63,072,000

Have you ever closed your eyes while driving? I don’t recommend it if you’re planning on living a long life. But, if you’re a risk taking kind of gal like myself, you might have. It takes less than a second to make an irrational, reckless decision like that. I remember thinking how badly I just wanted to feel alive. I wanted to ride a rollercoaster with my arms up in the air screaming, “I CAN FINALLY FEEL MYSELF LIVING!” or “I’M GOING TO PUKE.” Either of those scenarios would pump adrenaline in my veins forcing my brain and body to snap into the present.

I wasn’t suicidal. I just wanted to feel something, anything, no matter what the risk. The big hole inside of me had spread. I was numb to everything- love, life, sadness, reality, happiness… all of it. It felt like I was being pulled down into the ground by branches and weeds. It felt like I was being covered with dirt and sand, unable to breathe or experience anything, but still hopelessly alive.

92CB02D3-1918-454B-BA2C-6CB396F05092I felt this way right after I got sober. I had already admitted to myself and every person in my life that I was an alcoholic. I cannot drink normally. I’m allergic to alcohol, it makes me break out in stupidity. Saying that kind of thing out loud didn’t really seem all that difficult for me. Yeah- hi, I’m Kate and I’m an alcoholic. Whoopdeedoo. It wasn’t rocket science. Everyone in my family had been walking on egg shells for years wondering when I was finally going to stop.

I stopped. Aren’t you happy with me now?

Aren’t I happy now?

No. Sobriety doesn’t come with a Groupon for instant satisfaction and joy in life. What it does deliver is a swift dose of reality and most of us are very startled by that. What do you mean I have to work on myself? I just gave up my best friend. Isn’t that enough? Are you seriously telling me that I have to show up at these meetings with you random, weird people and tell strangers about my life? What the hell is wrong with you people? I like to air my dirty laundry out on facebook, not face to face. That just sounds savage.

I’m was willing to kiss Pinot Grigio and PBR tall boys goodbye. Peace out alcohol, this relationship is over. I’m moving on to bigger and better things. I figured that first night that I would go to sleep an alcoholic and wake up to a happier version of myself.

That’s pretty typical of us alcoholics, right? We want what we want and we want it right now. If we can’t get what we want when we want it, we can become slightly…insane. I can’t even count how many tantrums I had when I ran out of wine.

It’s pretty clear that alcoholism is a symptom of something much harder to break. Our mind can be a weapon against ourselves. Our lives are full of self-destructive chaos. We slowly kill ourselves with substances to avoid situations and emotions that cause us stress.

Shortly after I decided to get sober I started to see the real world and it was FUCKING TERRIFYING. I had to tell myself, “Don’t worry, you stopped drinking, you don’t have to feel those things. Alcohol was the problem!”

HA. HA. HA.

Every table I sat at in the beginning was filled with people who had coping skills and they seemed pretty damn happy. I wanted what they had and this time I could get it. Ask and ye shall receive. They told me what to do. They told me I would have to work hard to achieve sobriety and start a better life. They told me to surrender. They told me to pray. They told me to breathe.

F238EE5C-D1F7-4900-8F56-A2BAD60F91E2Breathe. I have always been trying to catch my breath. Trying to run around and search for anything or anyone to fill the void. When that didn’t work I kept running in every other directions until I finally couldn’t.

Sobriety is simple. I have regularly found that I don’t exactly do *simple*. Breathing is also simple. But, I find myself holding my breath. I breathe in fear and let it settle into my core. Instead of living in the moment, I get stuck in the moment. I can’t control anyone or anything but myself. I hold my breath when I’m hurting, when I’m demoralized and beaten with words. I hold my breath as I watch my children grow and worry if they’ll make the same mistakes I have. I hold my breath when I think about the love I have lost and the love I’ll never have.

Sounds pretty sad right? I’ll invite you to my pity party. All of my fears dancing around me taunting me, pushing me, trying to break me into the shadow of my past.

 

Woe is me.

 

Here’s why I haven’t suffocated yet- I drop to my knees and quietly ask God to take over, be my ventilator until I can inhale my serenity and exhale the rest. I reach out to others who have learned to breathe and ask them how. How do they do it? They just do it. They put the time, the effort, and the service to help others and themselves.2A62B932-A96B-4B41-B785-64080836D04B

I’ve been breathing my whole life. When did I complicate it? The answer doesn’t matter, the solution is sobriety. It’s trying to comprehend that this life has not been handed to me, I have to work for it. It’s taking those risks, opening my heart, opening my mind, and asking God to take over. It’s accepting that shitty people, places and things happen. It’s accepting that I have been shitty to people, places and things (… I’ve thrown a good amount of cell phones in my time.) but that doesn’t define me. I define me, and I identify myself as a sober mom just taking it all in day by day. Am I perfect? No (unless you ask my dog, of course). Am I trying? I am.

I’m taking life one day at a time. One minute at a time. One second at a time.

63,072,000 seconds to be precise and a lifetime more to go.

17247AE6-DFBA-46B1-B255-24D2CDDD6C24

 

 

Firsts.

We all have *firsts*. First kiss. First concert. First apartment. First airplane ride. First fight. First sip of coffee. First time lying. First time laughing. First birthday party. First day at college. I could go on and on about all the firsts we have in our lives, but it would take all day.

Every single first becomes part of your life. They serve a purpose in molding who  we are.

 

Well, what if you basically slept through five years of firsts?

I did that.

 

Alcohol consumed me and made me forget. There was no room to try new things or experience any firsts, because alcohol selfish. Alcohol takes away all those happy memories. Alcohol wants you to hide your emotions. Alcohol wants you to reach that bottom of the bottle. Alcohol is a real fucking jerk.

 

I didn’t want to feel anything. Happy or sad. I just wanted to be happy and thought that the only route to that emotion was alcohol. I just stuffed it way, way down.

Then I exploded. You can’t go on like that forever.

 

The first day of sobriety. On that first day, I knew I had to deal with some shit and it wasn’t going to be easy. But, I was sober. I went to my first AA meeting and immediately I was surrounded with other women like me. Women who had realized how I felt. I felt relief. I felt shame. I felt anger. I felt accepted. I felt love.

 

I felt emotions that made me realize that I was, indeed, an alcoholic.

 

I felt. I felt for the first time in along time. I opened up my heart and let myself feel everything.

 

I felt comfort when I ran into my husbands arms after sobbing and shaking with fear. I felt scared saying goodbye to my best friend, alcohol. I cried so hard, I popped blood vessels around my eye.

I felt confident when I didn’t relapse on vacation. I felt joy when I watched my daughters in the sand and ocean. I said to myself, ” I am sober. I can feel these things. I can make memories again.”

I felt shock and disbelief when my youngest daughter took off her diaper and chucked it at my head. I felt silly, because it was kind of hilarious that she chose to do that.

 

I felt calm when we hosted Easter at our house this year. It was my first sober holiday. I expected to be anxious, but I felt peace. I knew I could get through it. I felt like God was holding my hand, keeping me safe from that first drink.

 

I felt excited to watch my beautiful five year old graduate preschool. I’ll remember her being that little forever. I felt proud as I watched her on stage during her dance recital.I felt so much happiness at her birthday party. Birthday parties are tricky. I always thought birthday parties were actually for the moms who gave birth and deserved a drink. I would fill my cup up with wine as much as possible. I would then start a fight with my husband and black out.

 

I felt thankful that I was able to see her blow out her candles on her cake.

 

I felt safe knowing that my Higher Power was with me at all times, and lost all feelings of wanting a drink that day.

 

I can’t go back. I can’t rewind and experience my firsts from the past. All I can do is, try to feel and express every emotion that pops up. My sobriety helps me see things with clear eyes. I take it day by day. I know that there will be hundreds of new experiences to see and feel for the rest of my life. I welcome it. I’m open.

 

Bring it on.