It’s one of those words that I always had in my arsenal, always whipped out when it benefited me most and not always in an unsuccessful way. When I was an aggressive, wild teenager, it didn’t hurt that I had a reminder tattooed on my mid-back to ‘HOPE’. I needed it then, and I need it now.
Sometimes it’s hard and other times it’s easier. When the sun is shining on you, it’s easy to imagine another day of sunshine. When the clouds move in though, and the days are dreary for weeks on end, I begin to doubt that the sun will ever shine it’s warmth on me again – that feeling, that’s hope slipping away from me. I can’t hang on to it by myself, I’ve realized. I have an alcoholic mind that thrives on this fact. It waits until I feel the darkest, the most alone, the most hopeless, and it slips in there. Ever cunning, baffling and powerful. If I am not careful, the hopelessness that I feel for a moment can give way to a though that sounds something like “Remember how easily this hopelessness went away with a few drinks?” Luckily, the most recent times that thoughts like this have dared spring their little annoying hands flailing in front of my face, I’ve got the tools to acknowledge what they really are. They are thoughts – they are not me. I may be an alcoholic, but I am an alcoholic who chooses for today to be in recovery and a thought like that one will not be what derails me today. And I don’t have to do it alone.
I am lucky, I like to think, to be able to be a part (however small a part that may be) of a recovery community in my hometown. That seems like an almost fantastical statement for me to make, for if you had asked me about a recovery community in my hometown just two short years ago, I would have choked back my laughter and rolled my eyes. Not a chance, I would have thought, not a chance in hell. But I was blessed with this gift and I can’t take it for granted.
The first seed of hope was planted when I heard from other young women, just like me, who had found sobriety. They were living happy lives, not easy or perfect lives, but they were happy – and they were SOBER. I was amazed, but I was also coming out of a cloud of years of drinking, so sometimes in the early days of sobriety, I would catch myself rubbing my eyes and wondering “Is this for real?”. I almost couldn’t believe it was possible. But it was. and it gave me my first, real, most powerful dose of hope in my life.
There is sobriety out there for you, if you want it. There is a way to live a life that isn’t drowning in booze and waiting for the next drink. There is so much more to life, and I swear, it’s really, really beautiful. My hope today comes from seeing a new person walk into a meeting, or hearing a newly sober young woman reflect on the choices she can now make confidently. I am hopeful because today, I can hold my head up high and look the world in the eye, just like they told me I would be able to. There have been so many miraculous things that have happened in my life since I got sober. I haven’t won the lottery, or gotten the job of my dreams. I haven’t made any huge life changes (other than getting sober!) and I haven’t obtained any worldly possessions outside of the norm. What I have gained is the knowledge that none of that would matter, even if I had. I have gained something monumentally more valuable – something that I never knew I even wanted so badly. Today, I have hope. I am energized and encouraged and comforted by the hope that there is more of this beautiful life available for me, if I continue to stay sober, just for today.
One day at a time, I remain hopeful.