For the first year of sobriety I felt like I was living on borrowed time. I was confident in my sobriety but it felt like that confidence and willingness could disappear at any moment and I’d be back to white-knuckling this disease. But the last couple of months, I’ve really started to settle in to the idea that I might actually get to keep this thing. This second chance. So I’ve been trying to examine what works for me in sobriety and what doesn’t. One thing that I know for sure, and I’ve known for a while now, is that I don’t believe in fear-based sobriety.
During my borrowed-time phase, I had good and bad days like anybody else. But any day that I wasn’t drunk or dead was more than good enough for me. I was (am!) so damn happy just to be here. Every day is full body, mind and soul overwhelming gratitude. Having a life that I value and want to hold onto is what keeps me sober. It isn’t god, it isn’t a program, it isn’t fear of consequence. It’s happiness and gratitude (and beating myself over the head with the idea that I deserve them until I believe it). But not believing in fear-based sobriety doesn’t mean that I’m not afraid – I’m scared shitless. Every time I remember that red wine tastes good or have a dream that I’m drunk or think about what my life could look like again if I relapse, I experience moments of fleeting panic. I don’t ever want to go back to the miserable place that was my addiction, where I was a fuckng ghost, killing myself and my loved ones slowly. So in those moments of panic I have to get back on solid ground by reminding myself that nobody can take this away from me but me. And then I continue to cultivate a life that I fucking love, even on the worst days.
Other things that help: community, transparency, mindfulness, helping other addicts and keeping this conversation going. So if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! Thanks for helping me get here and stay here.