantasies. It was never like that for me. It was that and then two more drinks in secret and getting high again before getting into bed. I could never get altered enough and that’s what started to ruin me.
I work on my recovery everyday. I’ve learned tools that help me stay awake and accountable. I practice yoga. I have my spiritual life. I’ve established accountability with family and friends. I have meaningful work and a community of people who get me.
It’s not always easy - staying sober (marijuana and alcohol are EVERYWHERE), but I’ve come to understand that life isn’t easy in general. We all have our challenges and our demons. There’s so much pain and loss. For everyone.
But you can’t numb the pain without also numbing the joy.
That’s what I was missing toward the end. The joy of being alive. What started out fun turned into a mess. Sobriety helps me be more present - not only for the tough stuff, but for the magic and miracles as well. And that makes being sober today worth it.
In gratitude for all those who have gone before me, those who have supported me along the way, and those who help me be the person I am meant to be today.
And in service to those who will come behind, those who feel the longing to be truly alive and are ready to say, “Enough is enough. I choose joy.”