A year of joy and adversity


This was a big week for me.  It was Thanksgiving, and of course I have a lot to be thankful for.  However, the holidays have been really hard for me the last few years.  As many of you know, I have no contact with my family and that is really emotional for me when it comes to celebrating holidays, birthdays and the like.  I have worked really hard to accept that things are the way they are, and to no longer let my feelings about my family send me back out drinking.

The other big news for this week is that on Tuesday I celebrated one year of sobriety!  I was really excited to be able to go up and receive my one year chip at my home group meeting on Tuesday morning.  It felt great.  It felt exhilarating.  It felt miraculous.  And it was…all of those things.  Mostly though, I felt so grateful, so very grateful.  It is really apropos that my sobriety birthday is so near Thanksgiving, the timing is perfect.

one year

This post could easily turn into one about gratitude, but I am saving that for another time.  What I really want to write about is what the last year was like.  As I reflect on the past year, I can tell you that it was like a roller-coaster.  There were a lot of really high highs, but an equal amount of really low lows.  I was dealing with the wreckage of my past (I still am), learning how to live with the grief that comes from being estranged from my family, trying to forgive others and myself, and trying to do it all as honestly as I could.  It wasn’t easy, not by any stretch of the imagination.  It was a lot of self-examination, which for us alcoholics is often pretty ugly.  It certainly was for me.  It was emotional and very stressful at times.

As hard as it was though, I realized a while back that this past year was actually, amazingly, filled with joy.  Each difficult situation and negative emotion gave me the opportunity to work through it – not around it, not over it, but really, genuinely through it – without taking a drink.  This wasn’t just a change in perspective for me, it was a life change.  Before this past year I lived in extremes, even when I wasn’t drinking.  A bad situation was never going to end, good things would last forever.  I would always feel whatever emotion I was feeling.  My vocabulary was filled with “always” and “never”.  It was black and white thinking and it did not serve me well.

On Thanksgiving I wrote this in my journal:

“I’m so grateful to be alive and happy.  A year ago, two years ago, five, ten…whenever I was asked what I wanted most in life, my answer was to be happy.  I finally have that now.  I thought that I would never know what that really felt like, but now I do.  I also never thought that there could be joy in the midst of adversity.  But the two can peacefully coexist.  I’ve realized that it isn’t black and white.  I can have joy and happiness even at the worst of times.  I don’t have to get mired down in the shit.  I can do the next right thing, no matter how hard, and I can still have joy in my heart.”

Getting through the bad times, without hurting myself or anyone else, is really a cause for celebration.  The simple act of making it through to the other side is joy-producing.  Realizing that bad times and feelings aren’t going to last forever is joy-producing.  Knowing that I can hand things over to God and have faith that His will is what’s best for me is joy-producing.  Not drinking over all of life’s crap is majorly joy-producing.  How awesome is that?

I DO!!!!!
I sure do!!

9 thoughts on “A year of joy and adversity

  1. Awwwww…congrats on one year!!! It looks good on you 🙂

    The first year is always a tough one. I remember the councelors at the treatment center all saying that if every year of sobriety was like the first year, they would have given up a while ago…lol. I understand that. I mean, I saw the first six months as the real tough leg for me, but it got easier after that. And like you, I found myself with more joy and gratitude and big changes in that first year than the second and now into my third. It just starts to calm down, and other things appear as they are needed. You’ll know what I mean 🙂

    You’ve come a long way, Jami…I can read it in your words here, seeing the subtle changes in your posts and your approach to things. You appear more balanced and peaceful, even in the midst of some still difficult emotional dealings (daughter, etc)

    Well done…very, very happy for you.

    Blessings and (birthday) hugs


  2. Congratulations on one year, Jami! It is so wonderful to hear you talk about the joy you have been experiencing. I am sure it has not been easy at times. I really love this. I will come back and read it again. xx

  3. YAY!!! YAY!!! YAY!!! Huge congrats on one year, Jami!!!

    (Can you tell I’m happy for you?)

    You’ve come so far, and you deserve every joy coming your way. Year two is going to be so wonderful for you, I just know it.

    Love, Christy

  4. It is soooo awesome! I am still in the joy-producing! I am sorry about your family and I do hope that at some point you do get to reconcile. My family wasn’t around either and I do talk to them – they just had other things to do… well so bit it. Got to be grateful for what we got in front of us and YOU have comes a long way baby! Contrast on one year and the beautiful chip, I have never seen a green one like that – very special! HUGS.

  5. Congratulations on your one year!!! That’s reason for joy by itself! Sobriety doesn’t guarantee happiness but it does help us deal with adversity in a different way…sober!!! And that is like you said very joy-producing!!!

  6. Congratulations!!!!!! Today is day 7 for me and this is my first time reading your blog!! I love it!! I can’t wait until I get 1 year!!!!
    Thank you for your inspiration!!!! 🙂

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