I tried sobriety in fits and starts. If I'm honest, and I try to be now, a part of me thought it would never stick, while some tiny small part knew that it had to. On one of those attempts, I started meditating and writing because I didn't know what else to do with myself. White-knuckling it wasn't working. I would sit on the floor on a yoga block and fashion my hands into mudras that I didn't understand. I'd close my eyes and the thoughts would come rushing in. About how much of a failure I was and what unhappiness felt like, the terrible and beautiful question of what I was supposed to do now that I could no longer destroy myself. These thoughts were relentless, self-hatred, anger, pity, fear. The gang was all there and they had brought their friends.
In putting together posts, I've looked back through older things I've written and I found this, written after a particularly gruesome meditation in very early sobriety, many, many attempts ago:
"I wrote about a thing called 'Hope' and sometimes I even felt it. But the world floods in quickly when you open the gates. It makes you feel small, all of that feeling, and very, very fragile, in ways you did not think you could be. And it's confusing out here with so much pain blurring the lines of so much love. I cried on the floor the first time I felt it. Tears I couldn't really understand, but also couldn't stop. This is what it feels like, being alive. But, we dull all of this to keep it from breaking us down because we don't know that all we're really here for is to be broken over and over until we find something like grace. Everything else is a half-life, some kind of ghost existence. And I somehow knew all of this from the moment I opened my eyes. The world blurred, but also got brighter and I knew that I could not ignore what it meant to be real and feeling and alive in this crazy and messy place."
I would go back to drinking that time, but now with months of sobriety under my belt, I still feel this. It's been so much time and yet so little. Sobriety makes the world brighter, mostly in a way that's beyond any beauty I've ever seen, but sometimes in a way that hurts more than I've ever hurt. Going through life without numbing out is fucking hard. No more wine after bad weeks at work. No more gin when I'm in a fight with my mom or my husband. No more passing out. Checking out. No more. No more dark hole of forgetting to fall into when it's 2 am and I am afraid.
But, I have met and named every single one of my demons now. They are still there, but they are a little smaller when I look at them dead on. And I was right, that feels, to me, like something called hope. Hope for a life. For a future and a now where I am right here, in whatever that feels like. Where I don't need to escape or numb my own pain. A life without sedation.
When I was drinking, life soldiered on. This dull, stuck life where I couldn't seem to get out of my own way. I hurt people I care about, I hurt myself. I did a lot of stupid things that I'd laugh about in front of friends and then spend my sleepless nights reliving, feeling deep-down, how very worthless I was. I forgot my grandmother's birthday. I'd forgot to ask coworkers how their sick father was. The capacity for empathy and thoughtfulness was reserved purely for feeling sorry for myself. I tricked myself into thinking this was the easier way. That change would be too drastic, difficult, unsustainable.
And what I've found, in my limited experience, is that it is not less scary over here. In most of the ways that count, I am still that frightened girl fighting through the thoughts and discomfort of those quiet moments. But the hope does help. I'm not clawing my way out of the past anymore.
When I look back at that time, during what felt like my millionth failure, I just want to hug that girl. I love her so much, because she was fragile. Fragile enough to break so that she could be strong. She carried this girl that I am now on her back, and kept going when she thought she couldn't take another step. She carried her over the threshold of her own damn life. She saved herself. I saved myself. The fairytales aren't true, we're our own damn heroes. We're the only ones who can be.
In those moments, where you feel things so deeply that you think you will break, remember the hope that lives in being able to feel at all. We are here to be broken so that we can live. So that we can come back to ourselves again. And there is nothing more worthy than that, no one more worthy than you.