Here is a wild story about where I am right this minute at my nine month sober mark. If you had told me this is where I would be at nine months sober, or even told me last year that I’d be sober this year, I’d have said you were a fucking maniac.
The funny thing is, I have wanted to be here for a very long time. Like, over a decade. I fantasized what it would be like to be sober and in my wildest fantasies I simply sat in a darkened coffee shop sipping my cappuccino alone at a table during happy hour on a random weeknight in winter time, as a light snow fell soft and glittery outside the frosty window. I was writing away on my laptop, doing work I treasured, listening to the chill music they always play low and smooth at coffee shops. I don’t know why winter. I think I just love the idea of the holiday season and twinkle lights on pine trees indoors.
Flash forward to: I get sober on January 1st of this year (2022) in a way that feels very real but also very, extremely highly unlikely. Like a big wind turned me around in a completely new direction and even though I welcome it I am also not fully convinced it can push me all the way down the street and into the new life of my dreams.
Flash forward nine months to: I broke down at my big fancy office job just last week. Although it surprised me how fast it sort of all happened, it also felt like a dam had burst. Or, one could say, it felt not unlike when my water broke and rushed down my legs suddenly in the middle of a cold afternoon in late January of 1998 right before I gave birth to my son that night. It was a sort of out-of-body experience as I sat there at the big fancy conference table, hot tears streaming down my perfectly made-up face, as I told my boss that I had been sober all year and that the truth was, no I could not see myself staying in my current position. No, I could not take more ‘responsibility’ because to be honest I’m barely holding it together as it is. And even though I was tactful and respectful, the truth I held tight to in my chest was that I should have left years ago but I was too ashamed to admit it. I was too scared to own it. I was too intoxicated every night to allow myself to feel it, let alone fix it.
But something in me had had enough of my own lies. Something in me that was finally crystal clear enough to rise up and out of my body in the form of my own voice said: It is not safe for me here. I am still in my first year of sobriety so I am still learning but one thing I know for sure is that my triggers are acutely apparent to me now. My number one job, above all else, is to respect myself which means to respect what I know and follow its lead.
Here is what I know, and knew in that moment as deeply as I know my own name: If you can see your triggers so clearly you could reach out and touch them , if you can feel them breathing down your neck or hear them knocking on the other side of the door – they are too close. Overwhelm, burnout, sacrificing your dreams to service someone else’s, none of that is compatible with a healthy sober lifestyle. I may have sucked it up before, lord knows it wasn’t the only thing I swallowed down that was killing me. I was addicted to alcohol which is another way of saying I was addicted to the false illusion of security.
My boss was poised and compassionate as everything I tried to hold back and keep hidden for so long just came rushing out of me in tears of sloppy wetness.
I told the truth. I don’t belong in here anymore. It’s familiar which gives the illusion of comfort. And where at one time it was nourishing, now it’s too tight. I can’t stay. I’m too grown.
That is the wild story. Thank you for listening. Now here I am on a leave of absence which is a health benefit most women use as maternity leave to care for a newborn child. At exactly nine months sober, I gave birth to a new life, too. One grounded in the brutal, honest, cold light of reality, but I am warming in blankets and soft feels, too. Painful and miraculous at once. This wild divine human life is at long last in my own hands, my own arms, caressed to my own bare chest. The new life that was ready in its own mysterious time. I couldn’t have rushed it. But as I kept growing it one day at a time inside of me, eventually, inevitably, there was no more holding it in.
*All of my 60+ Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.