May 22. Wow. 10 whole months clean and sober. How did that happen?
It has been quite the adventure.
I can’t claim life has become perfect and pretty. It hasn’t. I still have plenty of rotten days. Life still spews up plenty of shit.
I was warned not to make any big changes in my first year. But the act of choosing sobriety was a life-shattering change in itself. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING looks like it did a year ago. And there are days I have wished to turn back the clock, to have that seemingly simple life back.
I do miss my old friends, I do grieve the relationships that could not withstand change and did not allow growth. I cared about those people. I still care about them.
It has been truly shocking to discover who really has my back, who’s still with me and who wanted nothing to do with me as I regrew my wings and began to learn to fly again.
I have my spark back. I can go and do. I can ask for what I need and give freely.
But I broke the rules: Don’t feel. Don’t talk. Don’t change. And so I am now forever a rebel, an outsider, an outcast. And I can’t go back in. Ever. All I can do is check back at the window from time to time and invite them to come out here with me.
Sometimes it is hard and lonely. Sometimes I forget this miracle I have been given. Three hundred and four of them, at least. I am free. I never have to use again. Ever. Even if I want to. I don’t have to. And that is more than I could have dreamed of or asked for. Free. FREE.
Not ‘Murica free. Certainly not that. More like free from the clutches of hell. I can walk as near to God as I want to today. I am not trapped, hearing His voice whispering for me, unable to follow and slowly suffocating in the poisonous stew of my own evil impulses.
This certainly doesn’t mean I have it all figured out or get it all right or even have a danged clue where I am going or what I will do when I get there. No. Not at all. But my feet are unstuck and I can pick one up and put it down in front of the other.
It is true that the bottom that came up and bit me doesn’t look much like the stereotype of a drug addict bottoming out. When I was done, I was done. We hit bottom whenever we decide to stop digging. I’m sure I could have gone much further down. There were times I had been further down.
I’ve learned not to focus so much on what separates me from my peers. There will always be someone higher or lower. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many other highly functional, even generally successful, addicts. We didn’t all end up living under a bridge sniffing empty glue bottles. I’m not the only one to have never used a needle. And some of us do just get lucky and avoid many of the common consequences.
No, I wasn’t “that bad.” I never did sacrifice my children in anyway. I still tried to be a good wife. I cooked regular meals and kept a reasonably clean house and took care of the garden. I spoke regularly with family and participated in community life and remained a responsible pet-mama.
I’m not really sure which happened first, God started poking again or I started writing again. Those were the major contributors to the tension that knocked me flat.
One day I just couldn’t go on as I had been. I didn’t want to get high. But there I was, stoned again. I’d fought that battle for a while. I didn’t want to but had somehow lost the power to make my own choice. I was powerless and needed help and knew it. And it felt like death. That asking for help and taking help was total ego-death for independent M.
But I haven’t used once since that day. I have been given that miracle. Those miracles. Each day is a miracle. Even the rotten, shitty, terrible, no-good, very bad, horrible days. And those do happen. Life is still life. There is no magic wand.
I’m still learning how to live this new life, still growing into my new shoes. It is a curious mix of thrilled and awestruck and grieving.
It is a shock to look back and see how much growing and changing I have done.
That’s me. Even if the shoes are too big I will take off running in them. I might trip and fall and collect bruises but I’m not put together to be able to creep along for long. And run I have. I don’t know how to do anything half way.
I can get up to a microphone and bring a room of people from laughter to tears in three minutes. A year ago I could hardly open my mouth in front of two people.
I can post provocative articles on Facebook and defend what I think. A year ago I only posted carefully neutral pics of my cats.
I can wander into a church where I know no one just to check it out. A year ago I had to have a friend meet me in the parking lot and take my elbow and hold on to me just to get through the door.
I have a sense of humor again. And I know when something just isn’t funny.
I can stand up for myself and ask for what I need.
I can say things like, “I don’t feel that way,” “that’s not my problem,” and “you may be right.”
I don’t need to be paranoid, anxious or fearful anymore.
I can get up and go when I want, where I want. No more carefully planning life to avoid irresponsibly driving high.
I’m going back to school and get to study subjects I am passionate about. I even have some idea where I hope this learning will lead me.
Yes, yes, I have changed. And rather dramatically at that. Perhaps those old relationships will catch up someday. Maybe they won’t. But today I am free from the clutches of stifling and suffocating living by roles and rules. Today I am free from the chains of compulsion and control.