Today I’m celebrating 10 years clean and sober- a whole fucking decade since I’ve had a drink, drug, or real Dijon mustard. When I think about that last ten years (and the ten years before it) sometimes I feel like I’ve lived so many different lives in one it makes my head spin.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change my mistakes for anything. I have a wonderful life partner who treats me with respect, makes me laugh, and encourages me to be myself. I have a job that I genuinely love and look forward to going to where I get to spend time with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I have a beautiful home, amazing little furbabies, and a future to look forward to.
Has getting (and staying) sober always been a bundles of rainbows and butterflies and happiness? FUCK NO! It’s been tough (it still is some days). It’s been a huge learning experience and I’ve grown so much by going through it. There were lessons I wanted to learn and ones I fought tooth and nail but they all helped shape me to be the person I am right now, at this very moment, writing this post.
Coming up on such a big anniversary got me thinking about all the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years.
I’ve learned that starting over is fucking hard. No matter what way you slice it, any time you have to make huge changes in your life that flip your world upside down, it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be hurt. When I first got sober, I felt like I had to relearn everything- social skills, basic life functions, how to microwave burritos…everything felt like a challenge. I was emotional, scared, and lonely. Fortunately, my need to start over ended up in a place of positivity and love.
I’ve learned there will ALWAYS be people who refuse to accept the changes you’ve made in your life and will continue to see you as nothing more than your mistakes. There were people I was friends with in college who still brought up “that one time…” whenever I saw them. And my mother still brought up the same mistakes I made in my youth over and over again. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned I don’t need those people in my life.
I’ve learned it’s okay to ask for help and even more so that it’s okay to accept help when it’s offered. This one was particularly hard for me to learn and I’m still working on it. With the way that I grew up, I have always felt I had to take care of everything myself and I had to do it all. When it came time for me to get help, I’m very fortunate that I had friends in my life that came to my aid and didn’t let me refuse them. Now, I work on accepting help from my partner because the universe knows I need it and I’m so lucky to have someone to offer it to me (even when I’m being a stubborn ass).
I’ve learned that when you get sober, you’ll have to explain that you don’t drink…a lot- over and over again- often to the same people. And that’s okay. It’s good to say it out loud because it helps to remind yourself of where you’ve been and where you’re going.
I’ve learned laughter really is the best medicine. As corny as it sounds, if I hadn’t learned to laugh at myself, I wouldn’t have made it this far. It’s tiring trying to take life so seriously all the time!
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to put myself first. Whether it’s in small ways like setting aside time to unwind at the end of the day or in big ways like removing toxic relationships in my life.
Getting sober didn’t fix all my problems- far from it. What it did do was make it easier for me to deal with them instead of avoiding them (and making new ones in the process). I was finally able to take an inventory of whom I was around and think about what I could do to take better care of myself. It allowed me to finally reach a place where I could look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you’re pretty amazing.” Sure, I don’t feel like that every day but it’s a fucking start. And that’s all I can really ask for!
So cheers to another decade!