Nine months sobriety.
That’s quite something.
It occurred to me last night that I have now been sober for the same length of time that a healthy pregnancy should last. I didn’t even manage sobriety during my pregnancy (although I did only have a couple of glasses of wine a week).
The biggest thing I have learned during my sobriety is that it is okay to feel things. It is okay to cry, to get upset, to feel happy, to feel stressed, to feel angry, to feel scared. It is okay to feel all of these complex emotions that humans have (and I am convinced that the alcoholic or addict feels them in the extreme) and to not drink on them. Sobriety has taught me to handle them.
Sobriety has also taught me that it is okay to feel flat. That actually, feeling flat is good. It is, apparently, normal to just be okay, to not have one extreme emotion or to have a drama in my life.
As I reflect on my drinking days, I was always seeking out drama. I would involve myself in business that really was not my business in my attempts to fix things, apparently classic Al-Anon behaviour (my mother was an alcoholic who committed suicide during a relapse, my father is currently in A.A as well, my husband is, I believe, an alcoholic and my brother is an addict). Sobriety is teaching me that it is okay to just be.
Sobriety has taught me about honesty. I considered myself to be an honest person, even during my drinking. Yes I would lie or tell half truths in order to obtain more alcohol but somehow I could justify that to myself. Of course I would be extremely offended if anyone dared lie to me. Naturally, since I stopped drinking I just assumed that I had become more honest without really thinking about it. I have learned that I lie about my feelings; if my husband asks me if I am okay, is it really fair to say that I am if I am not? What am I scared of?
Sobriety has taught me about relationships. Through going to A.A. I have true friends, people who genuinely care for me and are not just hanging around for the next time I shout a night down at the pub (and plunge myself into debt to do so). It has made me available and present for my sisters; I cannot turn back the clock and be present for their most important years but I can be there for them now. I look forward to spending time with them without thinking about making an escape so I can go home and drink or without worrying if I will be too hungover to see them the next day.
Sobriety means I enjoy being a parent to my son. I enjoy playing with him, reading to him, helping him to learn and explore. He is an amazing, incredible addition to my life rather than an inconvenience. Of course there are still times I get twitchy at 5 pm and think a glass of Sauv Blanc would be nice but that thought leaves me as quickly as it arrives. I am so grateful that my son is so young that he will not remember my drinking days.
Sobriety means I nurture my marriage. I talk to my husband more, I listen more.
Sobriety means I lose my temper less, I am more patient and tolerant.
Sobriety is not, by any means, a perfect life. It is hard to deal with feelings and life but it is wonderful to be able to do so. Sobriety is handling life on life’s terms. Sobriety is taking responsibility for the harms I have caused in the past and making amends by being present in the lives of those I love.