At this time last year I was announcing something pretty cool on this day. It was my book deal. A dream that I had, realized, and then as you all know, it was quickly dropped from my reach months later. This experience has overshadowed the last year of my life. First, it made the last year seem exciting, fulfilling and diligent, and then after the deal was lost, I felt a great sadness and grief, followed by a feeling of being stuck. Over the last seven months I’ve had to battle a severe case of feeling unworthy, unmotivated, and a general sense of feeling lost in my career.
Needless to say it’s been a pretty sucky time. I have not felt like myself, which is someone who is normally always motivated to find more exciting opportunities, someone who is determined and doesn’t give up, and someone who has an outlook of abundance for their life and career. Even when I was drinking I always had the feeling that something more, or better, was just over the horizon and around the corner for me. I felt hopeful. For the first time in my life, I have generally felt like a lazy, unmotivated failure for the last several months.
Slowly, months later, I feel like I am finally getting back to myself after hitting this bump in the road that I never anticipated. The most frustrating part of it all is the negative self-talk I’ve experienced. “Come on Kelly, you don’t just give up after a setback. That’s not you.” “The only person responsible for this funk is you.” “Are you going to let one or two rejections stop you from achieving your dreams?”
Today is my sober birthday, the day I celebrate that changed my life forever. I don’t want this day to be clouded over by the funk I have been in, but I do want to be real.
I know that if I didn’t get sick and tired of my own bullshit 6 years ago I wouldn’t be sitting where I am today, a sober, capable, and successful human being who is almost done writing a book, and who had a book deal once (and will have one again!), and who gets to help people find sobriety for themselves.
On May 7, 2013 I didn’t really know I was “getting sober.” I didn’t really know that day was going to be the first day of the rest of my life. I didn’t know a life without alcohol was possible and that it would be better than any crazy party I had ever lived.
I did know that I needed to do something different. I did know the deep feelings of self-hate, shame, and disgust I had with myself weren’t going away no matter how much alcohol I drank. They only got worse. I did know that I was finally ready to get off the merry-go-round. I was scared, and I felt like I was giving up, but it was the best decision to give up I ever made in my life.
Almost every single person I talk to or work with has the same quality. They can’t let go of keeping the door open to a relationship with alcohol. They, like me, have tried incredibly hard to keep alcohol in their lives in some way - through moderation, through the balancing act of imposing restrictions on themselves, through committing to breaks from alcohol, or limiting themselves to certain holidays or occasions. Then, like me, they ALWAYS come across the one time it doesn’t work anymore. They feel like a failure and the cycle begins again.
The best thing I’ve learned in sobriety is that the only way to ensure that you break the cycle and get off the merry-go-round for good, is to give up the fight. Stop fighting against alcohol. Stop trying to force a relationship with alcohol. Stop trying to find a place for it in your life. Stop trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. Stop trying to figure out the perfect ratio of liquor to beer to food to sleep. The mental energy you waste and anguish you feel doing this is the recipe for a miserable life. And yet, people do this because they feel like it’s easier than living a life without alcohol. No, my friends. I have never known true peace until I stopped running from my pain and got off the merry-go-round. I gave up the fight against alcohol and drugs because I was so tired from fighting I wasn’t even enjoying my life.
I’m so glad I gave up that fight 6 years ago today. I’m glad I stepped into the unknown and took a chance on sobriety. I had no idea just how good life could get. Even when I’m in a funk, even when I’m feeling lost or sad, even when I am grieving, my connection to myself and the universe allows me have a deep belief that somehow everything will work and be ok.
6 years of this reawakening and every year I feel different, more alive, and more surprised than ever. Once I let go of alcohol and drugs I realized how much cooler stuff there is to do with my time here on Earth than get wasted. Now I don’t even have any desire to put anything in my body that makes me feel remotely weird, when 6 years ago I would take drugs from strangers. I’m in love with this beautiful messy life that still makes my heart ache on so many days.
I am grateful for where I am and where I am going, but most of all I’m grateful for today.