150 days. that is how long i have been sober.
to admit addiction is brave. to commit to recovery is courage. to cope with it every day is survival.
humans are curious, we experiment. we are allured by drug culture. we spiral in despair but we also stand tall in the light. we heal. we relapse. we endure. we recover.
for twenty years i have been precariously (and carelessly) curious. i’ve experimented and spiralled. engulfed by the booze blues, i lost sight of the light.
but that enduring despair ended five months ago.
from the depths of the water a friend reached her hand out and made me realize it was time to gaze out at the beautiful horizon awaiting me beyond the silver lining. she has been and continues to be my absolute true north. a constant star; a ophelia compass helping me find my way.
sobriety is confronting.
it is teaching me to be deeply human. in learning to be such, i’m discovering how to heal through personal development — growing up, growing through. as the musical composer jason robert brown says, “it is often the case that personal growth leads to healing just as much as healing leads to personal growth.”
in other words, sometimes we have to protect ourselves from ourselves. i reckon that by protecting myself from my inner black swan i’m allowing my true self to flutter to the surface.
as confronting as it may be, what life renovation doesn’t bring a new blueprint or architecture of the self? this particular renovation is teaching me to navigate my emotions. it is challenging me to pause, exhale and cope. it is opening me up to new alternatives and behaviours. it is creating space around myself, enabling me to reconnect with people around me who were rightfully in a position to leave me along the way. it is calming my contradictions without compromising my free spirit.
in fact, i’ve never felt freer.
everyone carries burdens around with them. i believe the thing dad that people find so easy to relate to is that he was willing to expose his most cumbersome burdens, his most consuming darkness. he wasn’t afraid to go through the fire and say, ‘i fell down. i’ve made mistakes. i’m weak. i hurt.’ but in doing so, he gained some sort of defining strength. every moment of darkness enables him to better see the light.
-john carter cash on the death of his father, johnny cash
i have come to acknowledge and accept that with each year of life we are meant to endure more; learn more; love more; and sadly grieve more. life has baggage and burden but it also has beauty and bliss. but booze blurs the bliss and the burden becomes an unnecessary drama of self-induced demise.
perhaps one of the brightest revelations that has come with sobriety has been the shifting of a new conversation about a new perspective. in rereading my journal, i had scribbled down the following, “the strength you need to fight — the grace you need to stand down.” i wish i had attributed these words because 150 days later they still resonate with me as i continue my fight. as i continue to stand down … and stand up for my self.
in standing up for my self — and my self-worth — i had to naively and vulnerary admit that the coping mechanisms i had been practicing for thirty-four years just weren’t working anymore (if they in fact ever had). in typical aries fashion, i stubbornly convinced myself that i was mindful enough to change my behaviour by simply changing my social routine that brings me enlightenment — cooking and jazz. quite the contrary: i cooked less and the jazz was drowned out by bar ballads, which turned into the same tearful hangover, the same nonsensical apology. the same shame … the same “i don’t like myself” game.
time decides who you meet in life, your heart decides who you want in your life and your behaviour decides who stays in your life.
-ziad k. abdelnour
and then it happened. the darkest of dark moments. the happenstance that shook me to my core. alarmed those that i love and scared me to a mortified low so deep that i didn’t surface from beneath the covers for three days. it is unlikely that i ever keep anything from you, dear reader; however, this part of the story remains untold. in an anonymous flurry i just ask you to trust me. like i trusted myself in the aftermath of it all to decide that i wanted my life to work. i wanted to live. i wanted to shine in the light once again. and so, from that dark second 150 days ago my behaviour has been deciding the fate of my life, whether i would stay in it or not.
i chose to leave the darkness behind. i chose sobriety. even if living in the light meant it would be scarier, harder. life after all is a blunder. i just didn’t want to fumble drunkenly through it anymore.
life moves fast. as much as you can learn from your history, you have to move forward.
so, in the speed of it all — between the drugs and the alcohol — i started to study my own history. i sought the courage to move forward. i reached out to acknowledge what happened. any feelings of fear only made me stronger. and they still do as i explore a life of sobriety. as i continue to rescue myself from myself.
so, after 150 days i’ve decided that i am not afraid to go through the fire and say, ‘i feel down. i’ve made mistakes. i’m weak. i hurt.’ i will walk the sober line and even in the darkness, i won’t forget to shine.