What has surprised you the most about sober living?
How good it feels! And that I’m never bored! Contrary to my pre-recovery beliefs (that I would never have fun again and that I was doomed to a lonely, friendless life) I have richer experiences sober and am friends with a much wider circle of interesting people than I ever imagined possible.
What is your greatest joy?
I had a one year old when I got sober. I now have two kids and they’re young adults. A woman who sponsored me early on promised I had no idea how my sobriety would impact my kids. That promise has definitely come true. My children have never seen me drunk and have matured into creative, kind, smart people whom I could not possibly be more proud of. To know I was fully present as their mom – for the good, the bad, and the ugly – is my greatest joy.
What new hobbies have you explored in Recovery?
The first thing that comes to mind is making jewelry. I always called my sister the “artsy one” and believed I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. The truth is I was afraid to try. Sobriety gave me the courage to risk being a beginner. I started playing around with beads, and pretty soon had made so many gifts for friends/ family that I opened an Etsy store. Until recently, I sold my wares at First Friday every month with one of my kids. I also developed a yoga practice and became certified to teach. I’ve taught teenagers, folks with disabilities, and women in early recovery in a variety of places, including the McCauley Residence in Portland. Recently I’ve been brushing up on my French in the hopes it could prove useful at some point.
If you could plan a perfect day for yourself, what would it involve?
Yoga, time with my family and friends, a hike in the woods, and a delicious vegetarian meal prepared by someone other than me!
What tool(s) do you rely on when you’re having a bad day?
The first thing I do is read a passage from one of my recovery books. I’ll go straight to the index and look up whatever
I’m struggling with – pride, forgiveness, resentment, etc. Then I take time alone (preferably in nature) to meditate on the reading. This will sound kinda bonkers, but I live near three cemeteries and I get a lot of peace by walking or riding my bike there and talking to dead people. They’re excellent listeners, they never judge me, and they help me put my mortal problems in perspective. I feel closest to my Higher Power there. I’ll also try reciting the 12 Steps, doing a gratitude alphabet, or at least 3 things I’m grateful for in the moment. And of course I call a close friend!
Name one of your goals for the future.
My parents are in their late eighties and really struggling, both physically and mentally. I want to give them everything I can – my time, my attention, home cooked meals, and most of all my love. It’s hard for them to hear, they don’t move easily anymore, and they forget things. My Higher Power puts opportunities for patience in front of me all of the time, which I consider a sign that I continue to need practice. I learned in recovery that it doesn’t matter what kind of parents I have, it matters what kind of daughter I am. This is true in all of my relationships.
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone just starting their Recovery?
Don’t leave before the miracle happens! I was four years sober before I stopped craving alcohol. Those first four years were so, so hard. I white-knuckled it a lot of the time and assumed I would forever miss booze. When the craving finally lifted, it was a miracle. As it turns out, there have been many more in the fifteen years since. Sobriety will eventually become one of your most precious treasures, the key to all of the other joys you’re sure to experience if you just stay.