As some of you may know, I had 5 years of solid sobriety starting on 2009. However, in 2014 I drank again. My relapse lasted a very long time. A long 2+ years, in fact. As difficult as it was to be stuck in those 700+ days of hell, now I know that every day was needed. Every single one.
Why do I say this? Well…my story today comes from getting down and dirty with my disease during that time. As hard as I tried to get sober again through meetings and my beloved 12-steps, I could NOT do it. I tried everything. I KNEW I had to let my Higher Power do what I couldn’t do for myself, but it was just not happening. I would go to meetings, call my sponsor, do the steps…and I could only score a month of sobriety at a time.
I felt ashamed – not just for relapsing, but for “not doing something right”. I kept thinking that if I were doing things “right” the obsession to drink would be removed. Inevitably, this (very loud) shaming inner-voice took me straight to a bar. Over and over again.
Today, I am really glad that I could not get sober with the basic program. I am glad I had to get curious, so I would dig deep.
There was something missing. I had to find what it was. I started to look closely at the speed in which I went from being stone-cold sober to “making the decision” to have “just one drink” on any given day. It was as if I had no sense of accountability to myself. At all. The way I barreled over my own promises was astounding. There was zero integrity with myself. Zero sense of self-love, self-belief… There was NO connection with the woman I thought I was.
This connection to my inner self – mind, body and soul – was SO SO broken, that nothing coming in from the outside would “stick”. Not a meeting, nor a doctrine, nor a fellowship…nothing. The precious decision to surrender and “do the work”, otherwise known as step 3, was just impossible to do. Nothing sticks to a broken canvas.
I could not make any decision on a personal level when my inner-person was so shattered.
Without knowing what I was doing, I started a process of getting connected to myself in the midst of chaos. With a God-given instinct of survival, I started focusing on breathing, pausing, meditating. I would go through my first sober days honoring my emotions (lots of crying), writing and just plain being present to what was happening inside me. Some days, all I wanted to do was curl up, cry and sleep. Other days, I had to do a lot of yoga and sweating and screaming in the shower (I know, its a weird visual, but true). The process of re-connecting to MY BODY was KEY in the process. Because addiction is disconnection. So I had to re-connect to my physical being, which resulted in a pathway down to a spiritual connection with my heart. In this space, in this clearing, I found a new ground on which to build.
Soon, the 12-steps and everything else started to work their magic in me once more. I had cleared enough space for God to come in and do His thing. Because make no mistake, I did not sober up alone, He did it for me. I just had to “prep” the ground for this to happen. Now, I could anchor my old tools (12-step program and fellowship) into a bit of a new framework. I was still broken, but I was doing stuff on the side to tend to ME. I was giving myself huge doses of self-compassion, self-forgiveness and self-love. I was recovering through the 12-steps, but with added tools and a new approach.
Slowly, one hour at a time over many months, recovery started to grow roots that were bigger, heavier and much sturdier than in my “first round” of sober years. The kind of roots that feel safe and real.
My nature is to seek an anchor outside of myself, whether it is through a drink, a relationship or any other quick fix. It is going inside that is hard. But that is where I find my truth, and the best version of myself. That is where I find God. That is where He makes me whole and sober, one day at a time.
While I am not saying that 700 days of drinking are needed (try to stick with a couple, if you can!), I am saying that you should honor your own process. I am also saying that you should look at the state of YOU, inside. I am saying that the world will NOT put you back together if you do not do it yourself. And I AM saying that you need to begin with healing, compassion, forgiveness and kindness for your soul, your heart and your body. Nothing sticks to a broken mirror. Start getting your soul-glue out.There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this. It begins with YOU.
So. Cheers to my 700+ days of drinking, because they were all needed for me to get here today. Trust the Process. Get curious. Find yourself. Get accountable to you. Let God in. Do the work. And no matter how many times you fall – never, never give up.