The gift that keeps on giving (Guest Post)

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. 


@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

  1. Nina 7 years ago

    Hi Bella,

    Just popped in here, as I am want to! Loved reading how life has unfolded for you as I remember when you made the change…so wonderful to hear how nature has been revealing herself to you more and that living a healthy life is coming naturally to you.
    I have a Stephanie Alexandar kids cookbook and what a wonderful thing to be teaching – a really progressive Australian programme. Must go and find it for some simple inspiration,
    ka kite,

  2. Anonymous 7 years ago

    On my path to sobriety, I log onto Mrs. D’s blog every morning to read words of wisdom and inspiration – this entry truly spoke to me! In the past, when I tried to give up drinking my nightly wine, I “white-knuckled” it. It was an exercise of will power and usually didn’t last too long. This time it’s different. Whether by divine intervention or through posts like this, I realized sobriety is a gift, not a punishment. I am so grateful for this change in mindset and for lovely posts like these that reinforce the message. Thank you!

    • BellaB 7 years ago

      I know – it’s so unnameable – this invitation to a better version of ourselves – I tried once before too – and I think I just wan’t done !! Congratulations on your mind set – I am soooo freaking happy for you – it really isn’t a punishment but an invitation to let in the light – go forth to your true beautiful self – I am so proud and happy for you xxxxxx

  3. hetiheti 7 years ago

    You are so freaking awesome that’s for sure xx

  4. Lizzy 7 years ago

    @bellab I love this post, thank you for inspiring me, and congratulations on all you’ve achieved. Xx

  5. Anonymous 7 years ago

    Thank you. This is just the inspiration I need as I near my one year mark.

    I am stuck on sugar as I wrestle (sucessfully) with a fuller more responsible work life. I am searching for the balancd as I gradually introduce old triggers and learn to manage them.

    A few last things to release a little more trust in myself and I will say good by to sugar as I did drink, I know.

  6. reena 7 years ago

    I love love this story, how good it makes me feel that life is beautiful on the other side! Usually what scares you is what holds you back the most… congrats and love on becoming the YOU, you were meant to be.
    Thank you so much. You are a gifted writer also.

  7. Annie59 7 years ago

    Love how you’ve embraced sobriety and have found purposeful meaning in new things. I’m just getting started on a journey to change my bad habits of drinking everynight to eliminating it, maybe not completely, but significantly. It’s overwhelming to think of “never again” Day 2 for me. I know it’s not much, but it’s 2 days of not having that poison coursing through my veins. Reading these blog posts gives me encouragement that I can do it and I don’t need booze to have fun. I’m consciously trying

    • BellaB 7 years ago

      HI Annie
      It was completely overwhelming for me to think of never again as well – i was so scared of not drinking, of never gain be able to drink. I honestly could not imagine my life without it. I had tried once before and only made it to 3 months. There was a part of me that was expecting to go back to it – but after about two weeks, I just knew I could do it. This place really helped. In AA they encourage you to take one day at time and I think there is great wisdom in that. The post i wrote really exemplifies the fact that never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could be so happy without booze. Good luck to you. Kia Kaha. You have taken the first amazing steps to a new life – you have so got this – love and red dirt xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. 20012015 7 years ago

    Thank you – your beautiful words have inspired me to find my Iikagi starting from tomorrow .

  9. Trace 7 years ago

    I can not tell you how much I love these words!

  10. SueK 7 years ago

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank You.

  11. Annielou 7 years ago

    You certainly ARE freaking awesome! Congratulations!

  12. Liberty 7 years ago

    Oh my goodness, that’s ridiculously inspiring Bella
    Perhaps you had a natural optimism setting before giving up or perhaps not; I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine being in the place you are but great to know it’s out there somewhere. Thanks for your lovely post.
    Maybe I could give up sugar….

  13. JM 7 years ago

    Beautiful!! Congrats on 2 years – amazing how bigger and happier your life is, and that there has been healing in the dark places. I can relate to that, as well as to increased awe of the natural world. Sobriety gives you your self back, and enjoyment of the simple, great things in life. Thanks for posting this inspiring piece and Mrs. D for putting it on the home page for all to read. xx

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