My 2nd Sober Christmas
Originally posted on Medium,com - December 23, 2020
I made it. 2 years alcohol free.
I spent Christmas 2018 in hospital, recovering from a failed suicide attempt, and detoxing from alcohol. Acknowledging recovery milestones during the holidays can be tricky. What do I celebrate and how?
Last week, in my journal post — A Letter To Me on my website, I went into detail about what I’ve learned in 2 years, and the things crucial to my recovery. Part of acknowledging milestones is taking stock of where I am today.
I’m glad I’m here, but it’s still hard work. Some days there are an abundance of internal pep talks, as I push myself to believe in a brighter future. Motivating myself to go on is no longer a 24-hour job, but a job it remains.
It has taken me years to build a recovery plan that works for me, and yes, there are many days when I simply have to treat it as work. I have made it my job, but a job I love. A career that fills my own mental health needs and my need to create.
I grow my website, write my posts, and share myself online, because it’s a cornerstone of my recovery. It forces me to be positive and often lifts me up when I feel defeated. I’m sure sometimes my rah-rah words seem forced, because they probably are! Sometimes at least. I think most of us have to force ourselves away from negative thoughts. I do it by writing.
While I publish everything, everywhere, for others to read, I never lose focus on why I do it. I am the primary target of my work and when it resonates with other readers? That’s fantastic when it happens, but I’m not crushed when my posts get no response. I would have quit a long time ago if that were the case!
Writing keeps me honest. When I’m writing, I can’t hide behind the words, even when I try. The pesky truth sneaks out somewhere between the lines. I love this about art. The creator’s truth is always in there… somewhere in a writer’s choice of words or in the unintended stroke of the painter’s brush.
Finding Something Worth Celebrating
I was off yesterday. By off, I mean grumpy-pants off. Agitated, short-tempered, and negative. It’s the time of year when I feel most alone and detached from the world. I won’t harsh your mellow with a sad-sack diatribe about my disaffection with the holidays. It’s just a truth of mine and I am aware of it.
This year I have a lot to do. I have several projects on the go, 3 books, some articles, short stories for submission, query letters, my website, graphics, social media, and fun things like podcasts to host and others to be on. My poor Scrivener, my author’s software, has 6 projects open and my web browser 8.
2 years ago, about this time, I had reached the end of a life I could no longer live, and would soon be in an ambulance on to the hospital. I couldn’t even hold my phone.
In my agitated state, I stopped and took in the abject chaos on my computer screen and my mind shifted into a positive acknowledgment of how far I have come.
All this writing, the open projects, and these plans are signs of how alive I am.
That is worth celebrating. I’ll choose that.
Choosing How to Celebrate.
I never had a cake or anything like that on my first sober birthday. I’m not having one this year either, but I will acknowledge it my own way, by giving myself a break from being a person in recovery. Just for today, I am recovered.
I’ll go out for a round of sloppy winter golf with my friends. These friends know me only as I am now and to them, I’m just Dave. Not the old Dave or new Dave, just the simple guy I am today.
Passionate about recovery, I am a cheerleader for other addicts and alcoholics who are trying to get clean. I have empathy for those still inflicted. In sobriety, I will always be a voice for the recovery community, and I wear the suit I have sewn with the needles and thread of my own horrid experiences. I tell my story in my own words — I have earned that much.
I live every day as a suicide survivor, a recovering alcoholic, and someone who is trying to build a livable life. It’s part of who I am, and always will be, but I’m going to take one day away from the daily challenges a messy past provides me.
To me, that sounds like the best way to celebrate my sober birthday and being alive… as me.
Just a man of the present, unburdened of yesterday and unexpecting of tomorrow.
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Disclaimer - I base my articles on my own personal experience as a recovering alcoholic and addict. I share about what has helped me, what I have learned about myself, and are to provide insight into my recovery. I encourage anyone struggling with mental health and addiction challenges to consider talking to a professional clinician. You are worth it.