The Joy Is In The Journey?
When I was five years sober, I hit an emotional bottom. I was still making terrible decisions and no longer had an intoxication defense to justify them. I found myself unable to look in the mirror sober, because I didn’t appreciate the reflection. Other than the inability to drown my sorrows in a bottle of booze, nothing much about my life had changed. I was in pain, and I was using all of my old coping skills to deal with it. I had gotten sober, and thought that would be enough for me, but it wasn’t. In order to change my life, I had to change everything that didn’t work in it. The problem? I didn’t work in it. The girl I was represented a square peg that I couldn’t fit anywhere in my sober life.
I met a woman who had the kind of life I wanted. There was no drama or insanity pouring out of her. She did not spend her days looking for or creating problems to complain about. She could sit quietly by herself without falling into a dark hole of depression or climbing the walls with anxiety. I desperately wanted all of that and I asked her to help me. She warned me that the road would be bumpy, but assured me that I was on the right path. I wished so much that I could just snap my fingers and be where she was; mentally, physically, and spiritually. I wanted there to be a pill that I could take or some form of freakish yogi meditation I could sit in for an hour to get “there.” I wanted her sense of peace and esteem. I wanted to love myself and treat myself accordingly. I told her all of this, and I’ll never forget what she said to me. I didn’t understand the words, but I will never forget them.
“The joy is in the journey.”
She told me that if she could gift me all that I asked for, she would in a heartbeat. She wanted those things for me too. She also said that if I suddenly woke up the next morning with all that she had worked for I would never fully appreciate it. She told me she was willing to show me how she acquired her serenity, and she assured me that I would have my own someday; if I did as she had done. I’m sure I nodded my head in agreement, but I did not fully comprehend what she was saying.
I get it now.
Today I understand that my past makes my present. Every drink, every “mistake”, every struggle I have overcome in my journey has brought me to this place. I have made many terrible decisions over the course of thirteen years, and I have chosen to learn from all of those experiences. They have molded me into the woman I am today. It has not been an easy journey, but it has been mine.
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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.