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The gift that keeps on giving

October 30th, 2016 Guest Posts

This gorgeous update was written in the Members Feed by member @bellab a few weeks ago and I thought it so powerful it was worth sharing in a blog post here. 

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@bellab:On this day two years ago, I woke up hung over, determined to stop drinking and quietly terrified. It is hard to reconcile those thoughts with my new found freedom and joy but I remember them well.

Alcoholic thinking is completely screwy, it will say anything, anything at all to keep you drinking. I was convinced my life would be slightly less joyful and happy and more sombre and quiet. I did not trust myself to enjoy life without wine, and that seems funny to me now, but it was terrifyingly real at them time.

My sober journey has been anything but sombre and joyless. It has been revealing. enriching, full of growth, and surprises. I wish I had done it years ago but the journey is the journey and I am filled with gratitude that I did it at all.

Jung once described addiction as a raging spiritual thirst and this rings a clear and perfect note of truth to me. I didn’t exactly wake up one day suddenly believing in God but slowly I started to witness the miracle of life. I started to notice the tiny buds of dew on native flowers, the wash of sunset of ancient rocks and the sheer miracle of diving in to a perfect aqua ocean. I spent my first year of sobriety travelling and immersed in nature, so that my sober journey is quite literally entwined with my wakefulness to nature.

It is not religion I have found but a quiet sort of wonder in the world, a deep and profound love for what Dyaln Thomas referred to as “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower”. How did drinking make me blind to this? I am not sure I have the answer to that yet, or maybe I do, but I can’t yet articulate it. All I know is that sobriety has turned me in to a romantic poet, wandering along marvelling at leaves and branches.

My life is so very far from boring. I have found myself in my dream job teaching kindy and primary school gardening and cooking in the Stephanie Alexander Kids Kitchen Garden program. Considering I have never gardened a day in my life, or taught, it is amazing that I got the job. I have since found out that they fell for my passion and trusted me to work out the rest.

The Japanese have a wonderful word called Ikigai. Ikigai can be roughly translated as your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. It is your purpose and your drive. It is believed that everyone has an Ikigai but not everyone will find it. Sobriety delivered me my Ikigai.

I have discovered a love of teaching and at 43 I am delighted to finally know what I want to do when I grow up. I also teach youth art three days a week and have become a mentor to a bunch of wonderfully talented teens. To say that this would never have been possible in my drinking days is such an understatement. I found joy, and she sent me packing down the path of discovery.

It hasn’t all been perfect, just in case I am painting it that way. I had to learn to relax without wine and that took nearly a full year. I was enjoying my sobriety and wakefulness to nature but I would sometimes get a wave of irritability at night. I have always been a pretty calm person so this aspect of myself was difficult to take, I hated it, and felt like I had very little control over it. Sometimes it wouldn’t happen for weeks or even months and then I would get busy or stressed and whoosh it would come over me. I am happy to say that it has completely gone. I do a lot of meditating these days and I think my body has finally learnt to relax without wine.

And o.k maybe I am a bit boring. I like to be in bed by 8.30 pm. I hate going out at night. It’s not the drinking I mind, but my desire to leap out of bed fresh and ready to run or do yoga has become the focus of my life. When I do socialize I try to meet for lunch or morning tea, or walk on the beach.

Sobriety is a gift that keeps on giving. It has profoundly changed my life. Expanded my parameters and healed some of the dark broken places within me. On a purely superficial level it has changed the way I look. I know a lot of alcoholics turned to sugar (and that’s great) but for me, I suddenly realised if I possess the strength and willpower to give up alcohol I can give up anything I want – so I gave up sugar, meat, wheat and dairy. I lost 11 kgs and I look years younger than I did before. Who needs Botox!!!

I am a yoga loving, green juicing Goddess who meditates and spreads love and compassion. I am two years sober. I am so proud of myself. I am freaking awesome !!

Today is a day of reflection and quiet celebration. I will treat myself to a health magazine and sneak off to the beach café at lunch time. I will meditate on renewal and growth and I will pray that people can find the courage to quit drinking and let their bright, broken and beautiful selves shine through.

Peace and plants.

Bell xxxx

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