Ray of Sunshine from Soberistas

22 Nov

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A repost from Soberistas that has helped me through this bleak Friday afternoon: http://soberistas.com/page/the-sunshine-that-is-sobriety

The Sunshine that is Sobriety

My affair with alcohol started aged 15.  Everyone around me was drinking so I assumed it pretty normal to drink till blackout, normal to wake up feeling like there was someone bashing your head with a hammer from the inside every Sunday morning and, again, perfectly normal either be at college/uni/work, or getting drunk. I got myself in humiliating and dangerous situations, and all of my dysfunctional relationships and subsequent messes stemmed from and were sustained by alcohol.
I drank heavily for 12 years.  At first I thought alcohol was the answer to my teenage problems; it made me feel confident in my own skin, mature, sophisticated and happy.  And that’s a pull right there for an insecure teenJ  I continued to drink heavily through life’s passages; all through uni and most, if not all, times after work.  I was drunk when I met my husband, drunk on my wedding day, drunk when I conceived, and yeppers, drunk when I found out I was having a baby.  I’m happy to say though that I didn’t touch a drop during both my pregnancies.
Some time after my son was born in 2008 alcohol began to loose its shine.  Because I was now a mum I couldn’t drink nearly as much.  So I didn’t.  But when I could- those rare mummy nights out- I would get wasted and end up the next day buried in a pile of fervent regret, depression and anxiety.  Instead of seeing alcohol as this miracle liquid that did all these wonderful things I started to dislike the stuff, and all the trouble it had gotten me in over the years.  And I had a son now, who had taught me the meaning of love, and who needed me.  But my new distaste towards alcohol didn’t stop me from drinking.
One time on a holiday to Mexico when my son Alex was 7 months old, I got very drunk with my family. My husband was babysitting our baby back in the room.  He said that after I was lugged back to my room by my sister and her boyfriend and passed out on the bed, I nigh choked on my own vomit.  I could have died if he had not held my head over to the side of the bed.  I have tears streaming down my face at the memory of it.  I could have left my beautiful baby motherless.  The party was over.
I got home and went to the bookstore and bought books on the AA and alcohol addiction.  They helped, and I realized I did not have a ‘normal’ relationship with alcohol.  I tried then for several years to moderate my drinking; a bottle of wine on a weekend night, and the odd glass during the week.  On hindsight, I tried to brush the problem under the carpet.  During this time I became very interested in health and I found faith, inhaling spiritual and self-help books as much as my time allowed for.  Over the next few years I grew beyond recognition from a self-destructive shadow of a gal into a woman with ambitions dreams fuelled by self-love.
Looking back I see that although I wasn’t physically addicted to alcohol, I was mentally addicted.  My circumstances with two young children didn’t allow me to drink heavily but  whenever the opportunity to celebrate and have a few drinkees presented itself, I grabbed the bottles with both hands.  So the chains were still around my ankles, I was still trapped, I just didn’t notice them as much as my heavier drinking days. Alcohol is a trickster, and an ingenious one at that.
Around this time, once all the exterior noise and drama of my younger life started to melt into a peaceful and happy home life, I began to hear the whispers of my heart.  It told me I had to quit drinking altogether.  I resisted.  And then lived to regret it.  I regretted it not because during my last drinking session I had embarrassed myself, or endangered myself, (I hadn’t) I regretted it because of this;  my son tried to wake me up after I had passed out and because I hadn’t stirred, he thought I was dead.
I can’t convey in words the self-loathing and remorse I felt that next day.  I held my two children tight, blinded by tears, and vowed I would never, ever drink again.  If I couldn’t do it for myself by God I would do it for my children. That night I read every personal story on Soberistas and they comforted me beyond measure: I was not alone.
Before I could think straight I went tearily to the doctor who referred me to a therapist.  That was nigh 4 months ago and it was one of the best decisions of my life.  My therapist is an angel, deeply spiritual, and so we resonate profoundly with one another.  I feel so supported by the Universe since I made this decision, because I took this brave step and said ‘Enough.’
Everyone is different, and I urge you to consult your own heart for your personal program to recovery.  To use my therapist’s metaphor, I have a toolbox filled with tools that aid me in my sobriety journey.  I’d like to open up that tool box and share my tools with you in the hopes that they help you too.
I had a lot of positive things in my life before I gave up alcohol.  I strongly suggest that you join that yoga class, or book club, art group or whatever speaks to you before hanging up your drinking hat.  Once you quit you don’t want any other pressure on yourself aside from staying sober.  So set up these non-drinking social groups that can sustain you and give you meaningful purpose and friendships before taking away your alcohol crutch.  You’ll also find a lot more time on your hands when you quit; you have the time and energy now for your creative talents to blossom.  You’ll have the time to properly get to know yourself, perhaps for the first time since you were a teen.
Yoga for me is such a tonic; it stills life both on the exterior and interior so I can connect with myself, and give my body and soul that place of sanctuary everyday.
I refused to go to AA because it didn’t feel right for me.  I couldn’t get passed the first step; I am powerless against alcohol.  I’d just spent six years building myself up to feel powerful, I wasn’t about to give that up so easily!  Also I knew enough about affirmations and the law of attraction to not declare something which I do not wish to be, i.e. “I am an Alcoholic.”  Instead the affirmation that is taped to my bathroom mirror is this; ‘I am so incredibly happy now that I am sober.”  Additionally I wrote out a paragraph or two about how I want my life to look now I’m sober; it’s a pretty place.  I read this aloud and then close my eyes and visualize it.  It’s filled with sense perception imagery to help the visualization spring to life in my minds eye.
Another powerful tool in my box has been reading Jason Vales’ ‘Kick the Drink…Easily.’  The reason I love it so much is because it actually gets you excited about life without alcohol!  It’s a slog thinking about giving up the drink if you think you’ll be consigning yourself to a lifetime of deprivation and sitting on the sidelines.  But this book says- and it’s been my experience- that life without that nasty drug is pretty darn wonderful.  It wakes you up from the delusion and you see clearly for the first time this prison of alcohol that you have escaped from:  Time to celebrate!
My therapist gave me this next tool and I recommend it whole-heartedly to you. Every month that passes sober I want to congratulate myself.  The first month sober I bought myself a handbag.  But I felt empty and guilty on reception of this ‘gift.’  My therapist suggested instead giving a sentimental gift to myself or those I loved, a gift that celebrates my sobriety.  So last month I lit a candle, cleared my schedule for the afternoon and hand-wrote a letter to my children. It included my past relationship with alcohol and my recovery, in which I have found peace, love and mostly; Myself.  I poured my heart and tears onto the pages, sparing no detail, and then mailed it to my address. The kids will therefore see the postmark when I give it to them in their teenage years.  It was not only an act of love for them, but an act of healing for me.
Now to those ‘magic moments’ of sobriety; if you have children- very happily- you won’t miss a thing now.  Instead of sitting on the porch sipping a Pimms of a summer’s evening you can be playing football with them, a part of their joy and wonderment and memory, rather than watching it from the sidelines guarding your drug close by.  You won’t be rushing through their bedtime story on a Friday night so you can then go downstairs to get to your wine.  You won’t be tired and crabby the next day towards them because you stayed up too late the night before with a drink.  You won’t, my friend, miss a moment of your growing babies to alcohol anymore.
Magic moment two; instead of waking up vulnerably, tentatively, you can wake up feeling Yes!  Because after all, alcohol is a depressant and it will no longer drag you and your next day down.
Recovery has not all been a bed of roses though; two months into sobriety I froze in fear and said to my husband; “Holidays!  What are holidays going to look like now?”  I couldn’t imagine a cruise without a booze package, or a hotel without a trip to the bar.  My husband said, appealing to the adventurer in me, “Honey, you’ve never known a holiday sober in adulthood, how exciting will it be trying that out?  All the new experiences you’ll have and things you will see and do.”  He’s right.  I’m so looking forward to the outdoor family holiday to Scotland we have planned.  A holiday that wouldn’t have been half so appealing if I had hangovers to factor in.
So the secret to my happy sobriety is attitude, and I want to share this secret with you.  There is such a deep satisfaction you get when you return from a dinner out with the girls in which you drank water, or a mocktail.  Every boozeless event that you would have previously drank at can turn into a glorious victory, and can raise your self-esteem no end.
Don’t you blame yourself for your addiction, don’t you even think about it.  Because alcohol is a powerful drug, and so culturally encouraged in our warped society.  Just because it is legal, doesn’t make it in any way safe.  Don’t you think yourself weak for getting tangled in alcohol’s cunning web, not for a second. You are far from weak.
You are being brave and you are being bold:  Congratulations.
You are enough.  You don’t need any crutch, particularly a dangerous drug, to hold you up.  Please feel proud of yourself for reading this story, because its true, admitting you’ve a drink problem and acting on it is such a courageous act.
I promise you this, my Soberista friends; thinking about giving up is much harder than actually giving up. Quitting alcohol has been my greatest act of self-love to date.  And there’s more; as international yoga teacher Seane Corn says, “Find your wound and you’ll find your purpose…If you’re a drug addict, probably a pretty good chance that you should go back into the drug community and serve them…If you’re an alcoholic, who better than another alcoholic to hold the space?…Who better than you to step into that environment and say ‘I see you.  Allow me to serve you.’  Because not only are you serving them but healing yourself.  You’re meeting yourself.”
 
I wish you an abundance of good fortune, love and blessings to you in your journey.  Quitting drink can be done.  And it can be done joyously.  You will be free. All you have now to dream up is, where on God’s green earth will this new- found freedom take me?  Enjoy the ride.
 
Yvette Durham is British/American, currently living in Germany.  She is a full time mummy to her beloved children and a proud military wife.  When not engaged in mummy- hood she can be found on her yoga mat, getting pumped up on the elliptical or trying out a new dish in the kitchen.  She has ambitions to do a Masters degree in Transpersonal Psychology, with the view to becoming a spiritual counselor and eventually, a minister.  She plans to turn her addictive personality inside and out, and use it to get addicted to helping others find their way to a joy-filled life.
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One Response to “Ray of Sunshine from Soberistas”

  1. carrieonsober November 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Find your wound and you’ll find your purpose.
    I love that ! There’s got to be a point to all of this. Something great will come of it. I’ll drink (herbal tea!) to that!
    Great story. Very close to mine.

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