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Sobriety Taught Me to Honor Myself
When I made the decision to stop drinking over a year ago, I never imagined that sobriety would literally transform my life. I went from a place of complete breakdown; feeling worthless, hopeless, fearful, and paralyzed…to a place of feeling so empowered, capable and strong. My life did NOT magically get easier, but my perspective of the challenges changed. I learned to breathe, slow down, trust, and most importantly, to be resilient. I began to meet the challenges and work alongside them instead of hiding and numbing… wishing they would just disappear. I decided that if I wanted things to change I would be responsible for making it happen and I would show up each and every day ready and willing to do the work.
I didn’t feel positive or optimistic every day this past year, but it didn’t matter. I held onto the vision of the kind of life I wanted, the kind of person I truly desired to be and I never let go of this vision. I held on as tight as I could to my sobriety and trusted that this would be enough to get me through anything. I started doing more of what brought me comfort and joy. I began to chose myself before anyone else… setting boundaries around my needs and making sure to check in with myself daily.
I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed the last few days. The kind of overwhelm that just knocks you out… exhausted, depressed, anxious, irritable, a loss of appetite followed by an insatiable hunger. Am I not eating enough? Eating too much? Am I not drinking enough water? Too much coffee? Not enough sleep? Working out too much, or too little? It’s too easy to be carried away with thoughts.. searching for a solution to a problem I haven’t even identified. Do I push through or curl up in a ball? A fine line between plummeting further under by inaction or accidentally forcing myself further under with too much productivity. I know it’s about balance. The brain fog is making it all extra hard to decipher.
And so, I just do what I know. I wake in the morning and make my bed. I breathe through my kids tantrums and pause every few minutes throughout the day to check in with myself. What is around me? What feelings are in my body? What do I smell? Taste? Hear? I write and I write and I write some more. I sip my coffee slowly and prepare my tea even slower. I pour the epsom salt into the bath and sit until the water no longer brings comfort. I get lost in washing the dishes; there are always dirty dishes to be washed…. scrubbing, rinsing, drying. The repetitive movement slows the thoughts and gives me space to breathe into them. I go for long drives and take long walks in the forest. I move my body and scream into pillows. I turn the music up and sing as loud as I can. I eat too much dark chocolate and cry rivers worth of tears.
And as I lie in bed at night, I congratulate myself on feeling my way through another day. I may not have solved all my problems today but, allowing myself to feel all of my feelings is a fucking super power I’ve cultivated through sobriety. I don’t need each day to feel magical, I just have to keep showing up. There’s always a breakdown before a major shift and so I do believe in the good things coming. I trust in myself. I surrender to this moment here and I feel my way into the next. And I’m so grateful to be alive and to be feeling, whatever those feelings may be.
I once thought, wished, hoped and prayed that sobriety would save me… but what I’ve come to find in the past fourteen months being alcohol free, is that sobriety didn’t save me… I saved ME.
Sobriety was the tool I used to see, feel and think, clearly. The fuel I needed to keep me going. The crutch held beside me in times I felt I couldn’t go on. The catalyst for joining BOOM and finding the community and resources I needed to keep me on this path. The teacher I needed to guide me in learning how to value myself, my relationships, and my boundaries.
But the power of transformation itself, lies within me! Within you! Within all of us!
Being sober is now a part of who I am. A part I’m grateful for and will cherish and nurture always, but there’s so much more to me. Every day I practice honoring myself. I balance the responsibilities I have for myself, my family and the world around me, carefully and with intention. I’m finding myself, and it feels really good!
Sobriety doesn’t promise things will always be easy.
If I were to give myself any advice at the beginning it would be this; trust the process. Even if you don’t feel like today is making a difference… each and every moment adds up over time. Just for today, do something you would imagine yourself to be doing if you were solid in your sobriety. How would you act? What would you be doing one year from now? Do that! Be that! Just for today, imagine the type of person you’d like to be, and be that person as much as you can. Start small. Stay consistent. Take notice of how these seemingly small steps will bring you closer and closer to yourself and toward actualizing all of your goals and dreams.
The perspective change I’ve had on alcohol is POWERFUL and attainable and is what happens when life is just so damn GOOD without alcohol, that you actually never want to go back. I never want to have to get sober again ( I know one sip with put me right back where I was) and that fear, focus, determination, COMMITMENT, love, respect and honor of my body and mind is enough to never make me second guess my decision to live a sober life.
But how the hell do you get here when you are struggling?! When you can barely make it a day? When the cravings feel so powerful that you don’t know what else to do but drink?
Here’s what has worked for me to get sober and stay free ;
Slow down and nurture yourself like you’re a baby!!!
Eat. Eat frequently and eat foods that bring you joy.
Create! Whether it’s art, singing, dancing, writing, baking, cooking- it doesn’t even have to be any good…. just make something with your body!
Connect. Get on BOOM and write and read… even if you don’t have much to say-it helps to be here, around all of us on the same shared path! more reading How to Use the BOOM Community for Support to Stop Drinking Alcohol or Just Slow Down
SLEEP! Please prioritize sleeping… our bodies and minds need it more than most people think… and being tired will make the cravings that much more unbearable. more reading 6 Months Sober – Self Discipline as Self Care
SEE the cravings for what they really are. There are some really great posts here about what addiction really is and what it does to our brains. more reading Alcohol, Brain Chemistry, Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity
OPEN your mind to what is possible, stay curious and stay motivated. What would you like to do with your new time and energy? What could your life look like if you got rid of this thing that’s been holding you back? It’s ok to dream and to dream big, it’s only been the alcohol keeping you small! Can you do one small thing today that you would do if you were the person you really wanted to be?
Begin to feel comfortable with feeling. Feel like crying, cry! Feel like screaming, yell a bit! Feel angry and like you’re going to explode, punch a pillow until your arms are too heavy to punch anymore. Feeling is GOOD, necessary and the more you open your heart to the “not so great” feelings, the more space you have to feel happiness, contentment, joy, gratitude and love.
LISTEN to your body closely. Is that really an alcohol craving or are you hungry, thirsty, tired, stressed, overwhelmed, excited… etc. there is ALWAYS something deeper! Our bodies don’t crave poison… the poison tricks us into believing that’s what we are craving…. get to know your body and mind and be a detective… if you can’t figure it out or are too overwhelmed to even try… NO WORRIES, wait the craving out; it NEVER stays forever! more reading Breaking Free of Cravings for Alcohol with Mindfulness
CHANGE the way you speak to yourself. Easier said than done but if you can get in the habit of speaking kindly to yourself, through repetition and even sometimes force lol you WILL see and feel a difference. Acknowledge how you’re feeling, take a deep breath and say something supportive to yourself. Pep talks all day long! “You’re doing great! That craving was so bad, I felt like I was going to give in, but I made it another minute… see I can do this! I am powerful and I can do anything I set my mind to”!!! How do you feel saying this to yourself??? Try it out! more reading Words Have Power to Create and Destroy – Tell Your Story Wisely
You have all the power within you. Allow sobriety to hold your hand until YOU can harness that power. You are worthy. You are resilient and you can do anything you set your mind to.
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