7 Years of Sobriety: The Power of Choice

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June 2014: Moustache man danced with his shoulders circling backwards as if he was engaged in an armless backstroke on the dance floor. His Cree lips were puckered without the intention of giving directions but rather to emphasize his sexual prowess.
The night before him and I had a real conversation regarding my two year sobriety and what led me to choose the sober life. My answer: I wanted to live.
I was overtired and anxious but I still went out dancing for a second night after an all day conference. I wanted to keep up with the crowd of drinking people. Trying to keep up is always a bad choice. Once in the bar I wanted my anxiety to disappear and began to eye the bottles of Alexander Keith and imagine the taste of a rye and coke on my tongue. I shifted quickly into a game of chance.
If this guy with the blonde hair offers to buy me a drink I will take it.
If a man walks in the bar wearing a sombrero it’s a sign I am allowed to get shitfaced.
If the woman in the black dress falls in her killer heels during this song I take a shot.
None of these things happened. The anxiety rose in my chest. A tiny lady wearing a cowboy hat that merged into our group announced she was buying tequila shots for everyone. This. Is. My. Chance.
If the tiny woman hands me a shot. I will take it.
The rounds showed up on the table and I stood silently on her peripheral without making any sudden movements. I had to leave this totally up to chance. I couldn’t interfere or reposition myself. The woman handed shots out to the twelve or so people and then turned to me.
“Here you go sweetheart,” she said.
I held the small cool shot glass in my hand. The tiny woman was making some kind of toast but I was no longer listening. I stared at the light brown liquid that was so close to being to my lips.
Moustache man was inebriated and grooving on the other side of the table. With the music blaring and the tiny woman continuing her long winded toast, Moustache man looked and me and stopped mid-groove. He pointed his finger across the table at me and said one word: No.
He immediately started dancing again after the one word left his lips and his lips resumed their Cree pucker. No one else around the table noticed him do this, they were all engaged in the tiny woman’s toast to her new friends. I don’t even think Moustache Man realized he did this. I placed the full shot glass down on the table, quietly grabbed my purse and headed outside to hail a taxi back to my hotel.
*
When I want to fuck up I will leave my choice to chance. I believe in divine intervention. I believe in crossroads presented to us. We always have a choice. Healing and long-term sobriety is not composed of one giant decision but rather a series of small continuous choices to maintain power and balance in our lives. When I was active in my addiction I was a tornado of compulsion. I did things on automatic pilot, oblivious of my own power to choose. I had believed in my loss of power since I was a little girl and was sexually abused and choice was taken from me. I didn’t understand choice. I knew what it meant to be powerless. I submitted myself to the idea that I was choiceless because of external circumstances. I had years of living with this false belief and years to become a giant powerful tornado of compulsion. It would take me years to relearn that everything is a choice and to remember my power. I am in a constant state of remembering. The storm has subsided, and I am aware that each day I have the choice to continue to pursue healing, to remain stagnant, or to regress into past behaviours.
I have already lived in the depths of misery and failure. I want to experience total freedom and love. This is my choice.
*
I am seven years sober today. I am grateful for each one of those days, even the hard ones. Beyond sobriety I engage in choices all of the time and am in a state of contemplating how these choices serve, or don’t serve me… or what purpose they serve.
There are parts of me that still want to seek out safety and keep the world out. I am in the process of dismantling these barriers. The barriers look like thoughts like these:
“I’m not smart enough to do that”
“I will wait until I am _______ to start that”
“I’m too chubby right now”
“I’m not pretty enough”
“There are so many people that do what I want to do but better”
“I am not talented enough”
The purpose that these thoughts serve is to keep me small and safe. There is a part of me that wants to remain in her comfort zone. There is a part of me that would rather have her lofty dreams washed out of her head overnight so she could resign herself to a life that is “good enough” and find some form of contentment there. The negative false thoughts above keep me there. They keep me safe from the feelings of rejection, of failure, of hurt. But those feelings aren’t a death sentence and if I remain rooted in truth, they don’t really carry the sting they seem to have from the outside looking in. Lately I have been utilizing the same sabotage mechanisms that seek to hold me in a stagnant state to dismantle themselves. I am sabotaging my own sabotaging.
“I’m not smart enough to do that”
Me, “Nahhh…. Get it girl”
“I am not pretty enough”
Me: “Babe, pull on your inner Maya Angelou. Internal beauty shines through externally. Own that shit Ma”
There are days I still want outside approval and acceptance. I have been reasserting that the only acceptance I need is my own. I sit in this truth on days like today but I have moments where I slip back into anxiousness and hold the desire to be liked like crumbs in my open hands awaiting the flock to come. There are days I am unsure of myself.
Every day I make a choice to believe I am enough.
Even when I don’t feel like I am enough, I take actions that reflect that I am because no matter what I am thinking I have learned the truth. I try my best to operate from my truth no matter where my thought processes take me because I know that they are not the truth.
All of these small choices contribute to keeping me sober and on a continual path of healing. Sobriety isn’t a single choice made XX number of years ago. Sobriety is many choices made daily. Sobriety is chosen over and over again. Sobriety is sabotaging your relapse by choosing to keep yourself well when you first feel your grip start to slip.
Last summer I fantasized about cocaine a few times within the space of a month when I learned of my Mom’s cancer diagnosis. I didn’t ignore it. I chose to get myself a counsellor. I chose to feel my feelings. I chose healing over destruction.
Only I have control over my reactions. Only I can walk into the fire or pit of my emotions to retrieve myself from there and lead myself to a safe place. Creator obviously has a hand in all of this. Often I will say a prayer when the task ahead seems to big, “Okay Creator, well you led me here and I followed. I don’t know if I can do this but I am trusting you and praying that you make me enough”.
I am human but when I rely on the divine I am capable of all things.
Except for keeping a constant theme of choice within this posting…. Haha. But it’s my blog and rant so I do what I want.

Happy 7 years to me, and to the woman I was 7 years ago… You have come home to yourself babe. You were always capable. To those of you struggling right at this very moment. I see you. Don’t make sobriety a monumental thing, break it down to small choices you can make every moment. Choose to call a sponsor. Choose to go to a meeting. Choose to not go out. Choose to feel your feelings – I promise it won’t kill you. Choose to do something that reflects that you love yourself – even if you don’t feel like you do. Choose to be brave in a moment and admit that you need help. Choose to live one more moment. Choose life babe. Choose life.

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One comment

  1. Congratulations! I’m at 4/5 months myself now and I still see positive changes every day – most often when I imagine a side-by-side of myself now vs. 6 months ago. I’m so grateful to enjoy each experience separately, rather than one big haze.

    I can’t imagine how many incredible things must have happened in your 7 years of sobriety, here’s to another year! CK x

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