I am two years sober today and life is, quite honestly, beyond spectacular. I never dreamed it could be this good.
I hit my bottom in March 2010 watching (er, trying to watch) the movie Up at home with Steve. Drunk, of course. Not too long into the film, I pretty much had a nervous breakdown. If you’ve watched the first 20 minutes of that movie, you know it’s a killer for, well, anyone with a beating heart, but I felt it especially so for me, as I was already feeling so much like I was letting my life pass me by.
I seriously lost it, overcome with feelings of failure, thinking that I was wasting my life, that all the dreams I had would never come true. I hit me hard that all the promises I made to myself, I never kept. Oh, you should have heard me screaming and crying and raving at Steve, begging him to take me on an overseas trip somewhere, anywhere, before I died.
My brain chemistry was so destroyed by alcohol, my thinking so poisoned. I had fallen into utter despair and hopelessness. Exacerbating it was full on paranoia, a gut-wrenching constant fear of what I just KNEW everyone else was thinking about me and what a failure I was and how I never kept my word about what I was going to do or not do or make of my life. I realize now that my friends love me and never saw me that way, but I couldn’t make sense of that at the time.
I stopped the next day, but that bout of sobriety only lasted until May 2010, when I picked up a bottle of vodka again to celebrate a personal financial success (irony of course being that if I had continued drinking long-term, that money would have gone entirely down the toilet). I drank every day again until late July, when, on just another night of bland drunkenness that had started to feel so normal, I knew I was through. I thought “I quit for two months, why am I doing this AGAIN, EVERY DAY?” and that was the end of that. No fanfare, no bad accident, no yelling or crying that time. Just a feeling of “This is it. I’ve had enough.” My first sober day was on July 28, 2010.
Since then, everything has changed. Everything. To try to recount all of the realizations and spiritual growth and mental change would be overwhelming, though certainly some of it is documented on this blog through mid 2011.
Between that last post and now, though, I would say the changes have been a little more tangible, a little more geared toward the revamping of my everyday life, starting with…
I stopped smoking November 1, 2011. I tried numerous times to quit in 2011, but it only finally stuck that day, and the experience was eerily like the end of my drinking. No hoopla, no pronouncements, just a feeling of being through with it. I had a conversation with Steve the night before about how I was using my inhalers (I had developed asthma and allergies from years of destroying my own health) multiple times per day just so I could keep smoking. I had been hiding it from him, which was startling to admit. He wasn’t angry; he just told me how distressed my breathing problems made him and that he was worried I was not going to be able to share a full, long life with him. It hit me in a way it never had before. His emotional words, in conjunction with the realization that I was lying – lying to my husband, my best friend – about my dirty habit, finally forced me to quit. The next day I just didn’t buy more. That was that. I never looked back because, as with the alcohol, I had moments of total acceptance about it that kept me in place.
I lost 50 pounds.
That second picture from the left was taken just 10 days before I quit drinking. I’m totally wasted in it and don’t even recognize myself behind my empty eyes and weak smile. I’m fascinated by this photo and look at it from time to time, staring at it the way you do a nasty car wreck, trying to comprehend my weight, my face, my unkempt hair, the obvious lack of pride I took in myself. I can’t even process it.
I became a runner again. I used to love running. LOVE. It’s really the only exercise I ever deeply loved because, to me, it’s pure meditation. I am so happy to have it back. I ran my first 5K race in May 2012 and will definitely be doing more.
I rediscovered my passion in the kitchen. I eat incredibly clean, incredibly well and cook 95% of my own (and Steve’s) food. Cooking sober has increased exponentially the joy I found in cooking in the first place and I haven’t even come close to tiring of it.
Funny thing about food – I get a little crazy-headed about it and go overboard sometimes, downing a couple thousand extra calories in an hour or less. It’s mostly on stuff like peanut butter or smoothies, since there is no “junk” in my house, but still. It’s this bizarre out-of-control feeling, this compulsion that roars in my head, and it reminds me that the essential compulsive behavior is still with me and must be faced and fought. I’m still learning. I’m still fighting. I just don’t doubt now that I will always come out on top.
I am fulfilling one of my major life dreams/goals – buying a house. There is really no way to explain how much this means to me. It’s one of the two life dreams I have had since childhood. Steve and I also used to talk about having a house together from the time we were first dating. Now it’s finally happening. We picked up from California and moved all the way back to Texas, just as we always said we would, so we could buy a lot of home for less money. We said we would do it within a year and we have. I found a great job (he transferred in his, a real stroke of luck), we found a real estate agent, we searched, we found, we signed. Brand new home, not even finished for another couple of weeks. Hardwood floors like I always fantasized about, granite countertops, custom fixtures, loads of archways and windows. It’s gorgeous. Closing is early September. DONE.
Which brings me to… all these accomplishments, all this rumination about what I’ve achieved in the last two years is really just to say…
I am living proof that you can turn it all around and that you can make your dreams come true. What’s more is once you make one dream come true, you start to believe you can make all of them come true. Sobriety, giving up cigarettes, losing weight, running, moving, buying a home. One led to another led to another and they compiled and pretty soon I started to believe that I could and can do anything – ANYTHING – I set my mind and heart to doing.
My other life dream from childhood? Travel? Yeah, see, that is totally happening starting next year. You can bank on it. I can bank on it, because I am finally the person I wanted to be, the one who keeps her promises to herself and does what she says she is going to do. I am finally the woman I knew I was, the best version of myself, the one buried at my core, curled up in a fetal position, just waiting to be nurtured back to life.
I stand proud. Choked up proud. There’s no feeling like it.
Happy two years to me.