Luckily for us, many people have already trodden this path and can show us the way. Alcoholics need help, and a lot of it. We need tools and instructions on how to use them, but most of all we need each other. This path cannot be walked alone. Ask around, many have tried and have fallen.
Healthy sobriety is about connection and being who we really are; maybe for the first time in our lives. Eventually, if we stick with it, sobriety becomes our ‘new normal’ and our old life seems like it belonged to a different person.
The challenges don’t stop when we get sober.
In fact, most of us have a lot of learning and growth opportunities to grapple with that we postponed because of our drinking. Like developing emotional intelligence, for instance, and responding to our feelings in healthy ways instead of destructive ones. Creating balance in our lives where we used to have chaos.
Balance is essential to a healthy recovery, but just because I have it today does not mean I will have it tomorrow.
I have to work at maintaining balance in my life, especially now that I’m a mother. I wouldn’t say that my recovery was easy; it wasn’t. But it was certainly easier than drinking and using. I had a major crisis around three years sober because of a relationship (dating disaster hell), and a few more speed bumps along the way. But I found that as long as I continued to stay connected and use the tools I was given, I was able to learn and grow through each challenge.
Then I had a baby and didn’t sleep for a year. My toddler is now two and a half, and I look back at my old life and feel embarrassed that I ever complained about being tired before. Exhaustion is my ‘new normal’.
All I did for the first year of motherhood was look after my darling one, whilst trying to remember to shower occasionally. I didn’t use any of my recovery tools because I didn’t think I needed to. I wasn’t doing a whole lot, I certainly wasn’t getting resentful, and I adored my baby beyond anything; so I just cruised for a while.
Then came a speed bump.
My son was about 15 months old when I realized I just didn’t feel right with myself. People were starting to annoy me and I was withdrawing from my husband. I was exhausted, and nothing else mattered. I had lost my balance and if I hadn’t been careful, I would have lost my recovery too.
It was a big wake up call.
Recovery has to come first for me. Without it, I’ll lose everything. It is because of recovery I have everything I’ve always dreamed of.
Despite my exhaustion, I had to find some internal motivation to do what I had been doing before; to take care of myself spiritually and emotionally. While I was tired, I had been using that as an excuse to not do anything.
My mind is insidious and still looks for reasons to not do the things that are good for me. It will always look for the easier option. But there is not an easier option for someone like me. I’m an alcoholic, and even with over 13 years of sobriety under my belt that’s never going to change.
I wasn’t close to taking a drink, but had stepped onto the pathway to drinking. Maybe I would have stayed a dry drunk for years, who knows? I don’t want to find out.
My son deserves a sober mother, but he also deserves an emotionally healthy and spiritually fit mother too. To be those things I have to take responsibility on a daily basis to ensure there is a balance to my life and recovery.
Photo Credit: Heidi Doroghazi