I haven’t cried in awhile.
When I was drinking I cried often – mostly because I felt hopeless. I cried often to myself, when I was alone and looking back now, it was almost always out of sheer desperation. I was stuck, confused and alone. When you have no answers and no options, it can seem like life holds no potential. Change wasn’t a real word to me at all – not a real possibility in my life.
I have always remembered the very first time in my life that I cried happy tears. My mom had gone on a two week (what felt like two year) long vacation to Mexico. I was probably ten years old and my aunt was charged with taking care of us for the week. Her style of child-rearing was quite different than my funny, caring and carefree Mom. My aunt was short, strict and she pulled my hair with intent when she put it into a ponytail in the morning before school. When my Mom returned through the parted doors at the arrival gate that afternoon, she got down to the ground and hugged me tight. The tears poured out of me with absolutely no effort. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, joy and pure, pure love. I was so genuinely and absolutely happy she was home, with me. That moment of unadulterated joy stayed with me, deep within my bones, ever since.
I often referenced this moment when talking to others about how great it felt to feel joy – love – happiness, totally and fully, but the truth is – I don’t think I ever cried really happy tears since that moment. I referred back to it with nostalgia and pride because it was the only example in my life that I could recall of pure joy (and maybe relief). It was only 6 or 7 short years after that moment that I began my journey of escape. I numbed out the painful and difficult feelings of my life, not knowing that they would numb out any potential good feelings right along with them. That was the last taste of true, sober relief I would taste until shortly after my twenty eighth birthday.
I hear it often, with varying degrees of effect, the topic of gratitude. I know what it is now, in a way that I never did before. I was grateful before, sure, but only to the morning for showing up, granting me another day of breath. Some days I was grateful for that and others I was resentful for it. I only truly felt like I was happy when I was absent from the reality of the world, when I was out of touch with the things that I couldn’t handle. Freedom from the enslavement of life on life’s terms was the only thing I ever felt grateful for because I was too afraid to feel at all.
Today I got some really great news – a result of productive action on my part, but mostly a result of hard work within the program and the guidance of God as I make the decisions that I know are right for me. I also had a productive day with my sponsor, confronted some fears and decided to take a step towards moving through.. the steps. I committed to building an honest foundation in my sobriety and thanked God for the ability to make that decision, sincerely. I recognize today that I am lucky – my life today is an absolute miracle. I am grateful that I have the ability and the willingness to accept the changes that are happening as a result of my commitment to the program. I am thankful for the life that has been offered to me by the fellowship and by the presence of a Higher Power in my life. I am often overwhelmed with gratitude that I was given the willingness, when I asked for it, to open my mind and to be able to break down the barriers that kept me from this beautiful life for so many years before now. I know that the consistency and longevity of this joy, my sobriety, relies solely on my participation. I am offered the gifts of freedom, serenity and peace but I have to do the footwork. I hope that I don’t forget this feeling.
The Promises – they are really coming true.
They were the first thing that I clung to in the rooms, when I heard them listed at the end of my first meeting. Every single one of them were things that I didn’t even know that I wanted so badly, in my life. It was like a list of promises uniquely and specifically tailored to me and my desires – they were the opposite of everything that existed in my tense, drunk life before I got there.
Today I cried, not because I was overwhelmed with fear or another emotion that I couldn’t handle or contain.. but because I was truly, honestly grateful. I have seen and been witness to the fruition of these promises within my own life. Each one is slowly but surely coming true for me. Each time I think that life can’t get any better, that this must be the best that sobriety can feel – I am surprised by the wonders that are brought to my life.
Today I cried – quiet, warm, fearless and comforting tears of joy.
I cried happy tears, again.
For that, and so much more,
I am grateful.