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What’s Next

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One of the women who keeps me sane when it comes to my sobriety is Aidan. I don’t know if she knows this or not, but when created her Instagram, The Dry Be Club, it kind of changed things for me drastically.

When I first started to contemplate and consider my drinking habits, the culture surrounding addiction felt very black and white to me. This was about 5 years ago. I couldn’t find anyone talking about the grey area, other than my therapist at the time who thought that’s exactly where I needed to be. When I came across Aidan on social media and saw that she was actively and vulnerably discussing her drinking and her choice to be sober, I felt understood for the first time in years.

I highly suggest checking out her Instagram no matter where you are in your drinking story. But, what I really want to talk about today is a question she asked on one of her newer posts: What is your story? What is the next chapter?

I haven’t worked since January and without a doubt I’ve found this transitional period to be one of the hardest in my life. I’ve been depressed, angry, sad, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and every other feeling in between that. I’m engaged and working on my relationship with my partner — everyday I learn something new. 15 days ago I said no to drinking for what, I’m hoping, is the last time. 5 days I signed up for a virtual therapist. Today I dedicated my day to getting a dog walker and sitting and reading for the rest of this afternoon. It is a rest I need, but rarely take. Even though I haven’t been working, I’ve been running from here to there, educating myself, writing, and making. I haven’t really taken a break. I think what this next chapter holds for me is permission. Permission to do what I want even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Permission to stop asking and just do. Permission to go back into the rooms of A.A. unapologetically and unashamed. Or not. Permission to watch the same 3 TV shows again and again. Permission to wear three or more patterns at once. Permission to keep seeking more freedom in a world that feels increasingly limiting. Permission to be unabashedly me. I don’t know exactly what that means for the coming months or even coming weeks. I know I come here everyday. I know I make a conscious decision not to drink. I know I use my hands to make art in the form of collage and daily gratitude lists. I know I show up continually even when it hurts.

The hardest part, for me, about quitting drinking has continually been that this is a decision that needs to be mine alone. I’ve asked countless times for friends and family to weigh in, but ultimately it’s confusing and sometimes has even made me feel like drinking was the better choice for me. I’m someone who likes to crowdsource. I have a hard time trusting my gut (even though it tends to be right a lot of the time). It, of course, helps to listen to other women who have walked this path before me, but they only continue to walk this way because they choose to, not because anyone forced them to. That too is a hard point. There is no one and nothing that can force me to get and stay sober except (and I believe this to be true) a conscious connection with a higher power. I’ve lost faith so many times. My higher power has changed as I’ve gotten older and began to understand more what that relationship looks like for me. I know that I am constantly supported by my HP however I get and choose to stay sober (whether through A.A. or not) or whether I choose to drink again. Again, He can only provide support, not enforcement.

Today, I feel uncomfortable in my body. I just don’t feel right. I keep comparing my relationship to other people’s. I keep worrying about things that are completely out of my control. My thoughts feel slightly manic and my heart feels heavy. But, today, using my habit tracker app, I checked off today. I won’t be drinking. I will keep sharing where I’m at though even if it feels messy. Even if the metaphors don’t come & the sentences feel laden. I keep writing. That’s the only way I can keep sharing my story here. That I know.

The happiest moments in my life, have been the moments where I’m not caught up in my head, unaware with my surroundings, and living presently, minute-by-minute. Things taste better and colors seem brighter. I’m less ready to lose my patience and kinder to the people around me and myself.

I had a sponsor who told me that when everything feels like it is too much to feel my feet. Just simply feel the bottom of my feet pressing into the ground. It’s a way to immediately steady yourself.

As a writer, I study people for a living alongside my own life. I try to turn the darkness into light. I strive to see the details in everything. I use my words to convey the things that live within my head. That isn’t always easy. I feel like it is my job as a writer to continually be checking in with myself. Can I write this scene? Does this detail resonate with anyone else? How do I convey the emotion of the moment? I’m hyper aware sometimes of my surroundings and the world that is inside my head.

I’m going to try to be less concerned with all that. I’m just going to focus right here. Tell my story the way it wants to be told. You can’t force the truth. It always comes out when it wants to anyway.

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