I have said that getting a dog was the best decision I ever made. I have said changing jobs or apartments was the best decision I ever made. I have said joining Team in Training was the best decision I ever made. I have emphatically said that joining Ironteam is the best decision I ever made. I have said many things are the best decision I ever made. But, all of those declarations, while not untrue, cause I know I meant them, were not quite correct, and a little exaggerated. Really, truly, the best decision I ever made was to get sober. Because if I hadn't gotten sober the odds of any of those other things happening? About zero.
Sobriety lead me to my bipolar diagnosis, which changed my life by showing me what I was missing, what
In honor of six years of sobriety I'll share six things with you that I have learned since I had my last drink.
Not drinking was the hardest, and at the same time, easiest, decision I've ever made. Do I want to drink now? For the most part, no. Occasionally I think it would be nice to have a beer or a glass of wine with friends. I never give in to that impulse, ever. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a drink to drown out reality or celebrate a huge accomplishment. But, I don't need alcohol to help me cope or celebrate. And, really, I don't ever actually miss it. I don't miss the hangovers, the forgetting, the blackouts, the stupidity that can some along for the ride. I don't miss the extra calories (which I'm more than happy to reallocate to ice cream). I don't miss the bad, which far outweighed any good (and really, is there ever actually anything good that comes out of drinking?).
I don't need to drink. I used to hide at the bottom of a glass or bottle. Alcohol masked who I really am. It kept me from being the best me I can be. Not drinking has led me to a version of myself that is entirely the same deep down, and totally different on the outside, because now, that girl inside of me, she shines on the outside too. I'm fantastic the way I am. I certainly don't need a drink to tell me that.
I don't care what people think of me. Other people's opinions of me is none of my business. I used to care, a lot. At first, drinking made me feel like I fit in. As I got older it helped me self-medicate and hide the things about me I didn't understand. I worried how the world saw me, and with a drink in my hand I felt like the world saw me as fun and cool. Now, I realize the only opinion that matters is my own. I know I'm a good person and a good friend, and I don't need to be validated (or judged) by anyone.
I (still) have no idea what I'm talking about at least 95% of the time, at least now I'm aware of the fact that I don't really know anything about anything, but I'll do my best to learn everything I can and not pretend to already know all the things. Plus, not drinking gives me an interesting perspective on the world and people in it. So maybe I only don't know what I'm talking about 94.5% of the time.
I am capable of so much more than I ever realized. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, in life, in love. I have so much more to give than I ever realized. Ten years ago, if you had put me in a room with my friends and said one of us would wind up a marathoner, let alone an ironman, I would have been the last choice (seriously). And now, here I am, doing it, and fundraising for a cause I care deeply about at the same time. Who would've thought? Not me. Not anyone. I have so much more inside of me than I ever thought possible. I am strong and confident and life is mine for the taking. Me from 10 years ago (actually 6 years ago and going back) would not recognize this version of me. Not a chance. And, I'm okay with that, cause I love who I am now.
Drinking didn't help me live my life in any way, shape or form. Things still hurt just as bad as they did before, and maybe more because I'm more aware of what I'm feeling, because I can't have a drink to cope with the emotions, or mask them. Now, I just need to be aware of them and feel them. Loss is still loss. Love is still love. Hate, well, that is pretty much gone from my life now (I've learned the opposite of love is not hate, its indifference, hate takes up too much precious space in my life to let it exist for me).
Its a crazy thing about life... time just keeps moving forward whether we want it to or not, alcohol or not.
One last thing, I've said this before, and I'll say it again for those who haven't heard it. This is something I haven't heard in a while, and I really truly appreciate it. But, to prevent it in the future. Don't say things to me like, "I'd love to see you drunk. That would be so fun." No, in fact, it wouldn't. Make no mistake, I am an alcoholic. I was never a drink every day alcoholic, but I am an alcoholic, and I can not drink. It is an addiction, and no matter how long I'm sober, that fact doesn't change. I am an addict. To put it in perspective, you wouldn't say to someone in recovery from heroin addiction, "It would be so fun to shoot up and watch you get high." Its the same thing, just a different drug of choice. True friends wouldn't want to put me in that position. True friends don't make those kinds of comments, and for each of you, I am truly grateful.
Thank you for being supportive amazing people that I am so lucky to have in my life. I am truly, a lucky, lucky girl.