Today I am 10 years sober! Here's what I have learned during all the years of my hard fought sobriety.
1. I am a very watery person. Tears come easily and feeling sad or tender is a common go-to reaction for me. It's a tendancy I think I spent years trying to squash (with my disfunctional 'friend' booze) but after years of not numbing or avoiding my true self with wine I've grown to accept and even (dare I say it) love that part of myself.
2. Adopting a 'go slow' attitude when strong emotions hit is really helpful. For so many years my instant reaction when I felt something uncomfortable was to immediately take a drink (or 5). Since quitting I've had no option but to go slow and just let things sit. The longer I've done this the more I've realised how beneficial it is. Allowing time and space around gritty feelings makes them easier to deal with.
3. All the things that matter the most are inside me. How I see myself is more important than worrying about how others see me. Understanding my own feelings is more important than trying to figure out how others might be feeling. Feeling kindly towards myself keeps me strong and helps me maintain kindness to others without resentment.
4. Tiny, subtle self-care actions are incredibly powerful and lovely. I never underestimate the positive impact of stopping tasks to make myself a cup of tea (using fancy teabags I ordered online), or the deliciousness of taking a sneaky hour or two on the sofa to watch TV on a weekday afternoon. I have no guilt for prioritising my own needs, and no shame about what activities or consumables work best to relax me.
5. Speaking of shame, I have learned that despite there being a huge amount of stigma around addiction, everyone admires and respects people who admit their struggles. Tell someone you're in recovery and you go up in their estimation, not down! Also, sharing your truth - whether it be with thousands of people or three - helps to build inner strength and resilience.
6. We can do whatever we want with our lives. Literally anything. If we want to change, we can. If we want to stay the same, we can. Whatever we choose, we can do. But finding the right people, tools and resources to support us in doing what we want is vital.
7. We are living in a time of utter madness with society's approach to alcohol. The fact that this toxic, addictive, cancer-causing drug has become so normalised, accepted, prevalent and glorified is gobsmacking. I have no doubt that around the world governments will slowly tighten regulations to disempower the liquor industry and stop them being allowed to carry out their predatory and aggressive sales tactics. And people in the future will look back at this time of alcohol saturation and widespread harm and shake their heads at the madness of it all.
8. No glass of alcohol has ever tasted as good as sobriety feels. No stumbly drunken dance feels as enjoyable as a wild, clear-headed boogie. No sloppy, boozy cry has ever cleansed as much as pure, raw tears. No tipsy giggle has ever produced as much joy as a deep, lucid belly laugh. And no blurry sense of affection impacts as deeply as a burst of whole-hearted, authentic love.
9. I love living sober. I love that I have forged my way through 3650 days without drinking. I love every single one of those days. Some have been rewarding, fun, joyful, exciting, gentle, stimulating, productive or calm. And some have been messy, gritty, boring, emotional, fraught, dramatic, painful or grief-stricken. But every single one has been a gift. And for that, I am immensly grateful.
10. Just when you think you've learned it all, more is revealed. I can't wait for the next ten years to unfold.
Mrs D xxx