Amazingly, nothing short of a miracle, I have been sober for 50 days today. I don’t know exactly how it has happened this time that I’ve managed to stay sober! This is the longest I’ve ever gone without having a drink since I was a young teenager. It feels great.
The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy as I’ve been slowly stepping out of my sober comfort zone. I have also started exercising and I started a new position this week so it’s been extra busy. Small victories have been attending my book club sober (not a big drinking group of women), and I’ve have been out for dinner with my partner several times where he has had alcohol (luckily he has agreed to only drink beer around me, which doesn’t bother me in the least as I’ve never been a big beer drinker).
Larger things to celebrate are- I went to a southern style potluck that had a bourbon theme to it, dined in a fancy french restaurant where my friends drank cocktails and bottles of red wine, and stayed with family for a weekend who are good wine with good food types. Each challenge I’ve braced myself for feeling weird and out of place, and truth be told, I had moments where I felt disconnected and left out. But it was not the end of the world. I got through the uncomfortableness, relaxed, and let go of the voice in my head telling me that I should be different than I am. Some of my friends know my problems with alcohol and it’s been nice to be honest with them. I’ve told them that I will try attending events with alcohol and if I feel uncomfortable then I might have to leave. They have been accepting and supportive. I told my family that alcohol does not agree with me anymore and makes me feel shitty both physically and emotionally so I am choosing not to drink. I have eluded to this before with them so it didn’t come as a shock, and they were completely fine with me not drinking.
I am starting to believe that I am good exactly as I am. So what if I’m not the life of the party. So what if I’m not the funniest or that outgoing even? I am starting to respect myself in a way that is unfamiliar to me. I am learning to accept myself. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to improve or develop as a person, but that improving or developing has more to do with strengthening who I already am instead of trying to change who I am.
I am a social person, this is for sure. I’ve noticed that when I go too long without socializing, I feel down. I like to have plans and dates. I don’t have children and I have a partner who works a lot, so I’m realizing that I need to structure more activities into my week. However, socializing in very large groups or socializing too much drains me and makes me feel unsettled. So I’ve been trying to focus on the kinds of things that energize and empower me, like visiting one or a couple of good friends at a time. I do like meeting new people but I need to do so in small doses.
I am also recognizing that it’s important to me to focus on what makes me feel good and happy. On what makes me feel alive and well, engaged, and fulfilled. I have always known that I am an outdoors person and lately this has never been more true for me. Being outside, hiking in mountains and the woods makes me feel so uplifted. I can’t explain it in words even. It’s a spiritual experience for me. I feel connected, at peace, and full hearted when I am surrounded by the trees and the sky, and lately, the leaves turning beautiful hues of orange and red. I am on the pacific west coast and the fog is overwhelming me with it’s mystical beauty right now. Sometimes it’s so much I feel like I am going to burst. I just want to explore these feelings and see where it takes me. I am planning multi-day hiking trips in the future so that I can have more of this.
I couldn’t really connect to these kinds of feelings and experiences when I was drinking. I might have had glimpses, but they were small and fleeting. But they were present just enough for me to know that a sober life is a better life. Right now it is the only life for me. I am SO happy to be sober. I can not tell you enough. I don’t know if I am a credible source to take advice from as it has taken me so long to get where I am, and I am still so new, but if anyone reading this is wondering if getting sober is worth it, please believe me that it is so worth it!
For me, staying sober has been about finding and focussing on the positives. Find something that makes you feel alive and happy- or peaceful, confident, engaged, or excited- or whatever feeling that allows you to feel your best, and do this thing as much as possible. The first month is really tough but then it slowly starts to get better. Focus on the good. Even if they are only moments at first- keep them in mind and try to create more of them.
In other news, I attended a new recovery group last night. It is called Refuge Recovery and it is based on the work of Noah Levine, who is a Buddhist and meditation teacher and a therapist in California. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism and meditation and as I’m now getting more passionate about recovery, this group seemed like a good fit. We did some introductions, a 20 minute meditation, then read part of the Refuge Recovery book and then spoke about what we read/what came up for us. It’s a new program, and I feel uncomfortable in groups, so I felt awkward last night, but I’m hopeful for what this group might become.
Hope you all have an amazing weekend.