If anyone can possibly believe it, it's been a whole year since I wrote my infamous One Year Without Alcohol blog. The one that gave me internet fame, a platform to talk about my sobriety, and propelled my writing career. It was the first time I outed myself as a sober person. I was terrified and relieved at the same time. Who knew that getting the crazy thoughts out of my head and into a blog would resonate with so many people? I sure didn't, but I'm glad it did. Now here I am 2 years sober. On May 6, 2013 I took my last drink. Since then my life has done a complete 360. I am a different person. Here is what I've learned so far.
1. Bad things still happen
Although sobriety has been the best decision I've ever made, it still does not prevent ALL bad things from happening. Don't get me wrong, it has definitely prevented a lot of bad things from happening, but life still goes on around me. Although I don't lose my purse anymore, get in fights, or hurt myself while drunk, I still hurt myself playing soccer, I still lose friendships, and things still don't always go my way. Life will never be perfect and even when I've had the best of intentions and tried my hardest, some situations still haven't worked out in my favor. Even in sobriety I still make mistakes, but the beauty is I have the awareness to reflect on them, learn from them, and grow.
2. I can't fix anyone
There is a saying I've heard in the last year of my sobriety that goes, "Once you start getting better, you realize how sick everyone around you is." In the first year of my sobriety I was just enjoying living sober and I think this year I've really dedicated time to improving myself as a person. It has shown me how true this saying actually is. Everyone is sick, not just alcoholics. Most people are in denial about something or have character defects that are running rampant. As much as I want to spread the message and I do, it's a hard pill to swallow knowing I can't fix anyone. There have been many friends, family, and blog readers who have crossed my path. Some reach out for help and some don't, but desperately need it. I'm learning that I can't cross that line and tell people what to do. Even if they ask, the best I can do is share my experience, what worked for me, and hope that one day they'll finally be ready to change their lives. The hardest thing is watching people you care about suffer and being able to do nothing.
3. My alcohol issues are a gift
In my first year of sobriety, I always thought to myself, who are these people who are grateful to be alcoholics?! That is crazy talk. I accepted I had a problem, but damnit, I still wished I could drink like a normal person. This second year of sobriety has finally taught me what they're talking about. My struggle has truly made me who I am. If I didn't have alcohol problems, I might have never known the beauty of this life. I might be sitting in an office somewhere, hating life and cursing every single thing that happens to me. Today, I am overcome with gratitude every morning I wake up, just to be alive. I am truly present in every moment and I've got tools to deal with the ups and downs of life; tools that some people will never have in their lifetime. This unique lens of the world was only given to me through overcoming my struggle with alcohol.
4. Not everybody is going to like me and that's ok
This was a funny shift. Last year in my soberversary blog I talked about when actively drinking, I didn't give a crap about what people thought about me. I thought I was the shit and I could care less what people said. Getting sober gave me the opposite feeling. I was timid and my self esteem was shot. I wanted to be liked and I didn't have the crutch of alcohol to help me not care about that. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped me immensely with dealing with these issues. Just like with life, every relationship you have with another human being is not going to be perfect. Some people will dislike you no matter what you say or do. Bridging the gap between being nice to people in order for them to like you, and staying true to who you are is tough sometimes. I've learned a good lesson about this in the last few months. Not everyone is going to like me and they don't have to. In fact, in some cases their opinion should hold no weight over me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but as long as I know I am a good person and I'm doing the right thing, their opinion does not affect my serenity.
5. It's not all about me
I know this is also a big one for everyone who gets sober. The world does not revolve around me! Huge ego blow! When I was drinking and doing drugs, I thought everyone was out to get me. I thought the world conspired against me to make my life horrible. I took everything personally. Even during my first year of sobriety, I was constantly in a state of anxiety. I was always wondering if this person liked me; did I do something to piss that person off? Are they writing about me? Are they talking about me? Do they know if I'm sober? This year I finally learned it's not all about me. Life happens and we all have to deal with the hand we've been dealt, not to mention I was responsible for the majority of circumstances that contributed to my horrible life when I was drinking. Not only is life not out to get me, but people aren't out to get me either. They aren't always talking about me or mad at me. Even if they are, it's not something that has anything to do with me. It's something inside of them that they cannot deal with or accept, that is manifesting in misdirected feelings towards me.
6. Unconditional love
I just had lunch the other day with a good friend of mine who I spent years partying with and now we are both sober. She was telling me how sobriety allows you to truly experience unconditional love. I know that has been the truth for me, especially during this last year. She is just one example of a friendship of mine that has grown after being shown unconditional love and support. When I chose to get sober, I was terrified. I was scared no one would love me with how messed up I was. I hit the jackpot in the boyfriend department and will be celebrating three years with Fernando this month. Two of the those years I've been sober, but the first one was extra tumultuous. He chose to love me and he has given me the best romantic relationship of my life. Unconditional love is loving without condition. Not forcing someone to fit into the mold you think they should; knowing their flaws, accepting them, and choosing to love them anyway.
I can't believe no mind altering substances have entered my body in 2 years! If you told me 2 years ago I would be sitting here writing this blog, I would have said, you're crazy. Some days the gratitude is almost too much to bear and I just can't believe I've been given this amazing second chance at life. I have to pinch myself and ask is this really my life? Even on the bad days, sobriety is still SO good. For years I was chasing freedom and prided myself on "living every day like it's your last." At the age of 29 and 2 years sober, I can truly say I'm finally free.