I can recall, with some clarity, the moments before sobriety where I looked to the sky for answers, or direction. When I was drinking, I usually looked to God, or my higher power, or whatever creator there may have been, to curse them for the life that I had been given – or to wonder what I had done to deserve so much pain. I often swore at the sky, wondering when I would get a break in life – when things would turn around for me, and I would stop feeling the blinding punishment that I was sure was being inflicted upon me for some reason.
In sobriety, on nights like tonight, I sit and reflect in the dark of my car with the chill of the Eastern spring on my fingertips and I get goosebumps – not because I am cold. I get goosebumps because I am filled with, overwhelmed with gratitude. I speak the words aloud these days, thanking God for my life – my sobriety, the daily blessings that I see, finally, with sober eyes and a sober heart. I looked to the sky tonight, unable to contain my gratitude, and thanked God profusely, in my own weird little prayer, for the ability to feel and to be blessed with all that I am and mostly, for not being alone anymore.
I go to meetings regularly. Lately, I’ve stepped it up a little because I am going on a vacation soon and want to make sure my sobriety tools are all sharp and ready should I need them. I forgot, for awhile there in the complacent busyness of everyday life, just how important the meetings are to me. Tonight reminded me, as it often does, just when I needed it most.
The support that I get from the women in my home group is incredible. Women who didn’t know me before two years ago – had never heard my name, had never seen my face and had no obligation to get to know me. They had nothing to gain from knowing me, or caring if I got sober or not – but THEY DID. In the beginning, I was kind of resentful, as I found reasons to be regularly, because they weren’t attentive enough or because I could sense a dismissive tone in their voice when they spoke after I shared or when I sat in a room and still felt alone. Now I know that I was choosing those feelings and I was isolating myself, because that was the only way that I knew to be. But I thank God that those women were patient – they loved me in only the ways that I could accept, from a distance that was safe for me and comfortable for me. No one pressured me or judged me – they responded with genuine love and compassion. They gave me, absolutely freely, everything that they had learned in their own journeys and wished, with absolute sincerity, that it could have some meaning for me too. I only know this, for sure, because as my sober life becomes a more regular, natural state of mind and being for me, my heart continues to swell and open. It has opened to the idea that even though the only thing that I may have in common with some of these people is the fact that we are afflicted with the same disease, that is quite enough. I have been encouraged, every single time I see these women, in ways that I needed but never knew.
I chose to isolate for a long time in my final years of drinking, becoming a daily drinker and convincing myself absolutely that my most happy place was alone with a bottle. I really, truly thought that the feeling I enjoyed most was drunken solitude. I suppose that was a sort of survival mechanism for me, because it was all I did every day and I could not, hard as I tried, change my life – so I best enjoy the one I had chosen for myself. Luckily for me, I was able to find a room that housed some of the most kind, giving, twisted, damaged, strange, beautiful, beautiful women in recovery that I could have ever imagined. I truly never thought I would feel that way but tonight, I couldn’t help it. Simple words of encouragement, kindness shared in the form of support or hugs or baking a cake to celebrate someone’s milestone – just showing up, sharing their experience, strength and hope – it is monumental. It is life changing, earth shattering, important work in the world of recovery and I am so, so grateful that I have found a little corner of the world, in this city, where I finally feel like I belong.
Not 100%. Not absolutely. Not all the time.
But in terms of what I want out of life, which is sobriety, contentment and serenity, I belong with these women who want the same things. I am learning to love and to be myself in the best way possible. I am learning, everyday, how to live life as a sober person and damnit, that is NOT easy. But luckily, I am not alone. And I can’t describe to you the wonderful goosebumps that gives me.