I am not a gardener, and frankly, most of what I have attempted to grow has not survived. Growing a new life is hard. Gardeners must begin with the end in mind. It starts with a seed that germinates quietly out of sight, and as it grows, gains glorious momentum.
The seed that started my new life was planted in the dark quiet of early morning.
I turned over in bed around 4 am, trying to piece together the night before. Thinking hard about what might have been said that I could not unsay, there was the instant sting of regret that washed over me and settled on my tired being. I knew that morning that I would try again. Learning to live without alcohol would be hard, but living with it was becoming harder. I would probably fail, but I would try.
I planted my seed and nursed my remorse and exhaustion.
I remember vividly, after multiple attempts to quit drinking, around day 4 or 5 of sobriety, feeling like I was stuck in a perpetual loop. Trying to navigate life without alcohol and embracing complete abstinence suddenly seemed extreme. It appeared more logical to indulge in a glass of wine and attempt to quit again the following day. Sadly, I found myself unable to progress beyond this stage. Time and time again, without fail, I would give in and resume drinking.
This time however
I forced myself to power through.
What was different this time? I remember logging on to BOOM ( my community app) and writing. I was “itchy” and felt uneasy and like a little relief from the stressful week would have been helpful.
What was differnt this time was that the community stood by me and reminded me that it is not easy to maintain this life without alcohol that I had committed to. It is hard. You must say no to yourself over and over. You. Just. Don’t. Drink. You have to power through no matter what because that is the only way that the seed begins to put down roots.
As the seed germinates and grows, what was once just an invisible seed in the ground grows into a beautiful exhibit of potential. That is much the process of learning to live without alcohol. This is sober momentum. We must tend to it like gardeners. If we don’t, we won’t grow.
When you’re in the early days of learning to live your new life without alcohol it might feel safer to wilt and die, but please don’t! Growing a new life is hard. Stick your roots down with purpose. Decide to continue and see where this growth will lead you.
I remember a tiny glimmer of understanding where this might take me. Knowing that I had made it past one of the hard parts – week one. It was a flash of the thought…What else is possible? Is there more to life? What is waiting for me? This was when my sober momentum really started to take hold. Maybe, just maybe I can keep going. Yet, even as I was starting to get my bearings, I was also feeling raw and vulnerable.
I imagine that this is like the green that begins to peak out of the dirt. Just willing to poke itself out to feel the sun and be refreshed by the water. Aware that at any moment the withering could begin – it still opens ever so slightly to unfold the future.
If this seed happens to be your alcohol-free journey, you might feel exposed or frightened as you begin to peek out and sense your vulnerability in this new terrain. You are no longer hidden, from yourself, your emotions or from others. Exposed to the heat and elements, it might be tempting to quit this new growth process but, with momentum you start to feel like you have this. You can do this!
Maybe this is where you reach out to someone and talk about what you are going through. Maybe this is where you journal or begin to feel the presence of hope. Whatever it is, it is slightly different for everyone. It can be encouraging, it can be scary. This is how you gain momentum.
It is powerful and forward driven, it is raw and filled with emotion. You begin to experience the sun in its glory. You feel revived, alive, and awake. Each day your roots grow deeper and you can feel the fullness and weight of your leaves and stalk growing and bursting forth. The rain of time and sleep allow your roots to grab hold of nutrients and encouragement and you start to feel more cemented in your process of growth. It is a beautiful time and you are elated that you are finally here, growing and resting in the glory of momentum and growth. Waking up and looking to the sun as a seedling, confident in your journey and path is a beautiful feeling. If you have managed to set your root system down and risk opening up it feels and it IS brave. This is also the time you have to watch out for the pests………….
The pests of shame, remorse, regret and self-hatred can begin to pick away at your progress. Your vigilance and protection can shore you up. How do you build a fortress against them? What do you need to say to yourself today to remember how far you have come? What lies or memories do you need to talk back to? Remind yourself of how courageous you are! Gently lift your eyes to sun and speak to yourself. You are an overcomer, you are not your past, you can do hard things! YOU ARE DOING HARD THINGS!
Momentum is wonderful, but even momentum needs to be nourished and encouraged. It is easy to get overconfident and forget that we are tender and growing, and that growth requires some effort. The feelings of momentum may fade, so we have to tend to them- to work the soil and feed them so they don’t dry out and wither. There is such beauty in growth, but it is a vulnerable time. Keep going. Don’t stop. What started as a seed will end with a beautiful flower if you will tend to the momentum within you. I think I will go outside now and water my plants.
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