I will be nine months sober as of 10 pm tonight.* Nine months. While not as recognized as other sobriety benchmarks, this one is significant to me. Nine months is how long it takes for the mamas out there to create and bring new life into the world. I have never been a mother and will never be. It is not a calling that I have ever heard. Still, this time mark is significant to me. Because sobriety too means making a life out of nothing, though in a very different way. I do not live in a haze anymore. And it is strange because nine months sober seems like a moment and an eternity all at once.
I feel things shifting. I do not need to focus singularly on my sobriety anymore. It is my priority always, my cornerstone, but I know what that means now. It means meditating daily and exercise, eating well and taking breaks when I need it. It means community and investing in my friendships. It means boundaries always and curiousness always. I am learning and starting to see things differently. As summer starts it feels like things are changing. I am in a new position at work and it feels hopeful. It feels like a place where I can be grounded, at least for a moment. In my personal life, I am sitting in discomfort in classes to learn to dismantle my racism and internal biases. I am learning about the hurt and pain I've caused and owning up to it. I am reading and writing and having difficult conversations. I am loving my loved ones and letting my heart break everyday.
There is a Glennon Doyle piece where she talks about those of us who deal with addiction or mental illness as being canaries in a coal mine. We feel things more acutely and while it may look like we're "too sensitive" in moments where everyone else can't see the pain we feel, we are the people who will stand up first because we will notice the pain in others. And with the world the way it is, that matters. It is a massive gift and a massive responsibility.
See, we’ve been born in a time when nothing seems certain. We are warriors just for living and trying to make a life among this chaos. But that is not enough. Not anymore. I am learning that I do not get to be a General in the revolution, but I do have an obligation and a duty to be a foot solider. That the people who need to lead are those who have been fighting a much harder battle than mine, for far too long. There is an old story about soldiers wearing red so that no one would see that they are bleeding. But I don't think that's the way. I think we need to show our wounds. I think we need to own up to the wounds that we cause, whether we meant to cause them or not. Because the end result is the same, and a life built on the pain of others is not a life.
Those of us in the addiction community have been gifted with hope and defiance and the wild-spiritedness that fringe community brings. The unstoppable quality of a group of outsiders when they've finally found their tribe. We have found resilience, empathy, and so much humble love in our hearts as we shed those things we used to hide behind. In my old life, I wore my hurt and baggage like armor and a cinch to keep me from breaking apart. But the thing is, at a certain point, I was too hurt to not try to be brave. I had nothing to lose you see. And maybe neither do you. So, fight and love and learn and surrender with all of that pain and that fear and that hope so big that it doesn't always seem real. Being awake and alive right now means feeling like the world could end at any second. It means knowing that that isn't a bad thing. Because this? This world where we constantly hurt each other, where we climb over each other like crabs in a pot, pulling each other back down rather than lifting each other up? It is broken. Massively broken. And there is so much work to do.
We must push forward. Slowly but constantly, so that when the opposition tires, we will gain ground. We must support each other inch by inch, mile by mile. It's time for us to own our strength and carry those who have carried us for so damn long. Because ours is a flame that burns all the brighter in numbers.
Nine months of sobriety and I am still here, but I will never be the same. My sight is clear. My focus clear. And I am not tired. This is the life that I am building. And it is messy and awkward and sweaty, but it is mine. I see what it can be. And that is something to fight for.
**Ah! I posted this on 6/24/2018, and my 9 months was actually 6/25/2018. I got my days wrong in calculating and wanted to make sure I fessed up about it. Love you!