Today is my birthday – my belly-button birthday, as it’s called in the program. I am officially 42 years old. I have always found that birthdays are a time of reflection, and today is not an exception. I’m not so much looking at the whole of my 42 years, as I am reflecting on just the last year. What a difference a year can make!!
Last year at this time I was trying to navigate a very slippery slope, not very successfully. I was caught in the downward spiral of grief and sadness and self-pity. My husband, sensing that I was feeling down about not being able to spend my birthday with my family, reached out to some of them. It did not go well. At that time, I still had hope that there would be, at some point, a reconciliation of some kind. That door was shut, and my hope was dashed. At first, I thought that it was actually a good thing to have my hope squashed. Living a life full of waiting seemed much more painful than just dealing with the closure that their rejection provided. But, as it turns out, I was devastated. And so I did what any good alcoholic would do: I hid my feelings, put on a game face, tried not to feel, and when that didn’t work, I drank. I threw away the sober time I had because I wasn’t willing to deal with my feelings.
I got drunk on four weekends in a row. I would sober up for the work week, tell myself that I was done drinking and then get drunk again on the weekend. I couldn’t go on that way, I knew that. So I made the decision to go back to treatment. It was the best decision I could’ve made. Once I got to the treatment center, I made up my mind that this time was going to be different. I knew that in order to deal with my feelings I had to be honest, I had to learn to forgive, and I had to learn how to accept things the way they were. I wrote about those things when I had eight months sober, you can read about it here.
So now, a year after the beginning of the end of my drinking, how are things different? I’m not afraid of my feelings. When negative emotions come up, I don’t try to hide. I know that things are the way they are, and if I can’t change them, I let them go. I am honest with the people in my life. While I feel sadness and grief sometimes, I don’t wallow. I use the tools I’ve learned in the program. I’m grateful for what I have, and who I have in my life, and I let them know it. I feel comfortable being me. I even like me, most days.
It occurs to me that the biggest difference on this birthday is….I’m happy.
It’s a happy birthday!
Who would’ve thought?
Maybe 42 is going to be a good year. 🙂