Three years sober.
Six years ago if you told me that I’d be writing those three words together, I never would have believed you. I’m 32 now and I’m confident that if I never chose to get sober, I wouldn’t live past my 35th birthday. Being sober saved my life. Sobriety gave my purpose and a newfound love for a living. I am so grateful for the strength to get sober and stay sober for the last three years. Sobriety gave me a new lease on life, it paved the way for love and the miraculously beautiful life that I currently call my normal. I am so lucky, so so lucky. I no longer think about alcohol, not even in my daydreams. I am not tempted by alcohol and I don’t miss it. My entire psyche is aware that alcohol will never ever be part of my life again and it finally respects that. The privilege of drinking alcohol has been taken away from me and I am at peace with that. I am no longer hurt when someone asks me why I’m not drinking and I must tell them that I am an alcoholic. These are big things when you’re in recovery, you know? However, the road in my recovery is still rocky and often at times, filled with new struggles.
I don’t know if this is the three years sober post you’re looking for, a lot of my recovery for the third year has had a lot to do with looking within and entering a whole new recovery that I’ll explain in this post. The third year of getting sober has been forcing me to figure out my emotional wounds and understand my past and present behaviour a lot more. It’s heavy stuff and I’ve spent a lot of time alone being present with my emotions and finally validating them. I’ve had to go deep within my wounds from childhood despite thinking in the past I was attuned to it all. I recognise that I clearly wasn’t, I was always running away from myself and using alcohol as a tool to numb my pain. Through reading this post I’d like you to understand that I am not angry or bitter, I am just trying to figure out how to transfer this energy into something positive for the future.
Inside, I am still healing, coming to terms with my addiction to alcohol which during the past year started to surface. I experienced many emotional flashbacks to my childhood, trauma that I had forced myself to forget and started to uncover the root cause of my pain, or as I refer to it, the hole in my soul. I then started grieving and only up until recently started to be slightly more at peace with it all. My grandfather also passed away at the beginning of the year and it affected me so deeply. He was 91, an alcoholic too but he quit the day I was born. We had 31 years together and over the last 5 grew closer, he was my cheerleader, while I was drinking and the moment I decided to stop. He quit alcohol just like I did, cold turkey after realising that life was just slipping away in faded drunken moments. He would often tell me he was proud that I quit, something my own father never said to me as he was too focused on the shame associated with my openness about my recovery. It was always preferred that I was silent.
This last year I have been grieving for my inner child and the love, validation and support I didn’t have growing up. I’m not a peace with the fact that I am admitting this and it’s probably the toughest thing I have ever written on my blog but the wound is open and I am not putting a bandaid on it anymore. I need to let it heal, I refuse to pass down my wounds to my children in the future the way it was passed down to me. I cannot deny the abuse any longer, nor can I play happy families to contribute to the perfect picture. In the end, I only continue to hurt myself. The glossy red apple has a worm in it and has my entire life.
The catch 22 to ‘having it all‘ is that now I am plagued with the idea that it will all be taken away from me at any given moment. I am absolutely terrified of losing my husband that I am often rehearsing worst case scenarios in my head that give me anxiety. I finally have this beautiful world around me, a loving partner who respects and understands me but I often think that this is too good to be true. It’s the kind of anxiety that keeps me up at night and I get totally freaked out by it. Sometimes I think that I don’t deserve what I have and fail to remember how hard I worked to get to the place I am in my life. Everything becomes overshadowed by this dark cloud of doubt. I hate it, I hate it.
I remember being with my last boyfriend, like almost a decade ago and he had this perfect, mature world around him. His friends were normal and emotionally intelligent, they had loving partners and great supportive parents and I always had this odd imposter syndrome feeling. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I always felt inferrior to the world around me. My boyfriend at the time loved me, maybe too much but our worlds were like chalk and cheese. He once told me that he knew that oneday he’d have to set me free. I never felt good enough to be with him and at that point in my life he and his world were better than me. Eventually the guilt of being an imposter crept in and I had to leave. It wasn’t meant to be but that feeling of unworthiness never left me. Of course, afterwards I derailed further over the years until I hit my crossroads at 29.
I have to ask myself, why? Why do I feel unworthy of what I have?
I am at a point now in my life and in my recovery where I am not afraid to ask why, it is an esential part to my personal development. Why did I feel the need to constantly punish myself for this feeling of inadequacy? Why was it normal for me to be so disposable with myself, where did this come from? Why was I cutting my wrists in my early teens and referring to this pain in my writing and counsellor reports? Why at a time in my life where I should have been thinking happily about my future was a thinking about suicide? Why did I always think I was never goood enough to be alive?
Now that I have a partner who has shown me what a healthy relationship looks like, I recognise that my whole life I have been alone and have always felt unsafe around people. This is one of the deepest wounds that I currently recognise. While I have a family, their love and support was always conditional. As the family scapegoat, it is no wonder I have this innate feeling of unworthiness and no wonder I resorted to drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. Nothing I do has ever been enough, still to this day my life is faulted. There is a fault in every choice I make. My feelings don’t matter. Everything is my fault, I am accountable for everything that isn’t right. My version of the story is not the real version of the story, it’s not the truth, even though the truth is subjective. When I recognise the gaslighting and refer back to different points in my life and the diminishing of my entire experience, I just want to hug that young girl.
It’s a toxic and dysfunctional cycle, one I have completely removed myself and this is the second grief I have had to deal with this year. It has both destroyed me and liberated me, I had to grieve the family I never had.
What am I doing about it?
These past 12 months I entered a whole new recovery for narcisstic abuse. It was far more confronting than alcohol addiction recovery because there were more people involved and they were prevalent in my life. In three years, I have changed a lot, especially in the last year. I am no longer stuck at my trauma age and I acknowledge that I have made some pretty shitty decisions in my life. But I have changed, I have evolved for the better and I will continue to evolve. I cannot continue to pursue a relationship with anyone who is stuck thinking that I am the same person, they never knew in the first place. People’s idea of me and who I really am are two totally different people. I am not catering for people stuck on the idea of me. Not everyone sits at my table or has sat at my table but these are the same people who share this narrative about who they think I am. So, recognising that there are two types of people in my life, those who actually know me and those who don’t but think they do was the start. This has also meant setting boundaries and cutting contact with those who displayed a lack of respect and accountability.
I then had to recognise my codependent habits and this need to get the approval and validation from people who will never ever give to me. I have always had a very unhealthy perception of my worth and relied on others to validate my existence in order to feel good enough. I had to learn to rewire my mindmap, reengineer my core beliefs. I am enough. I am worthy of love and success. I love myself.
I’ve been self hating for as long as I can remember, it was time to shed that layer of myself. It was not part of me anymore. I worked so hard to get sober and stay sober, I am living proof that life begins in sobriety, it’s something to celebrate and not hide.
I’ve spent a lot of time this year alone processing my thoughts and feelings. Some haven’t been easy, some I am still dealing with, others will surface later but I’ll deal with them. I have been studying, researching and learning about all of this. Self care is my number one priority. I wish I was the person I am today, my entire life but unfortunately that’s not the card of life I was dealt. Everything had to happen the way that it did. Awakening from within is very scary but it’s an essential part of growing. I always say that I am one of the lucky ones, I got out, I am free. I see things for what they are and not how I wish they would be.
As a child I would often daydream about how I wish my life would be, it was coping mechanism for me, it helped me survive. My real life now is that daydream, I just wish I could hug my inner child over and over and tell her thats everything will eventually be okay.