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I've had quite an awakening over the past two years. I went from being a party girl in New York City—out drinking every night—to a girl who lives in the burbs and goes to bed at 10pm. I knew I needed to change when I lost my job and was left with no other option than to move home to my family.
Once home, I proceeded to isolate myself and drink more. I drank alone in my childhood bedroom and looked for jobs. All seemed OK on the outside (minus the fact that I was unemployed and living at home at age 35), but inside, I was in deep despair.
I had a spiritual awakening the morning of June 29, 2011. Early that morning, after a night of drinking with friends, I heard a voice that I can only attribute to God telling me to quit drinking. That day, I made the difficult decision to get sober. Throughout this journey, I have met many wonderful people, become employed, and found my own apartment. I grew up. I have a long way to go, but I am on the right path.
Here are some lessons I've learned over the past few years:
1. My dad was right, nothing good EVER happens after midnight.
It might seem like a good idea at the time, but it's not the next day. I wish I'd believed this when I was at a late night after-hours party at some apartment on the Upper East Side with the sun coming up, work in two hours, drinking champagne, and wondering how in the hell I'd make my 9am staff meeting.
2. Mornings are wonderful.
I was the girl whose roommate had to pull her out of bed at 8:30am to run to the subway to make it to work by 9. Now I often run errands before work. I get to work on time (coherent and not hungover) and I practice yoga at the beach early Saturday mornings.
3. Life without booze can be fun.
I used to look down on people who did not drink; I thought they were boring. A date was not a date without multiple bottles of wine. I realized that I am still fun, probably more fun. I remember my conversations, can look a person in the eye, show up when I say I will, enjoy food, and don’t have to worry the next morning about what I did…and the list goes on.
4. Meditation and prayer are worth my time.
I used to pray only in an emergency, when I needed help or wanted something to go my way. Now I spend time praying and enjoying the peace and solitude. I actually pray for people when I say I will. I quiet my mind. I shut up for once. My God reveals all sorts of things to me when I take the time to listen.
5. Being single is not the worst thing in the world.
I have come to a certain peace about being single. I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed that I have not found the right one for me. I have a full life with activities, a meaningful career, friends, family and I'd rather be single than be in the wrong relationship. Living in the burbs where most people are married has been interesting, but I am content with my life and its fullness. I know that God has a plan for me and someday I will find my partner. Whether it happens tomorrow, next year, or in 10 years, that is not for me to decide. I have faith.
6. Having children will not make or break me.
I always thought by now that I'd have a husband and children. I don’t and that's OK. Children will not complete me, I am complete. If I am blessed with a child someday (whether my own or a step-child) I will embrace it, but for now I am happy being an aunt.
7. I am not ashamed to be a Christian.
I used to put my spirituality on a shelf for Sundays. Now it's a big part of who I am. My faith means everything to me, though I don't run around telling others what to believe or spouting Bible verses. I love my church family, I go to Bible Study, sing in the choir, pray, nd listen to Christian music. I love my Lord and have turned my life over to his care.
8. Family and friends are the most important.
My family and friends have really stood by me the past two years. They have been there for me in ways I cannot imagine. I feel grateful every day for them.
9. Being skinny is not the end-all-be-all.
I used to be really skinny, as in unhealthy skinny. That's no longer the case. In fact, I'd like to lose weight, but I am happy. If I were to get back to my college weight, it would not make me happy. People would not like me more. For now I have decided to focus on being healthy and loving towards myself.
10. Being authentic is what matters.
For 36 years, I was not myself. I was who I thought others wanted me to be. I was striving to be part of the “cool” crowd that I was never a part of in high school. I put a lot of stock into material things and status. It's sad and funny at the same. Today I am proud to be me. I would not trade lives with anyone. The things I have gone through have made me who I am today. They allow me to reach out and help someone else who has been through similar struggles. I am blessed to have finally taken off the mask.