Happy Valentines Day! I know this holiday can stir a lot of emotions, both good and bad for a lot of people. I used to loathe this holiday when I would be coming fresh off a breakup, which always seemed to be my luck. Walking into the grocery store to be assaulted visually by pink, helium filled, heart balloons and teddy bears I wouldn’t be getting was like the nail in the coffin. Even a year ago today I wrote a blog that was eloquent and sincere, but was masked by the facade of strength. Pretending those pink heart balloons weren’t breaking my heart and making me ache deeply….even though they were. A year ago today I was suffering from extreme depression, heartache, and in the throes of my addiction. Wanting so badly to stop drinking but not knowing how I could possibly not go home and drink and watch Sex and the City when my heart was lying somewhere in my stomach and getting out of bed seemed impossible.
A year ago today I was one month single and although I was doing everything in my power to overcome it except the most important thing- abstaining from alcohol- I was in misery. I prayed, I meditated, I listened to self help books, I joined yoga, and I blogged my heart out. I had no idea that the pit in my stomach and heart would never fill because I was bankrupt spiritually and emotionally. I was doing SOME things right, but I wasn’t addressing my addiction. Then to throw me off track even further I met a boy. Well, more like a boy added me on Instagram and I took it upon myself to throw myself at him to an extent. Typical alcoholic and co-dependent behavior, filling one void with something else.
I have no regrets that I started the relationship when I did because the lessons I have learned from it are gifts from my higher power. Sometimes the gifts come cleverly disguised as catastrophes and many parts of my life were just that. I very much love my boyfriend and the time we are taking to focus on our own well being and sobriety.
I find myself reflecting and asking myself how have I grown, even if just a little bit in the past year? I am on a path to freedom and spiritual awakening through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have hit bottom and relapsed over and over again, but the message is clear, I cannot, nor will I ever be able to drink like a normal person can. My happiness is contingent on my spiritual well being. If I am sinking I better fix it fast, because alcohol is always there waiting to seduce me, no matter how much sober time I accumulate. I have found that with alcohol I am insane and with sobriety I have peace. I have found out how to communicate with others respectfully, put boundaries in place, stand up for myself, and pray for people who hurt me instead of taking it personally. All of this is stripped from me when I drink. I am learning how to be ok alone, how to fill my time with meaningful activities that don’t require validation from others. I am learning how to be genuine and true to the person I am.
The most important lesson I have learned though, and how fitting to write on it today, is that I cannot love someone right until I learned to love myself enough to get sober. I can’t stay sober for my boyfriend, my family, my friends, my sponsor, or any other reason. I have to stay sober because I love myself enough to do so. A year ago no one would have come to me-the queen of isolation and resentment- for advice. Today, I have women from all walks of life that message me to ask about AA, anxiety, and overcoming obstacles. Today when women come to me I do not answer with my ego, I pray and ask my higher power how I can guide them where they need to go to find their own healing. Selflessness for the most part has disappeared, but only if I continue to work on my own healing. If there is contention in my life I say the serenity prayer instead of feeling sorry for myself, and if self pity finds its way into my heart I reach out to people to talk through it. I am only alone if I choose to isolate myself. The family I have made in AA will always be there should I reach out my hand to them.
This past year has been a journey that I needed every minute of. The extreme highs and the lowest lows. I have so much learning and growth to do but the door has opened and the key of willingness stays in my hand.
I have so much love and gratitude in my heart that I feel even through pain. I hope that if you loathe Valentines Day you look at it from a different perspective. The world lacks a lot of things, love and random acts of kindness included. Spread your love and light to others and it will come back to you. But most importantly, find great, big love for yourself.