I couldn’t let this day pass without telling the world that today I have been sober for FOUR YEARS. That’s 1,462 days of feeling all the feels without numbing myself out. Four years of healing. Four years of growing emotionally and spiritually. Four years of making (mostly) good choices. Four years that have been beautiful because I have been awake and completely present. I love this day more than my actual birthday because this day four years ago is the day I chose to live. I didn’t just wake up on this day four years ago and stop drinking. That would have been great. Getting sober was a process for me. A long process. I know some people who actually do wake up one day, make that decision and get sober. That’s not my story. I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol. Everyone I knew drank A LOT. It really didn’t seem to me like I should be the only one getting sober. I knew I would never have fun again. I was sure of that. I had been bouncing in and out of treatment centers, ER’s, medical detox facilities and even the ha ha hospitals. It was a long, miserable road for me and my family. On this day four years ago I woke up in a treatment center and I knew it was the day they were going to stop giving me pills to help me detox. It was the day I was going to have to be in my skin. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I sat. I sat for what was the most uncomfortable two minute meditation. And I didn’t die! The next day I sat a little longer. And every day after that. It was my go to when my emotions were too strong for me to manage. That, a ton of meetings, all the yoga and an awesome AA sponsor who I texted every 3 minutes so she could reassure me that I was ok. Those first 8 months were the hardest for me. I thought about drinking daily. Something shifted during that eighth month and the desire to drink practically left me. Sobriety, AA, meditation and yoga have given me a strong foundation. I have learned to love myself. Believe me that was a process too. I still work at it. Some days it’s easier than others. My life is so beautiful today. My relationships are healthy. I have so many loving and supportive friends in my life. Today I woke up at a yoga retreat in the mountains that I was invited to lead. I drove home to my beautiful family and then I taught a yoga class in MY yoga studio. All of these things are gifts of living sober one day at a time. That is never lost on me. My heart is FULL of gratitude tonight. ❤️
If I ever give the impression that meditation is easy, it’s not. It’s a practice. Like everything we do. It takes persistent effort. Meditation is simple. Not easy. I experienced a lot of negative emotions along the way. In the beginning it triggered memories for me that were too much for me to deal with. I was learning to fully experience emotions that I had previously numbed out with drugs and/or alcohol. I felt completely overwhelmed by all the shit that was going on in my mind. My meditation practice seemed to be making things worse for me rather than better.
It was suggested to me that I approach my mind like a messy closet. Rather than slamming it closed, I pull a few things out at a time and then put them away neatly and close the door. Coming back at another time. And so on.
So that’s what I did.
Little by little (baby steps), I was able to look at it all. Little by little I was able to get my closet organized. I tossed what I didn’t need and kept what I did. I’m sure I kept things that I really could have tossed, but I just wasn’t quite ready to let them go. I think the letting go is an ongoing process.
The thing is, I had to feel EVERY bit of it along the way and for someone who had found a way to be numb for a lifetime, it was HARD. I sat with sadness. I sat with fear. I sat with anger. I sat with it all. And I lived. Not only did I live, I learned so much through that difficult process. I learned that it’s ok to experience unpleasant emotions and that they are just that. Nothing more. Nothing less. I learned that I can stay present with whatever I’m experiencing and I don’t have to shut down or numb out.
Nobody makes it into their adult life without pain and some sort of suffering. That pain has to be acknowledged and dealt with. Of that I am sure.
If you find yourself struggling with difficult emotions in your own meditation practice, just know that it does get better.