3 Years Sober

Me, at the Charles Bridge in Prague, March 2014.  Travelling sober rules cause you actually remember where you've been.  Seriously. 

Today I am three years sober.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my story.  I came out of the alcoholism closet here and wrote a bit on recovery here.

Essentially, I'm an add-water alcoholic.  From the time I started drinking (around 15) I never wanted to stop.  It filled up a void inside me.  I protected and justified my drinking with doing well in school, in university (two degrees), being successful and appreciated in my career, never losing a job due to drink, never being in an accident etc.  But the mental torture was killing me and I was drinking more and more, (at the end, around the clock) so eventually, at the age of 31, I limped into recovery.  That was way back in 2003.

My experience in recovery has had both ups and downs.  I got married while sober (great!), I was pregnant and had my daughter while sober (awesome!), my marriage didn't work out (not great!), I went back to work full-time while being a single mom (stressful!).  For a two year period between 2009-2011 I had a series of short but very significant and stressful full-blown relapses which I was grateful to come out of, finally, on 31 August 2011.  I very much needed to sort out some mild trauma I had experienced and was lucky to see an excellent addictions counsellor in Dublin.  I haven't looked back.

So today, as I enter my 4th year of sobriety I am thankful for many, many things.  Being in recovery doesn't just mean being sober,  it means being happier than I ever was drinking.  I didn't get sober to be miserable.  One of the first things I noticed when I got sober was that there are so many more hours in the day.  When you're perpetually on the being hungover / being drunk / salivating for a drink merry-go-round it doesn't seem like there's ever enough time to do what you need to.  Because you're drunk, stupid.  Getting sober (to me) means getting my life back and getting to do all the things I talked about when I was drinking but never moved off the barstool to actually do.

It also means being present.  When I wake up in the morning, I'm not hungover.  How many mornings did I spend sick with The Fear, not capable to doing anything but torturing myself with how stupid I must have acted the night before? Its a gift to wake up sober, feeling good and ready for the day.  To be wholly present for your kids and the loved ones in your life. One of the things I've noticed recently is that I am more and more able to do things quickly and easily without making a big deal out of them or making everything into a production.  This is my own progress.

School lunch & snack: active parenting is a helluva lot better (and easier) when you're not hungover and/or still pissed

And today, I'm very grateful this is my day (literally today): waking up feeling good, look out the window and see blue skies (yay!); feed & play with the cats; make coffee; sweep kitchen floor; do laundry; write a bit; change the kitty litter, clean the cat's food area; check the garden; (all before 11am on a Sunday!) check the news; doss on the inter webs; do the weekly shop and get ready to go collect my daughter from her dad.  Be so excited to bring her home & spend time with her.  My daughter knows that I'm allergic to alcohol in the same way my mom is lactose-intolerant.  She is not ashamed about it because I am not ashamed about it.  I had a lot of self-shame when I was drinking and I don't need that shame now.

I was taught in the treatment centre I attended that there are milestones in recovery, that at different stages being sober (for months, then years, etc) people can go through the same processes (like, using dreams, sugar cravings, emotions coming back, dealing with random cravings etc).  I don't know what the next year will offer but I'm positive about it because today I'm sober, I'm content and I am so grateful.  Being in recovery has been so good to me that I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

My damn garden would never look like this if I were drinking.

Purple & white marjoram/oregano, green sage, mint & thyme

Pumpkins, courgettes, onions, leeks, lettuce, oh my! 

The yellow, gold & red sunflower are just about to bloom 

If you want to contact me regarding living through alcoholism and / or recovery, you can find me on Twitter, @KathO'Meara.




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