Life is hard even without the drink. It’s how we choose to experience our life that creates our reality.
My four year anniversary of sobriety is coming up on March 8. I haven’t had a drink, a drug, nyquil, painkillers, or any other kind of mood altering substance in 4 years. People mark their sobriety in different ways, but I also really hate cold medicine so it’s been drug free as well.
Four years ago, I thought my life was hard because I drank a lot of wine and literally couldn’t show up for life. But after four years of living life on the straight edge, I can report back that life is hard in general. There are these amazing highs and then some pretty sad lows. You gain things, you lose them. You fall in love with someone you want to spend the rest of your life with but get fired from your dream job in the process. It’s a series of tradeoffs. I am one of those people that strives to find meaning and the lesson in every single experience but when I look back over the past year, I see the sum of my experiences as being necessary to find myself in a relationship and finally come to terms with the fact that I have an overwhelming need for the people in my life. Because throughout everything, it was really the people that brought me back to life. The last time I was unemployed was 2006 and I drank myself into a hole that year. Being unemployed sober is a much different place.
Things I went through over the past year without a drink:
-On my anniversary last year, I found out I was getting fired from a job that I loved. I was asked to stay at my job for an extra three months knowing that they were firing me and there was nothing I could do about it. I officially lost my dream job two days after my 33rd birthday.
-I fell in love for the first time in my life.
-I have been unemployed for the past nine months and been on about 15 interviews, 5 of those were 2nd and 3rd interviews. Three times, I was told that I was the final candidate only to find out I wasn’t.
-I ran out of money and couldn’t pay my rent or bills for a couple of months.
-I took a couple of vacations with my boyfriend. This is scary in the fact that I have been unemployed and also never taken a vacation with a man. It’s fucking hard.
-I introduced my boyfriend to my family and he loves them despite my complicated history with them.
-I told a man I loved him for the first time ever and he didn’t say it back until about 3 months later. I took a chance and was rejected the first time but I hung in there and waited for him to develop his feelings.
-Doing nothing for the past nine months. Feeling a sense of loss over not having a career. My life has been pretty stalled and I literally sat in my apartment and stared at my wall for three months.
-I learned how to need people, how to let friends in and ask for help.
-After applying to the same organization and interviewing for 9 months, I accepted a new job two weeks ago.
-I started looking into my issues with money and people including my own self-worth. It’s been a pretty painful process but I am ready for my life to change on a fundamental level.
-Learning how to take care of myself in a relationship. When we first got together, I abandoned my life for his but slowly over time it’s all been coming together.
My real take away from this past year of loss is that I create my life. I didn’t gain any physical assets or money but I learned a lot about me, what I need and how to be in a healthy, vulnerable and intimate relationship with another person.
I lost my job and had to give up a lot of things that I loved but I also got to take time off and recharge. I slept in a lot and fell in love. Falling in love feels like you are going insane, it was nice having time off to process a lot of the fear and triggers that came up for me getting into a relationship. My life had to get really small in order for me to step into my own power.
My only real goal for the next year is to live in the present moment. I have spent a lot of my sobriety working towards goals and things without really enjoying my life. I want to know what it feels like to just enjoy life without constantly working towards the next big thing.