8 months free

Young woman meditating outdoors

I’ve stopped counting single days of sobriety. I didn’t do it on purpose; one of my sobriety counter apps stopped working. I have another one that counts in months and days- and as of today I am 8 months and 7 days sober. I could probably do the math and figure out how many days that is pretty easily, but I don’t really have the desire to.

When I was drinking I had a weird thing with numbers and dates and days. For a long time Monday would always be the day I stopped drinking, then it switched because I felt like the pressure of Monday was backfiring on me. So I would pick a date that I think would have special significance… like it mattered that I got sober on the 12th or the 18th, as if those numbers in and of themselves had some kind of special power to keep me sober.

When I failed to stop it was in part because the date wasn’t right and I would find a new date that I thought mattered. It wasn’t just the date of the day but the month too and how this coincided with the year as well. This stuff really mattered to me, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. No, obsessing. Turning it over and over in my mind. This is the insanity of addiction.

In the beginning of my recovery, counting days was really important to me. Building a consecutive stint of alcohol free days was something to focus on, something that I could hang on to and strive for. Always trying to beat my last attempt helped to give me fuel to fight this thing. Having goals to reach- especially 30 days, 50 days and 100 days, allowed me to feel successful and like any addict knows, this is crucial when you are so used to letting yourself down all the time.

But when my app stopped working I found it simply didn’t matter to me anymore. Enough time has gone by that single days are not my focus anymore- months are. And hopefully, I will feel the same way about years in time.

I am entering my forth season of sobriety. I quit drinking in mid-August, well into summer. That was a difficult time to quit as summer is usually a time of debauchery, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I was so miserable that it really didn’t matter what time of year it was.

Fall was a beautiful time to be in the beginning of my recovery. It was so damn gorgeous out and I experienced the beauty of my surroundings intensely. I was so moved by the changing colours of the leaves and trees, the fog, the crispness in the air, and the stillness in the woods without the tourists and crowds. It helped me to remember who I am without this addiction, that I am a creature of this earth and universe and so much more than my twisted thoughts.

Winter, my least favourite season, brought it’s own special challenges, holidays, and characteristic lows for me, but I got through it without a drink. Now, entering spring, it is getting warm out, green again, and the flowers are blooming. I sometimes feel the call of patios and happy hour drinks, but the clarity I feel in the mornings when the sun peaks through my curtains is too much to give up. I’ve written before about the illusion of the drink- it’s really hard to give up that feeling of anticipation for the first drink, but in reality that feeling is so fleeting it’s really not worth risking everything I’ve gained in sobriety.

I mean this in all honesty. And I never thought that I would be here. But my life is infinitely better for becoming alcohol free. It is still hard at times, and it’s tricky to put into words but I feel healthier. And not just physically. I feel healthier emotionally, spiritually and mentally too. I still have bad days and struggle with some negative thinking but I am oceans happier than I was when I was drinking. Things were dark when I was drinking. I didn’t like who I was because I was controlled by my addiction. I hid and lied about my drinking to my loved ones. I drank much more than I wanted to almost every single night. I had several terrible hangovers a week, was horribly dehydrated, I slept like shit, ate crap, and worst of all I felt like a fraud.

I was sick. And I’m not fully recovered- don’t know yet if that ever happens- but I don’t feel sick anymore. I have been taking anti-depressants on and off for about 8 years. And I am almost completely weaned off of them. And I feel really good. I don’t think they were having any effect on me anymore as I was drowning myself in alcohol and was extremely depressed. I have been a heavy/regular drinker for over 20 years so I am curious to see what my brain is like not on alcohol and not on anti-depressants. And yes, I am working with my doctor and weaning very very slowly 🙂

It has taken me a long time to figure out how to beat this thing. YEARS. I wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone. It is absolute hell. My advice to anyone struggling is to reach out reach out reach out. Keep trying keep learning keep working towards wellness. Do not give up and be willing to go outside of your comfort zone.

Really, we must be willing to get uncomfortable because it is our aversion to feeling things that are uncomfortable, whether that be anger, sadness, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, fear that drive us to our addictive behaviour. So the day we are willing to DO IT DIFFERENTLY than what our brain would have us do, we are making some headway.

I am filled with gratitude for this sober community and all of the people and tools that have supported me along the way. I am so thankful to have made it this far and experience life sober. I am not numbing myself anymore and I feel wide awake. I used to want to disappear sometimes and now all I want is to live my life to the fullest. Life feels like it is wide open for the taking. Things feel possible in a way I couldn’t perceive them before.

I climbed a mountain the other day, by myself. It was a beautiful sun filled day. I meditated when I got to the top. It felt a little cliche but it felt so good at the same time. There is a quiet confidence and peace developing in me. I feel like I am growing into myself, becoming more me, if that makes sense. Like I have always been there but have just been too messed up to fully realize myself.

I am excited about life again, and the darkness is fading away. Recovery is sweet.

Blessings.

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it works. if you work it.

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My last post I wrote I had been struggling internally. I’ve always loved this quote- “the mind is its own place and in itself, can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven” (John Milton).

I was suffering under the weight of my own thoughts. This week something has shifted. While my time of the month can be partly to blame for my mental state, so too was my lack of focus on my meditation practice. Over the last week i have returned to my practice, have been reading a lot of buddhist teachings/psychology, and I attended a “fifth precept” meeting which is a blend of buddhist and 12 step. I have also exercised a few times and been eating better.

Wouldn’t you know it, I feel better. I am working my “program” and it is working for me.

Today I had the feeling that I am truly in recovery. I am healing. I can feel it happening. I realized this week that I no longer punish myself in ways that I used to by setting so many rules for myself. When I was drinking I used to have so many rules! Of course, I broke them all the time. Constantly. And I hated myself for it. I felt so out of control, so undisciplined. So I would make more rules. And continually beat myself up.

Today discipline comes more from a place of self-love instead of self-loathing. I do things that are healthy or good for me because it feels good, and because I am learning to love and respect myself and treat myself well.

I listened to a great podcast today at the gym. It is from Josh Korda, who is the buddhist teacher at Dharmapunx in New York City. He is a recovering addict with 19 years sobriety. He has masses of podcasts, which are not all about addiction but he definitely makes them relate. This one is called “You are not damaged” and I found it very helpful.

He also has a video series on addiction, which is pretty cool.

http://www.tricycle.com/online-retreats/making-friends-your-demons-and-hungry-ghosts-buddhist-tools-recovery/causes-and-cond

Enjoy! In loving kindness!