One year ago yesterday, I woke up knowing it was a day of so much to celebrate - my dear friend and roommate was getting married the next day so we were having a bachelorette party for her that night, it was my sister and brother-in-law's wedding anniversary, it was one of my closest friend's birthday, and another one of my closest had gone into labor with her first kid. There was so much joy and happiness around me and I was so excited for everyone and the busy day of celebrating that was going to be taking place; but I also felt that gross inward focused feeling creeping up and it started to take over in my head. It was jealousy and insecurity and the feeling of being forgotten by God - where was MY husband? MY kid? Why didn't I get celebrated with big parties? What about ME? So while I was happy for my friends and all that was going on in their lives, I quickly decided to mask - not deal with - my feelings, and decided that I had the right to get drunk that night to not have to think about these things.
The day was full of fun and some moments of real joy - celebrating K and seeing her big day around the corner, seeing a very deserving A celebrated by other friends, that first picture of A/O's gorgeous baby boy, knowing that my sister was celebrating another year with one of the best dudes I know and couldn't be happier to call my cuñado - but there was this feeling of pity for myself and I was "dealing with it" by drinking.
As the day went on and I went from one celebration to the other, I was overwhelmed with how angry and bitter I was and decided to leave a party early and went home, where a couple of friends met me and we sat around my front porch drinking for a couple of hours. Those two hours ended up being a time of all of us venting and basically talking shit about things, and while I didn't end up getting drunk the way I used to, I still went to bed drunk and with a bad attitude.
The next morning I was thinking about the previous day and I couldn't stop thinking about how my crappy entitled attitude had laced all the good with negativity; not for anyone else, but for me. I had made everything about me and what I didn't have instead of being grateful for all the good that those I love dearly had been experiencing that day. As I was thinking about this, in my head I just kind of dismissed it with, "Well, if I have a shitty day or feel bad, I should be able to get drunk." And as soon as I thought that, it was like having the wind knocked out of me, because for me, it should be the absolute last thing I should turn to as a coping mechanism.
You see, it wasn't that long ago that drinking was an out of control thing in my life. It was a normal, every day, dysfunctional thing that ruled my life and ruined a lot of things in my life. I used it to cope with everything - or more like avoid everything - and it took a toll on me and those around me. There are relationships that I ruined that I will never have again, and that breaks my heart. There are relationships that I thought were ruined and have been restored due to lots of hard work and the grace of God. There are nights I won't ever get back, so many regrets, memories I wish I could get rid of, and consequences I still have to deal with due to all of that. And while it had been about three years since my drinking had been that bad, there were still one or two nights a year that I had turned into that old person I disliked so much because I allowed myself to go to drinking as my way of coping.
So on September 7th, 2014 I decided to take a break from drinking at all. While for 99.7% of the time drinking wasn't an issue for me, the fact that there was even a slight chance that I could turn back into that person made me want to not even give it a slight chance of happening. Honestly, I thought it would last about a month and then I would go back to just being able to handle it well. And here we are, September 7th, 2015, and I still have not had a drink since, making this the longest sober time period since I was 16 years old.
In all honesty - IT'S BEEN HARD. It sucks so much of the time and it especially did those first few months. I realized that I am actually not a good dancer and that what I do on the dance floor is not cute so I should probably stay off of it so as not to offend others. I realized I am actually far more shy than I ever knew, especially in social situations when I had to talk to people I didn't know well or at all. I realized how much more fearful I am and how much importance I put on what others think of me. I became so much more aware of every thing I did and said because they were my responsibility. And these things all came from knowing I didn't have an excuse for my actions that I was drunk, or the "liquid courage" to dance like a fool or talk to people or not care what others thought of me.
And I felt E V E R Y T H I N G. You guys know that scene in Mean Girls where that girl stands up and says "I just have a lot of feelings"? That's been me this last year. I don't know that it's that I have more feelings or just that now I am actually allowing myself to feel what I feel (like right now as I am crying while writing this), but everything has been magnified. And if you know me, you know that I am already an emotional person and this last year has been a very hard and interesting one on its own, so this doesn't help! :)
But while it has sucked a lot of times and it's been exhausting and I have had to face a lot of things I didn't want to, it has also been an incredible thing. It has forced me to actually deal with what is happening and forced me to grow. It has been challenging, but it has made me more productive and creative by learning to occupy myself, not just distract myself, with other things when all I really want to do is go out and get drunk until I don't feel hurt or forgotten or pissed or lonely, and work through those things while doing so. It has made me more intentional with the things I do and say and more aware of how those things affect the people around me. It has made me get out of my comfort zone and reach out to people when I all I wan't to do is hide and isolate myself. And in a weird way, it has made me more confident and less fearful of what others are going to be thinking about me...because while I may not be the best dancer (think Phoebe when she runs put on a dance floor), it doesn't mean I don't love dancing and enjoy myself when I'm doing it, even if I look like a fool!
Above all, it has made me more aware of the presence of God in my life and His constant pursuit of me and all He is doing in my life. It has made me see all that He has been working out in my life and how far He has helped me come and not focus on what He hasn't given me and hasn't done. It has helped me cling to Him in ways I never thought I needed to do because I was clinging to something else first, and it has brought a comfort and peace amidst some of the toughest times I've had that I had not felt before.
Yesterday morning, I woke up in my roommate's new place that she has with her husband because I am watching their dog while they are off celebrating their one year anniversary. I saw my friends' parents at church and they were so excited to celebrate their first grandkid's first birthday. I hugged my brother in law and congratulated him on another year with my sister. I shared a day with my friend whose birthday it was along with the many others who love her and celebrate her the way that she always does for others. I snuck into the kitchen for a minute and was wrapped up in a hug with two dear friends that let me tear up with true joy and happiness and nothing else for everything that was going on. I still don't have a husband or a kid or have big celebrations thrown for me, but that was not what I was thinking about - I was thinking about what the Lord is doing in my life and loved ones' lives in this past year and how glad I am that I have been present for it, that I have been given His strength to be more selfless and fight against things that damage me, those around me, and the memories I am storing up. It's not to say that there are not times where those things come up - the jealousy, loneliness, feeling forgotten - but now I have found better ways to deal with them and work through them because I am not numbing myself to everything. And while I never thought I would get to a year of being booze free and I don't know if this will be a lifetime thing or not, I know that right now, being present in the good and the bad is far more important to me than really good gin and tonic on a hot day or a whiskey on a cold one.