Leap…and the net will appear

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Today is a very big day. Today I mark 1 full calendar year of being alcohol free. I have been preparing for writing a blog post for this day to share how I got here. I’ve reviewed all of my blog posts to date, looked back through my journal entries and my FB account. I have included Brene Brown’s “Power of Vulnerability”, because this single thing, allowing myself to be seen, is what I truly believe why I am here today.

One year ago yesterday, unbeknownst to me, I took my very last sip of alcohol. Nobody could have guessed, least of all me, that a 45 day break from drinking would lead to where I am today: 100% alcohol free, being an advocate for non-drinking, and absolutely loving this new life I am a part of.

But how did I get here, exactly? I never, ever thought I’d become alcohol free. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my drinking. Most of my family and friends drink, many of which continued (and continue) to drink late into life. But I slowly started listening to the nagging voice in my head, asking the questions, “am I drinking too much; how much is too much; why can’t I cut back on my intake?” Little did I know by me deciding to take that 45 day break that it would lead down this road of self-discovery, forgiveness and, most of all, vulnerability.

The morning of February 3rd, 2022, “today is the day, I’m going to take a 45 day break from alcohol”, I said to myself. Waking up with a horrible hangover, again; cleaning the mess in the kitchen from the night before, vowing that I was going to try it, no matter the cost. I shared with my husband what I was doing and he said he’d join me. I remembered we were going to a friend’s house for dinner the following week and knew we drink with them. But I reminded myself that there would always be an excuse, I might as well do it now.

Over the next several weeks I deluged myself in anything and everything I could get my hands on about alcohol. Most times I was reading 2 books at a time about alcohol and sober living. I joined a sobriety group on line. I began journaling and meditating. And nearly 5 months into it, I decided to share my story on social media. Just like the decision to try 45 days of being alcohol free, the decision to share my story came out of nowhere. Just simply, something in my gut told me it was time to stop hiding and share my story. Not knowing why or understanding the decision, really, just something I felt I needed to do.

Over the past year, my thoughts keep going back to just how in the heck did I get here? How did I make it this far, through all of the cravings and set backs? What actually led me to the decision to try being alcohol free in the first place? And I keep going back to that day I decided to share my story. About 5 months along my journey I decided to go “public” and shared my struggle with alcohol on Facebook. The instant I clicked “post”, there was a bit of a knot in my stomach, but then almost just as soon, I had a feeling it was all going to be okay. And it was. The outpouring of sympathy, encouragement, people sharing similar stories of either themselves or loved ones struggles’, was overwhelming. And then something magical happened, two people (friends from high school) reached out to me about their own struggle, asking for help.

About 2 weeks after I shared my story, I ran across the Power of Vulnerability, by Brene Brown (TedTalk link above). Through her amazing research, the amount of people she described living their lives wholeheartedly with the core of being vulnerable, letting themselves be seen, was staggering. I didn’t know it, but that is what I did. I allowed vulnerability into my life. I shared my story of my drinking habits honestly and openly. In turn, this allowed others to be vulnerable and share their stories. It held me accountable and gave me something to continue to strive for. It led me to starting my own blog and unleashed my love of writing.

Three personal values I hold dear to my heart are: compassion, courage and my sense of humor. I’ve been told I’m “one tough cookie”. This past year has led me down the path of self discovery and through journaling and now with the help of my therapist, I am learning how alcohol became such a huge part of my life. How much courage is it taking to lead me down this road? A lot. The word courage comes from the Latin word cur, which means heart, and the word courage translated means: to tell your story with your whole heart. By me sharing my story on social media, and, second, starting this blog, I am telling my story with my whole heart. I have discovered that I likely started my drinking in my teens for pain management, social acceptance and peer pressure. But that my drinking evolved to help numb emotional pain and loss. Only to solidify my addiction as it became the answer to all aspects of living my life. The good and the bad. Because as we numb, we not only numb the ugliness, sadness and negatives of life, but we numb everything good.

Yesterday, in commemoration of my 1 year anniversary, I decided on 2 new tattoos. The word ‘courage’ on my right wrist, with a heart. One that I can readily see, reminding me of my strength, my story, my heart. And the other, the Zen saying: Leap…and the net will appear. I realized, going back to that very first morning, before I shared my story, before I went public, I took that fateful leap. Not knowing where I would land and seriously no clue that there would be a net. Only trusting that the jump was necessary.

I cannot post this without giving a shout out to my loved ones for all of their support and encouragement. I’ve done the work, but I seriously couldn’t have come this far by myself. By sharing my story I have deepened these connections and expanded and strengthened the net in this place I now call home.

Courage

2 responses to “Leap…and the net will appear”

  1. Congratulations and happy one year AF anniversary! I’m so proud of you and all the hard work you’ve done to get to this point. You are truly an inspiration!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! And beautifully written! I am 6 months today, btw. Someday I will be where you are!

    Courage! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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