40 Ups & Downs in 4 Years of Sobriety

On the left, I am in Punta Cana during my very last drinking binge, unrecognizable. On the right my wedding day as a sober bride, just before 4 years in recovery and proud of who I see in the mirror.

On the left, I am in Punta Cana during my very last drinking binge, unrecognizable. On the right my wedding day as a sober bride, just before 4 years in recovery and proud of who I see in the mirror.

I hope this day in the history of my life is just as important to me 20 years from now, as it is today. It can be a painful memory to recall. No one likes to admit that their life is a mess, that they lost control, or that they cannot moderate their drinking no matter how hard they try. Before May 7, 2013 I worked incredibly hard at making it seem like I had it all together. I had a job, I could pay my rent, I had a boyfriend, I was living in one of the most fabulous cities in the world. Everyone thought I was living the dream, when deep down inside my soul was aching.

4 years ago I made one small decision that initially left me feeling helpless, hopeless, and defeated. I never dreamed that that one decision would take me to where I am today. I had no idea that when I sat in the Punta Cana airport as a blubbering mess, pleading with the Universe to tell me what the fuck was wrong with me, that making the decision to get sober would lead me to a job, my marriage, a popular blog, and every other amazing thing that has happened in my life since that day.

Today I celebrate 4 years free from the shackles of addiction. I celebrate 4 years living without any mood or mind-altering substances. Sobriety has been the best decision I’ve ever made, but it has not always been easy. This year, Instead of talking about what I’ve learned during 4 years as I have during previous years, I’ve decided to make a list of the biggest ups and down I’ve experienced during these 4 years sober.

1.     Moving countries. It was beautiful, but it was hard leaving Mexico. Fer and I experience such a range of emotions every time we go back. There are things we love, things we hate, things we miss, and things we don’t. Mexico changed me in so many ways.

2.     Paying bills. Purchasing our first home was such a great feeling, but having more bills than I've ever had in my life is extremely overwhelming. At 31 years old, I’m just now learning how to budget, how to pay off credit card debt, and how to pay taxes. It’s stressful to say the least. I often long for the days in Cancun where I paid everything in cash and had money left over.

3.     Watching my nephew come into the world. I’ve already written about this unforgettable experience, but it’s one that has changed me to the core. It’s an experience I never imagined to feel so deeply about. And it’s an experience I never would have had if I wasn’t sober.

4.     Knee surgery #6. I also wrote about this when it happened and it was very hard for me. I shed a lot of tears over this and I really felt like life wasn’t fair once again. Today I’m killing it at CrossFit 6 days a week and I feel better.

5.     Remote work doing what I love. I’ve had many different jobs in sobriety, some I hated, some I loved. At the age of 28 with two college degrees I was making less than $30,000 a year. Today I get to work full-time doing what I love from the comfort of my own home and I make twice as much.

6.     The online recovery community. Online recovery has also changed my life, from the blogs, to the Facebook groups to the webinars, and starting the Bloom Club. I’ve met some of my best friends through the internet and sobriety.

7.     Fer’s shoulder surgery. Seeing my partner in pain was really difficult, but I’m glad I was able to show up sober for him.

8.     Quitting my first job in Florida. I knew it was a toxic environment and there were so many reasons to quit. It was hard for me to confront it, but I finally did and was relieved.

9.     Winning our championship for my women’s soccer team. I have been with this team since I moved to Florida and we've made it to the championship every season, but always lost. Fall season of 2016 we finally won!

10.  Starting my book. Talk about emotional! I’m powering through it.

11.  Getting married. The best day of my life.

12.  Losing friendships. It’s hard breaking up with friends and I’ve been really hurt by it. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done in sobriety.

13.  2016 election. My heart still aches over this and I definitely wanted to drink the day after.

14.  Getting an award for speaking about my recovery. I still can’t even believe that that happened, what?!

15.  One year sober viral article. Literally my claim to fame and why I do what I do. I’m still left asking, why me?

16.  Drinking alcohol on accident. I cried my eyes out in Vancouver, Canada about this, but now I know that it happens to a lot of people and I am not alone.

17.  Losing Ida. My last living grandparent passed away last January. Fer and I were able to see her two months before she left this world and I am so grateful.

18.  Telling my abortion story. It set me free.

19.  Being defamed by anti-abortion websites. I’ll never forget how it felt seeing my face plastered across their Facebook pages and websites, and being labeled a “baby killer.”

20.  Drunk dreams. Even at 4 years sober, they still haunt me. In fact, I had one just two nights ago. I believe they are a blessing and a curse.

21.  Giving meditation a chance. Another one of those things I thought was stupid until I truly committed to it.

22.  HSP. Admitting, accepting, and dealing with the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person.

23.  Embracing the 12 steps and evolving past them. And being ok with that. I’m still working on this.

24.  Dealing with chronic gut issues. I have always been able to eat whatever I want and dealing with these issues has been difficult for me, especially in sobriety.

25.  Establishing and respecting boundaries. I have come to learn that everyone’s boundaries are different. I am allowed to stick with the ones that make me feel comfortable and supported and other people can stick with theirs.

26.  Reading. During my drinking years, I lost my love for reading. It gives me so much joy to read today and I can’t devour books fast enough.

27.  Falling in love with my body. I abused this body for many years. I gave it away, I put chemicals in it, I tortured it. Now, I love my body and I try to treat it that way, as best I can.

28.  Learning the definition of humility. I never knew what that word meant before sobriety. Today I know what it means to be humble and how I can still shine and be proud of myself too.

29.  The power of connection. Genuine connections were hard for me during my drinking years and many connections I made were based on drugs, alcohol, or sex. Today I know the true meaning of showing up for my loved ones.

30.  Coming to terms with the fact that staying out late isn’t fun. I was still very social during my first year of sobriety. I’ve slowly come to the terms with the fact that staying out to until 2 or 3am isn’t that fun and I enjoy sleeping much more!

31.  Moving out of my parent’s house for the last time. My mom always said I could live at home forever if I wanted too and I was so used to going back to their house when I needed to. When Fer and I bought our house last year I knew it would be the last time I ever moved out of their house.

32.  Embracing CrossFit. It’s been a slow, love-hate relationship, but I wouldn’t trade it!

33.  Becoming a part of my husband’s family. They’ve always treated me with love and respect, but I had a lot of shame and guilt around them seeing Fer and I fight at the beginning of our relationship. This last year we’ve gotten much closer.

34.  Accepting that some people won’t show up for you. Even when I do my best to show up, some people won’t be able to do that for me. I had several good friends miss my wedding and I was crushed about that.

35.  Getting to know my family. Even aunts, uncles, and cousins who I grew up with, I felt like I didn’t really know. Now that I’m sober I am interested in their lives, where they live, how they see the world, what their goals are.

36.  Taking chances. There were times when I said I could never have a mortgage, get married, or get paid to do what I love. I didn’t think I was a good enough writer to write a book. I am grateful to be able to take these chances in sobriety.

37.  Travel. I have always loved traveling, but I didn’t care or remember it when I was drinking! My first Google search for a trip would be for bars of nightclubs. When I travel now I get to take it all in stone-cold sober. There is really nothing better.

38.  Harnessing emotions. Who am I kidding? I don’t think I do a good job of harnessing today. But when I’m sad I feel it. When I’m angry I feel it. I no longer avoid these emotions like I did when I drank. Sometimes this can be painful, but again, I feel grateful for this.

39.  Standing up for what I believe in. This means calling out bigotry and addiction stigma and violence against women. All of it. I can’t be silent, not now because today I live my most authentic self.

40.  Raw. I can sum up these last 4 years in one word: raw. At times, I feel like I’m outside in the middle of a hurricane while the world is watching me. My heart is on my sleeve, I don’t have the armor of drugs and alcohol, and I am easily affected by the world around me.

These ups and downs are just a glimmer of my wonderfully messy life in sobriety. A life I wouldn’t trade for the world and I feel so lucky to have today.