Sometimes, It’s One Second At A Time
On May 2, 2000, I was just a little willing to let someone else hold the reigns for a bit. It marks the anniversary of the day I got sober; the day I gave up trying to run my life; the day I surrendered.
Every year I reflect on what a total mess I was that day, all of the people that have taken time, and had the patience to help me, and how much my life has changed. This year I’m a blogger so I’m doing something different. I hope you don’t mind. My blog is usually focused on the funny parts of my life or the dreary, but here’s a little of the in between.
On May 1, 2000, I was homeless and helpless. It was the day I attempted to take my own life because I couldn’t figure out how to live it. I was twenty-two years old, afraid of my own shadow, and had been hiding from myself for a very long time.
Drinking was never my problem. I was pretty awesome at it, actually. I never had a drinking problem. I did, however, have a wicked sober problem. Sober was a terrible place to live and I did my best to avoid it at all cost. Sober I was me, and I really hated her. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t look in the mirror without wanting to spit at the reflection. I was fairly certain that I was the absolute worst mother in the world, and that my daughter was better off without me. She was four.
I think about those feelings today and I cannot imagine how I didn’t realize what alcohol was doing to me or my life. I was just having fun, or trying to unwind, or following others. I didn’t always plan on getting drunk, often I would just head out to have a couple. At first, it was fun; really fun to escape and let loose… and at some point, it wasn’t.
I was running.
I have always done the best I could with what I had, I know that now, but then I felt useless. I remember referring to myself as “a waste of human flesh and oxygen.” I haven’t felt that way in a really long time, but I will never forget it. It’s the reason I got sober and it has been one of the driving forces of my recovery.
In the last thirteen years I’ve probably made every mistake there was to make. I’ve made terrible choices, sober. I’ve dated the wrong men, many many times, sober. I’ve made some great friends, but also pushed people away, sober. Getting sober didn’t change me immediately. It has been a long, amazing journey. I still make mistakes, lots of them…all the time… but I don’t drink.
Over these years I have been given the rare opportunity to meet and get to know myself. I have had many teachers and have gotten glimpses of the good, bad, and ugly within me through the reflections I have seen in other women. There have been so many women that I have looked up to, loved, and shared amazingly difficult times with. Sobriety gave me the opportunity to meet these wonderful people, and they let me borrow their peace and serenity until I earned my own. There have been great times. There have also been horrific times. These women stood by me through the ups and downs and reminded me that I was worth it when I forgot. They didn’t help me by being perfect at this life thing, they helped me by making mistakes and sharing their lessons. This I am eternally grateful for.
On this day I think about the people I started this journey with or those I have met along the way that didn’t make it. I think of them often, but on this day, I focus on the impact that meeting and knowing them has had on my life and my sobriety.
I often wonder what I would have thought about the woman I am today back then. I don’t think I would have liked myself, but for all the right reasons. I have become one of those women that can extend peace and serenity to those in need until they find their own. If you had told me this would happen, I would not have believed it. It’s hard to believe even now.
What is not hard to believe is that if I can do this, anyone can. One of my counselors in detox said I should have worn a t-shirt that said “I dare you to get me sober,” and yet, here I am. So, if you are struggling with alcohol, or drugs, or whatever, please don’t give up. If you’re not ready to get help, that’s okay. Just know that it’s available to you when you are ready. There are a ton of 12-step and non 12-step groups, books, prayers, etc. to choose from and they’re coming up with more every day. Our Resources Page has all sorts of helpful links…you know, just in case.
I am so grateful today for my life, and the opportunity to be present for my children. I am proud of the woman I have become, and the reflection that I get in the mirror today. That four-year-old is now seventeen, and although there are very few things we can agree on these days, we’re both pretty stoked that I’m sober.
This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies on July 29, 2016.
Julie Maida lives in Massachusetts with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.
Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and 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.