This morning, I bought myself a coffee and strolled along the beach with a smile stretched across my face. I hadn’t just won the lottery, I hadn’t landed a huge promotion and it’s not my birthday. I’m celebrating a small triumph and giving myself a pat on the back.
When you’re living sober, there are times you need to pause for a moment and reflect on how far you’ve come. It’s important to briefly cast your mind back to the crazy, fast-paced hellish dark land you’ve left behind and thank god you don’t live there anymore.
Two weeks ago an idiot driver didn’t give way as I was driving to collect a friend; they ploughed straight into my car, wrote it off and drove away not knowing what state they’d left me in.
For a couple of days I looked down at my cuts and bruises and felt sorry for myself. I looked at my car keys, remembered my little car was trashed and felt hurt and wronged. As the bruises got worse, I cried. I drank too much coffee. I put myself to bed early.
The days turned into a week. I stopped crying, shook off my self-pity and regained my perspective on what really matters in life. A few more days ticked by and then it dawned on me: through that entire emotional whirlwind, it didn’t even cross my mind to pick up a drink.
In my previous life, I would have drowned my sorrows. Well, it’s the perfect excuse, isn’t it? “Some idiot totalled my car,” you say, friends gather and you buy round after round until you realise it’s just an excuse.
Then I would have wallowed and drowned my woes some more, prolonging the agony, drowning in denial and pacifying myself with Pinot.
But I didn’t. I’m living comfortably in my sobriety in a newfound land of hope and I’m proud of myself for getting to a serene, tranquil headspace.
Most importantly, I’m learning how to navigate the crap that life throws at each one of us without knee jerking or getting overwhelmed. I’m learning not to panic and feel like life as I previously knew it is over. I’m living with the belief and knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’.
It’s true what they say; sobriety is a journey not a destination. It’s constant effort, every day. Some days are easier than others and sometimes life really chucks eggs in your face. The trick is to wipe it off with the back of your hand and keep on walking, rather than falling to your feet in a heap, picking up a drink and let the eggs keep smashing you. If you keep on walking, things get better.
This week, more than most, I have taken lots of deep breaths and called friends to rant about how unfair life can be.
My heartfelt message to everyone who is sober today is this:
“You’re allowed to scream. You’re allowed to cry – but do NOT give up”.
Corrine Barraclough is a writer and former magazine editor now living on Gold Coast, Australia. For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook and Twitter