How Giving Up Booze Helped Me Reclaim My Identity
This month I celebrate three years of sobriety. Can I just say WOW
On one hand, I can't believe it's been this long, and I'm so proud that I've made it this far. On the other, life before sobriety is a distant memory, a completely different lifetime ago.
I'd like to share my story with you: what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now. While I'm not necessarily an advocate for getting sober, I am an advocate is making decisions that will significantly improve your life. For me, getting clean three years ago was a turning point in my life, and set me on the path of achieving everything I desire.
With that, here's my story, and why sobriety is one of the best decisions I've ever made:
It was Thanksgiving Day, and internally, I was suffering. I missed my family but I was also angry at my family. The emotions were just under the surface but they were bothering me. At a party with friends, I can remember anxiously waiting for the first beer to arrive. "I want it NOW!" I thought. Once I got it, I was off! The memories of that night are hazy, but the shame I woke up with told me it wasn't good.
Dread. Despair. Embarrassment. Sadness. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I woke up in this state.
For whatever reason, though, this particular morning was different. November 25, 2011. Although it carried a resemblance to mornings I'd experienced in the past, it also carried something new: ugly truths that I had to come face-to-face with. For the first time, I knew that I could not control my drinking. As long as I continued to drink, I would have many other mornings that felt like this. I knew I couldn't live with myself if it happened again.
I had to get out. Yet the thought of making this change was completely terrifying! "Who am I if I don't drink? What will I do if I don't drink?" My identity was so wrapped up in drinking culture, I literally had no idea who I would be if I gave it up. And I also knew I couldn't continue with it.
Luckily, there was a message inside of me that was faint, fearless and strong. It said, "Shelly, if you quit, you'll be more powerful than you've ever been before. Life hasn't even begun for you."
Difficult thoughts not withstanding, I knew this was true. And so, clutching that belief, I started the journey, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, climbing my way out.
I've read that when people hit their bottom they experience an awakening, or a shattering of reality as they once knew it. It's like you wake up in your bedroom and you look out the window but it's not your neighborhood that you see: it's Oz. It looks familiar, but everything has changed. This phenomenon is very difficult to explain, but it happened to me.
My vision of myself completely changed. It's like I broke through a layer of consciousness. Everything looked different from that day forward.
Today, I can proudly (and with tears in my eyes) tell you that I'm still sober. How do I do it? One way: I connect to my higher power (love, truth, soul, spirit, and yes… God) within.
I know God can be a touchy concept, but to me God simply signifies the energy of love in us all. In other words, God is an essence within us. At least in my experience. It's not something outside of me that's dictating my fate. It is me, the highest version of me. When I connect to this source by practicing the principles of love, I'm aligned to God, and life is damn good.
Anytime I drank or used drugs, I did it to "get high," to feel a heightened sense of being, to transcend the ego (boredom, lack, despair) and to feel love. Alcohol and drugs could give me a high temporarily, but with a lot of consequences. A spiritual connection transcends the ego altogether. It's really some good s#*t.
My spiritual practice is the best high there is, and it keeps me sober. What I've learned from this journey is that anytime I was seeking anything outside of myself to feel good, what I really wanted was to be connected to love. That's what we're all seeking all the time.
I encourage you to make decisions that will set your life on the right path. Put one foot in front of the other and take it one day at a time. Trust your inner guidance because you (and your soul) know the way. Accept that you can be the person you know you're meant to be, and you will set the world on fire.
Please leave a comment below telling us about one time you felt an awakening, an a-ha moment or a feeling of transcendence. We would love to hear from you. If you'd like to know more about how I can help you awaken to your highest self, sign up here.