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What Self-Care Has to Do With My Sobriety?


For the last three days I’ve been home alone.

My partner is at her Bachelorette and I took the weekend to stay home in Boston and take care of our dog. I’m 19 days sober today and haven’t had a sip of alcohol since Kit has left. I’m proud of myself for a few reasons and one of them is I am remember every joyful, weird, and tiring thing about the last few days.

I’ve gone thrifting (a favorite hobby which I’m soon expanding into a small business). Yesterday, I went with a friend to the Harvard Book Sale (a bi-annual event where you can find tons of awesome books on sale. And, last night that same friend and I + my best friend had a pseudo-Bachelorette booze-free. There was pizza, boob cookies, and Legally Blonde. The best part about it? We didn’t need alcohol. It so upsets me to think that I too once thought that if I wan’t drinking, I was missing out.

Last night, after the festivities ended, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw a popular health & fitness coach using the hashtag #alwaysdrinking. It made me so sad. I reached out to her, mostly just to say how it made me feel and also that maybe someone promoting living a healthier lifestyle shouldn’t be advertising that #alwaysdrinking is a part of it. Regardless, it made me sad and really glad that I’m dry.

The road to get here hasn’t been easy and I don’t think my journey is close to over, but I’m really happy about where I am at today. The point of this post was to share about how I’ve stayed sober while my partner is out-of-town. Usually, she acts as a way for me to stay accountable, as a sounding board for my ideas, and in general, a distraction from drinking. But, I think it’s important for me to know that I can do this on my own. I can say no to booze (even though I often run right into it whether at the grocery store or advertised on the bus etc.) and enjoy this time apart.

I’m remembering how much I love uninterrupted silence, getting to play whatever podcast at top-volume I want. How, I can actually take care of our dog by myself and though I once had serious doubts about being a pet mama, I’ve found my way. How, I can provide for myself when it comes to the basics (like having the foresight to buy milk at the store last night, so I could have it with my coffee this morning). All of these little things might seem small and insignificant to you, but I have so many doubts about my ability to take care of myself when left to my own devices.

This morning’s reading in Back to Joy, a book I thrifted a few weeks ago and have been reading a page of daily is Permission Granted by Susan Koefod:

Why is it that we never feel entitled,

To take care of ourselves,

When we most need care?

Even the storm takes care of itself,

Raining until there is no more rain,

Not asking anyone’s permission,

To light up the sky, fill the gutters, and leak into the kitchen.

A storm has come into your life, wreaking havoc and chaos,

And you’re the one needing permission?

You have it:

Permission to feel afraid, but not feel conquered by your fears,

Permission to feel overwhelmed, but not undone,

Permission to pause, shed a few tears, take a break,

Permission to sit with a cup of coffee and find the still centre of yourself –

In the eye of the storm –

where all your strength lies in waiting.

Storms come and pass, and you are stronger

because of them.

It’s stormy now.

You have permission to feel the power of the storm,

and seek the shelter within yourself.

I think that is what I am trying to do right now, find shelter inside myself, know that I’ve survived storms before–rougher waters than these–and have always found the strength to pull myself out. Today’s storm is more the outside world as it keeps spinning and I keep searching for my footing.

In writing this, I’ve realized it’s about staying sober alone, but more than that it’s about self-care. More than spa days or solo date nights. Taking care of my essential self, the parts of me that are broken and the part of me that are whole.

All the days that I take care of myself, treat myself with kindness, use a toolkit of my own making, breathe, sleep, take hot showers, I’m helping myself. I’m staying sober one self-care act at a time.

Self-care, is now about my survival. Self-care is how I return home or as Rumi writes:

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again.”

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