Today’s post is an extra special one for me. On Monday, November 11, 2013 I will be by the Grace of God 14 years clean and sober. That’s 14 wonderful years free of drug and alcohol abuse, free from emotional abuse, free from bondage of self.
Whenever my sober anniversary comes around I always think back at what my life was like before that fateful november day when I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. There was no more relief in the drinking, I couldn’t escape any longer. I had just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship (ok I was thrown out of the relationship) and went on a drinking binge of all binges. I put my safety and life in danger many times during those months and I simply just didn’t want to go on any longer.
I started drinking at a young age, I even remember my first taste, I was 6 it was a beer and I thought it was disgusting. I drank during my teen years like most of my peers, nothing out of the ordinary, though I did drink till I got drunk but I could go without a drink for weeks, months or even years. Once I turned 17 things changed. I fell into drugs and drinking and drinking turned into my first love. I won’t lie, I had some great times for sure especially in the early years and yes there were some ups and downs but I still loved the bottle. Drugs took a back seat, they weren’t my passion, alcohol was. As the years and my drinking progressed, I was getting worse and worse and so was my health. I had esophagus problems, liver problems, living problems. I quit my job to drink full time, work was getting in the way or so I told myself. Meanwhile I was living with someone who drank like I did and we all know how that ended.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Many of you who follow my blog know that I went into treatment for 6 months in an in-house treatment facility. At first I thought I would go for 30 days and get some rest, I had pneumonia, I was exhausted, I was sick and I needed a break… I mostly needed a break from me. I went through a really dark period before going to treatment and maybe one day I’ll be able to share that with you but not today.
I lived in this treatment facility with 9 to 12 women throughout the six months. I was the first graduate, those that came before me had fallen before their treatment was over. There were others who graduated after me but fell. I feel blessed and lucky that I have stayed clean and sober. I had made friends, friends I still have today. It’s funny how I wanted to run from myself, get some rest and try not to drink for awhile. Instead I found myself, got some rest and have remained sober these last 14 years.
Was there temptation along the way? Yes, 2 years into my sobriety I was living with a man who to this day has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. He was a few weeks sober when we met, though I was told he had long term sobriety. Almost 2 years into our relationship he relapsed hard and I considered for a brief 15 minutes to join him. He was asleep on our couch as his drugs and alcohol laid out on our kitchen table and I thought how easy it would be to join him but I had just celebrated 2 years of sobriety and a little voice inside of me simply did not want to risk that I may not be able to stop again. So I called AA and went to a meeting and stayed sober. What happened to the guy? He’s still out there drinking, drugging and struggling… I say a prayer for him every single night.
There but for the grace of God, go I…
Now is the time to celebrate, I celebrate the fact that I was once broken and today I am whole. I am no longer obsessed with the thought of drinking, I am no longer thirsty, I no longer want to hide from myself and others.
In these last 14 years I’ve had ups and downs but I can handle them and even if something is off or too much, I don’t feel the need to drink. Life today is lots of fun, I feel great about myself and all that I’ve accomplished and I still continue to grow. I am very different from that young woman who I used to be who suffered for years and just wanted to destroy herself. You can’t imagine how much I’ve changed. Those that knew me then would never have bet on Robyn getting sober, much less staying sober. I did have to cut some people out of my life, I did it in order to survive. I chose me.
I choose me every day, I choose to pick my battles, I try to do what’s right, I live an honest life, I rely on a higher power who I call God. I’m quite happy actually and on the days I’m not, I work on it, I use the tools and get right minded.
Thank you for reading this post today, it means a lot to me and if there is something you’d like to share, you can either hit the reply button on the email I sent to you, you can post a comment below or click on the “Let’s talk” Box on the bottom right. I’m pretty much an open book and would love to know if I can be of service to you and remember…
To thine own self be true…
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
~Neale Donald Walsch
I actually believe this, I’ve seen it happen with myself and with friends, yet it’s still a struggle to get out of the comfort zone. You see as long as I’m in the comfort zone I know what to expect, nothing changes much which in itself can be very comforting. We even get used to bad situations in the comfort zone.
This was my experience right before I got sober, I lived with a man who drank, we were both heavy drinkers and our relationship was volatile to say the least. I stayed because in spite of our rocky relationship I knew what to expect. By the grace of God he ended up leaving me after 5 years for another woman he had met one night in a bar. I was heartbroken, I was quickly thrown out of my home and out of my comfort zone (as negative as that was).
I continued to drink hard but the drinking just didn’t seem to fix the heartbreak, misery and fear that enveloped me. I decided it was time to get sober even if it was just for a short time as I had developed pneumonia and I was exhausted from all the drinking and partying I had done after the breakup. I went into a 6-month in-house treatment facility and about 6 weeks into it I lay in bed one night and I started to cry, I cried hard tears of joy because I realized I was finally free of that life with him and all that it entailed. I was finally free and on my way to a new journey. I was so grateful that he left me because I would have stayed till who knows when and maybe I would not have gotten sober or lived the life I live today. Who knows what the outcome would have been had I stayed but I am relieved that it turned out the way it did.
I also stepped out of my comfort zone when I met my husband online 7 years ago and I decided to meet him in New York City 4 months later for our first date. Please note that it took 4 months of daily calls, skype and emails to feel like I knew him enough to take the chance and I felt safe to go meet him in person. Yes it was a risk but he was so worth it. Had I not taken that step out of my comfort zone where would I be? I’d never have the blessing of stepchildren and grandchildren whom I love all my heart and they all love me back. Nor would I have the wonderful relationship I have with this man who makes me laugh, feel loved and treasured every single day.
I could go on and on with examples on how I stepped out of my comfort zone and the rewards I reaped from it. Not only in love but in my career as well, heck even how I lost weight was stepping out of my comfort zone and going against conventional wisdom. If I were to take the time to actually write down every time I stepped out of my comfort zone and the success it’s brought me I’m sure I’d do it more often… How about you? Do you have a story about stepping out of your comfort zone and how it brought you success? Please feel free to share it by either hitting reply in the email or posting a comment below.
I would love to read your stories!
To your health with love
Losing weight was not the hardest thing I’ve had to work on, you would think it was but it wasn’t. What was hard for me was to look in the mirror and love myself no matter what I weighed. I couldn’t wrap myself around the thought of loving myself for better or for worse.
When I first changed the way I ate to whole foods within the first month I dropped some weight. I felt lighter and thinner and I loved that my pants felt looser. What I hadn’t changed though was my mindset, sure it was great that I physically felt better but then I’d look in the mirror and start to cringe, I would concentrate on what I saw as flaws and proceed to tell myself a whole lot of BS about my looks and how I was still fat. I’d say “sure you lost 20 pounds but you still have 135 pounds to go” then I’d continue with a whole lot of negative self-talk and I would deflate any good feelings I had.
This was a regular recurrence for me, I simply could not appreciate who I saw when looking in the mirror. All I saw were my shortcomings, the so-called truths that surely everyone could see but were too kind to tell me.
“for once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”
― Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon
I am a forgiving person by nature, I’m not one to hold grudges, I love to love and I can be very zen like in my beliefs. So one day it occurred to me that maybe this is something I can try on myself. You know being loving and forgiving… I started to think about the power of thought and words and wondered what if I could reverse the damage I had done to my self-esteem by doing the opposite, by talking kindly and lovingly to myself.
I started small, very small, I was afraid if I got too loving I would run. I would declare the next hour one of no negative self-talk, an hour would turn to two hours, then half a day, to a full day. I figured if I would just cut the negative talk out that alone would stop feeding my ego which simply did not want me to feel joy.
After a little while of nixing the negative self-talk I tried looking in the mirror with a new pair of glasses. Let’s see, I have pretty eyes and I have nice hair. I would stop, almost afraid of going too far with the encouragement. Then I played a game with myself, every day I had to find a new thing to love about myself.
Self love does not have to start with outside issues. I started to think about my great sense of humor, I love a good joke, witticism and laughter. Now there’s something to hang onto! I’m also a quick study, that’s a good thing right and as time went on, I would find more and more things to like and love about myself.
This is a process, one you need to be consistent with, one you need to work on every day until it becomes a habit.
- Baby steps
- No trash talking to yourself
- One quality a day
To help myself along the way I bought some colorful post-it notes and wrote down the quality of the day on one and would put it in my purse. Whenever I would open up my purse I’d see this bright orange/yellow/pink post it and even without reading it I knew there was something positive inside which would remind me of my commitment to self-love.
You won’t be perfect at it, but if you commit yourself to love, self-love that is, more good things will fall into place but before any of that happens you need to start with yourself. Now go write down one of your best qualities right now.