• David Sales

1 Year Sober

I didn't know how I was going to feel today. After getting up early, when everything was quiet, I sat peacefully with my coffee as I do almost everyday now. I will admit to feeling a sense of accomplishment and hope.

Exactly 1 year ago I was in an ambulance headed to the hospital, a place where I would spend the next 7 days. It was during those long days and frightful nights, as my body went through the painful process of alcohol withdrawal, that I gave life just one more chance. With that decision, I gifted myself a year of sobriety, the courage to face my personal demons, and the willingness to accept my imperfections as a human being.

I know well that today is just one day and I have so much more work to do, but it is important that I can sit with this feeling of accomplishment - even if for just one day. In my skewed reality, nothing I ever did was good enough for me. I had spent my life chasing something but never finding it. There had to be more, but I didn't know what it was. I was on an impossible quest as one can't find something if they don't know what it is. So... just for today, I am going to stop and acknowledge what I have found this past year.

I have found freedom from the burden of expectation. I am finding more enjoyment in the work and less in the result. The success or failure of my personal endeavours, when measured by the expenditure of my efforts, makes it harder to fail. If I did my very best, did I really fail? I am comfortable to let others cast such judgement if they wish, but I don't need that approval anymore as only I know what feels right for me.

I have found the peace inherent in forgiveness. Through my work in recovery, many resentments have faded away and I'm choosing to remember positive memories of people, places, and things. Slowly too, I am letting go of some poisonous pills of shame and remorse, accepting my past and shortcomings, in an act of personal forgiveness. Good people do bad things sometimes, but the opportunity to do the right thing and clean up some of that remains.

I have found the value of humour. While I have been able to make others laugh, I rarely laughed myself. I am finding myself laughing more these days. Discovering the ability to laugh at myself is healing, and it sure as fuck beats crying. If we have an infinite amount of tears inside us, surely the same can be said of laughter. I think so.

I have found a sense of community. I am interacting with the world around me and no longer do I spend my days locked in a room, hidden and alone. I have found community with others in recovery, in recreation, and with friends old and new. I have people to talk to; I am available should others need me, and I make more of an effort to connect. I keep my heart open, as best I can, and I can love people without needing them to love me back.

And... as I sit and let this day settle in, I think I may have found some hope and an understanding of how important it is to never give up on yourself. I did that. I would have missed out on the many good things have happened this year and the possibility of good things to come. Life can be ugly and beautiful, each moment just part of a long journey if given the time. I guess we have a choice of what parts of it we want to focus on.

Tomorrow is another day, but today life looks just fine.