Today’s reflection is an expansion to a previous post of mine:
In addiction recovery, we learn that giving back to other alcoholics keeps us sober. One of the many things I like to do to give back is share my story at “speaker meetings.” Standing up in front of others in recovery and telling people what it was like for me before and after surrendering to my addiction to alcohol was one of the first things I discovered I was good at. I was not nervous about exposing the rawness of my emotions and wreckage of my past. It was freeing. I tell my story and I remember. When I remember, I don’t want to go back. So much of my life was ugly when I was in active addiction. Early on in my addiction, drinking worked. Until it stopped working. It became out of control- especially when I tried to control it more. As the years go by, that active alcoholic becomes more and more unrecognizable to me.
Before recovery, I was a burnt out soul existing in a human’s broken down body. Until speaker meetings, I believed I had nothing significant to offer the world. People who cared about me would try to boost my confidence. “Sarah, you have a beautiful heart that loves so deeply! That is your gift!” I could not hear that as a compliment because I hated my overly sensitive heart. That heart spent decades searching for someone to love me more than I could love myself. I believed that if I obtained that, then all my pain would melt away and I could love myself. The years of searching were only met with heart ache and abuse. I dated men who disrespected me. That makes sense to me now because deep down, I did not respect myself either. The heart and soul I was born with became an ever-increasing hole. Drinking was my way to try and fill that hole.
I also hurt people because I was hurt. I pushed away people with whom I would love to have a do-over. But I can not change the past, I can only move forward being the person I always wanted to be. I am grateful I got a second chance to live a better life.
When I share my story, my hope is that I may inspire someone who is either questioning their drinking habits, new in the program or who is struggling in their recovery. If I tell them about where I was, what happened, when, by some miracle, I woke up one day and decided that attending an AA meeting was a good idea, and finally, how recovery benefited my life, then maybe a seed will be planted. Once planted, perhaps that seed will grow into something amazing – a beautiful life never imagined. When I fought my disease, when I tried to hold on and control it, I became sicker. Learning to let go is truly an easier way to live. Today, I apply that to other life situations that baffle me. It is amazing what can happen when I do that.
Sobriety has given me so many gifts, one of which was believing in myself as worthy of existing. I was born for a reason. My life has purpose. Loving myself first, putting my sobriety first not only saved my life, but it helped me except love from others.
I originally started this blog as a way to connect with other parents who have children with Autism. My drinking escalated rapidly until my youngest was 4. The day I chose sobriety, I woke up laying in his bed, hung over and ready for death to take me. But my boy looked at me and smiled, “Hi Mommy!” I remember the sound of his precious voice. The innocence of it. The purity of it. He had just been diagnosed with Autism and a language disorder, yet he spoke directly into my eyes, piercing my heart with love. I began to cry.
Maybe God’s eyes were shining through his when he gazed at me. Maybe it was because I realized that my sons did not ask to be born. I chose that. I decided to have them. And it was then I decided that if I couldn’t love myself, then at the very least I could make a change in my life for the sake of the three innocent souls I brought into this world.
When I walked into that first meeting, I knew I was where I needed to be for decades. It was there, when my life began to turn around for the better.
I am grateful. I am so grateful.
Peace to you all….