A New Year Sober
I woke up this morning before the sun came up. I felt excited about the day and a part of me couldn’t wait until the kids were up so we could start it. I knew where I was, and my car was parked exactly where I remember leaving it. As I rubbed my eyes, they were not caked with last night’s smeared mascara. The smell of processed alcohol was not pouring out of any part of my body and I did not feel sick, remorseful, fearful, or shame. I recognized the man sleeping next to me.
As I type these words, I feel grateful. These are the gifts of my sobriety that I often take for granted. I cannot remember the last time I had to phone a friend to piece together the events of the night before or avoid people, places, or things because I couldn’t remember our last interaction. These are only memories now.
There are many New Years Eves in my life that I do not recall. There have been many mornings that I did not get up before the sun, and many more spent desperately searching for my car….or my pants. Towards the end of my drinking, there were only nameless faces in the crowd during the countdown, and very few meaningful relationships to look forward to. There were years that I couldn’t wait for the year to be over because I could not seem to crawl out of the emotional hole I was in. I didn’t know I was holding the shovel. There were many things I didn’t know.
I do not regret my past or the choices I once made, and the shame has long since passed. I know that I have always done the best I could with the tools I had. Today I have more tools than I did back then and I know how to use them. These tools were given to me by women that had received them from others. This morning as I prepare for my day I think of these women. I wonder where I would be right now without their guidance and support. I feel grateful for their willingness to share their stories of shameful walks home after a colorful New Years Eve. I am so grateful today for the power of identification; the transformation that is possible because someone once said “Me too”, and I was given the hope; that I could overcome what they had. Because someone believed in me, I have been able to walk through a great deal of things, without drinking.
As we enter into this new year, my heart is filled with hope for all of us. No matter where you are, how you feel, or who you are with right now, change is possible. Things can get better. Even if you’re in a great place, the possibilities are endless.
I am looking forward to an amazing year with you, as we support each other through whatever comes our way. I believe in us, and the power that we have to lift each other up out of absolutely anything.
I hope you will find some peace here, and that you will pass it on to others. I hope you will know how much you are appreciated, and how important you are to us.
Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.