Day 169 - 25 Years...
Today marks 25 years of living sober for me. 25 fucking years. I can’t believe it. I had no idea when I started this journey so many years ago that I would still be sober today. Other than breathing, I do not think there is anything else that I have done for 25 years in a row, without fail. Well, I have failed a lot over the past 25 years. A LOT! I mean like every single day. But not at staying sober. I have done that 100% perfectly for 9125 days in row! Pretty fucking cool.
It is good to remember what I was like back then.
I was hard. I was trying to be tough to cover over all the vulnerable parts of me because I thought that is how I could best protect myself. What I have learned is that it is best to lay bare the vulnerable parts, it is in their exposure that they become strong yet flexible.
I was a liar. I was so afraid to be myself - couldn’t do that because I didn’t really have a self. I was just a walking collection of the stories I told about myself. I lied to keep you away and me feeling safe. I could not be counted on. I could not be authentic.
I was scared. All the fucking time. I was afraid of people, economic insecurity, love, hate, racism, sexism, men, women, children, politics, my family, friends. I walked around pretending to fear nothing, and realizing now that I feared everything and everyone all the time.
I was broken. I had a lot of trauma that I allowed to fester and worsen over time. I was afraid to look at all the broken parts of me. Afraid to address the darkness within. I was trying desperately to prove that I was ok with all that had happened, when I was not ok at all. I behaved in ways because of the brokenness which only led me to places where I would experience more trauma. I was just layer upon layer of trauma responses.
I was fun. But I was fun tinged with danger. No one knew what I was going to do next. I was the life of the party until I snapped then I was fighting the largest man in the room for no apparent reason whatsoever. I would start bar room brawls and upend tables and chairs. I was a loose canon, predictably unpredictable in my outbursts.
I was selfish. I was a giver only to take. I used giving to manipulate people. I only really cared about myself and my wishes. I wanted for myself all the time. I was not interested in you unless you could give me what I wanted. I used people. I hated myself but I was the only person that I really thought about. I didn’t think much of her, she was just all I thought about.
I was a mess. I walked around trying to live an upstanding life, which led me to living a double life. One that was full of shame, regret, remorse, sadness, despair. I was a walking shitshow. My solutions worse than the circumstances I found myself in. I seemed to always be in crisis, always in a mild or not so mild state of panic. I needed you to believe that I was ok, so that I could pretend for another hour or day that I was ok.
I was delusional. I believed that the way I was living was good. I believed the way I was living was the only way to live. I believed that somehow I was going to end up getting all the things I wanted in life by lying, cheating and stealing. I believed that I could pretend. I had magical thinking that was only loosely based in reality. I walked around burning my life down all the time but pretending like it didn’t hurt and I was good and well and ok.
I was alone. I could not let you in. Incapable of forming any kind of true partnership with another human being. I was surrounded by people all the time because I could not be alone but I was always and forever alone.
I was delivered to the jumping off place. I could not imagine my life without alcohol or with it anymore. I could not drink enough to make the panic and dread go away. I was more less always insanely drunk. I was unable to function in my life anymore. I went on a 7 day bender in Savannah, Georgia. I came home, the week before a blur. Continued the party, to arrive at my final, last (hopefully) day of drinking. The night ended with me starting a fight with a hockey team, being thrown (quite literally) out of a bar, coming to the next day not at home, hung over, black eye, busted lip and completely demoralized. I hated me so much that morning. I hated everything about me. I knew that I could not go on one more minute living like I was. I wanted to die.
As I was sitting in the backseat of a car being driven to where my car was, I had this moment of clarity. This one tiny yet monumental moment where I heard this voice inside my head - it was clear and true and said the following:
ERIN, HOW MANY TIMES ARE YOU GOING TO DO THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND EXPECT SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO HAPPEN?
I do not know why I listened that day. I do not know why that question cut me to the core. I do not know why that moment out of all the other moments was the time that I listened. I just know that I knew that I had to do something different that day. My life depended upon it. So I did.
My whole life changed that day. I took the first step in becoming the person I am today.
Who is that?
I am less hard. I can cry now when I am sad. I can be intimate with people I care about. I am much more soft and squishy. I have found immense strength in the softness.
I am not a liar. This is not to say I never lie because that would be a lie. But I tell the truth most of the time. About little things, about big things. When I am scared. When I want you to think that I am cooler than I am. I just tell you the truth and somehow trust that it is all going to be ok.
I am less scared. I still have fears but I know what they are. I have inventoried them and I know all the ways my fears fuck up my life and the lives of others. I have come to know my fears so well that they no longer run my life. I am able to own my fear and in so doing, have been set free.
I am less broken. I still have all the same issues as I did on this day 25 years ago. However, I have turned toward the brokenness, I have come to know all the places that are marred and scarred so well that I can see the deeply worn groves they caused so well that I can, often times, avoid falling into the tracks of my past. On the rare occasion I can’t, I don’t spend a long time down there. I have tools to get me out.
I AM fun. I mean really fun today. I laugh a lot. I enjoy my life. I have created a life that is full of love, laughter, light and FUN! I have the best times now...way better than I ever did when I was drinking. I am fun and free.
I am less selfish. I have learned to give to others for fun and for free. I no longer keep score. I am always the first thing I think about. I am not sure that will ever change. But I am capable of seeing this and then doing something different. Something other than what I want or believe. I can be of service to others, and that is the best use of my life. It is the fastest way to happiness I have ever found.
I am still a mess. But I am way less messy. I am not walking around all the time fucking up my life. People can count on me today. I do what I say I am going to do most of the time. I am reliable. I like who I am and am capable of sharing myself with others in a healthy, safe way. I have edges and boundaries. I can be alone and not feel lonely.
I am no longer delusional. I see the truth. I see the path. I know which way is up. I know that my solutions can still be fucked up and they are best run by another person before implementation. I have a core now that I can return to over and over again. I have becoem a person that I trust, love and can believe in. I know who I am and that is based more on faith and spirit than ego.
I am no longer alone. I have met so many people on this path. So many people to trudge the road of happy destiny with. I am single by choice but alone never. I have a God that I can do business with. A faith that works. People in my life that matter to me and that I matter too. I have so many people to walk in the sunlight of the spirit with...I am blessed to be loved and too love so many.
Today I am filled with gratitude.
Today, I am grateful for
25 years of living the miracle one day at a time
loving me even with all my defects
having a plan for living that works, it really does
faith in a higher power
tools to use when I falter
a design for living
friendship and fellowship
all the people who walk this path with me, most especially my family
the ability to live comfortably in my own skin
loving what is today
becoming a person who is useful, kind and loving
living a charmed life because 25 years ago when this door opened I walked through it and sat down, listened and did what those strangers said to do.
Today I am grateful for it all. Every moment sublime. Every tear I have cried because it was in my willingness to cry those tears that I gained access to every laugh I have ever had. It was in my willingness to turn toward the pain that I found a way out. Thank you. Thank you for showing me a life worth living. You know who you are. May God bless you and keep you...always.