595 Days

It is amazing to me that I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in 595 days. I have been going through some transitions in my attitude, and I finally feel like it is all settling into place. I am learning who I am, what I want, and forging my own path in life. It doesn’t look anything like I thought it would look when I quit drinking. When I quit I couldn’t see very far outside of the box that drinking had placed me in. I knew my life couldn’t feel much worse, but I had no idea how much better it could actually be. I had no idea that I was stepping into the light, beginning a path of healing where I would eventually release a lot of old baggage and fears. Here are some example of how my life, thinking, and feelings have changed since I put the damn bottle down.

I used to be extremely angry at my parents. I was angry at their drinking, the fact that we moved a lot while I was growing up, the way they handled their divorce, their denial around alcoholism. I still have momentary glimpses of that anger, but for the most part I have dealt with it. We might never have the relationship that I want, but I finally can see that nobody has a perfect relationship with their parents. Mine might have involved a certain level of trauma, but that is in the past. I am learning how to parent myself and now I can accept our relationships for what they are. Doing that has made these relationships, and myself, happier and healthier.

I no longer feel frightened of authority figures. I used to carry this shame around with me, even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I felt like I was on the verge of being arrested, or somehow called into question, whenever I was around an authority figure. I felt like a phony and a fraud. I did break the law sometimes, which didn’t help these feelings, but I carried more shame than I needed to. I have put that baggage aside, and I no longer feel afraid of those with power greater than my own.

I have stopped comparing my life with the lives of others, at least somewhat. I used to feel crippled by those kinds of thoughts, from the time that I was quite young; I think it started in junior high school and I never really stopped. Maybe because I started drinking at age 14? I think one of the ways my development was affected by drinking was that I never learned about my own “locus of control”. I was always a victim of my circumstances instead of feeling like I could change them. I had a few glimpses of healthier self-esteem and greater self-efficacy throughout my adult years, but the drinking always brought me back to bad places. Now that the drinking is done, I have been better able to dig myself out of that hole. I have realized that I have the power to create my own life, especially if I focus on myself and don’t worry so much about what others are doing.

I am no longer paralyzed with self doubt whenever I start something new. I used to be a perfectionist who often didn’t do things due to fear of failure. I now see that as being very silly, even if it is amazingly common. I try to break things down into much smaller chunks so that a project doesn’t look so overwhelming. I also give myself more breaks. Discipline, self-acceptance and kindness actually go quite well together!

I am sure there are many more, but those are some of the positive things that I have been noticing lately. I am a work in progress, and I am totally okay with that. Progress not perfection, my friends!