There is something inside me that I’ve really struggled to put into words the last month or two. When I have had the time and energy, I’ve pulled it out and turned it around and around, like one of those accessory spinners you see at a jewelry boutique. A thought or phrase will catch my eye or make my heart jump and for a moment I think I’ve found it, but then I think “something just isn’t quite right…” or “perhaps there’s a better way to say it.” So I stay quiet and keep thinking, and keep waiting.
Sometimes I fear I will spend my whole life waiting.
I’ve always been a perfectionist. Second best isn’t good enough – if I don’t win I am furious with myself. I berate myself for not being faster, or not having the answer first. I “should on” myself – you should have done this, or said this, or known that. Constant regrets of not being who I need to be to win (at school, at work, at life) flood my mind on a daily basis.
Over the past year I’ve been able to strengthen my ability to eliminate these thoughts…or at least ignore them when they do bubble up. But I’ve found it more difficult when it comes to sobriety.
I have met and corresponded with the most amazing women this last year. These women are young, old, creative, loud, mothers, single, bright, big, strong, smart, beautiful, tough, compassionate, and either sober or trying to get sober. They are my role models, my tribe. They inspire me and they make me feel less alone.
I find that I compare myself to them – I compete with them.
“I want to beat them at this sober game…”
“I don’t post daily status updates about how wonderful sobriety is so I must not be doing this right”
“I don’t comment on everyone’s pleas for support so I’m not compassionate and supportive enough”
“I’m not loud and in your face like Holly and thus I’m not bright enough to make an impact”
“The women that are sober on their own, without Antabuse or other meds are stronger than me”
“I don’t express myself in words as eloquently as Laura does, so my voice doesn’t deserve to be heard”
“I’m only at 18 straight sober days…who am I to be an admin member of the site?”
“I don’t go to AA on a regular basis…eventually I’ll realize I’m a phony and will relapse”
“Sometimes I hate being sober. How do they love it all the time?”
“I don’t meditate, practice yoga, pray, read, use essential oils, (fill in the blank) enough. I don’t do any of this enough”
“I am not enough”
“I am not winning”
“I am going to fail”
I have focused so much lately on doing this sobriety thing the “right way” that I have forgotten what the goal is. It’s not about yoga or herbal tea or memoirs or AA or being mindful all the time; it’s about NOT DRINKING. That’s it. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter how I do it, or who I am, or what lifestyle I’m living. It’s just saying no. It’s hitting that craving away with a baseball bat. It’s ignoring the want. It’s killing the desire. If all that other stuff helps me do that, then great. But if the only way I can resist holding that bottle to my lips one day is by tying myself to the bed, or by placing nails on the floor so I can’t walk, or by deflating my tires so I can’t drive to the liquor store…then I have won. I have still stayed sober another day. It is not possible to fail if I have done this one simple thing.
I made the decision to get sober so that I could live the best life possible. That life doesn’t exist for me if I drink. In that life I want to include more yoga and more meditation and more mindfulness. I want to blog and create and sing at the top of my lungs.
But it’s ok if I don’t.
IT IS OK.
I will get there, in time. I am – in this moment – right where I need to be. This path is mine and mine alone and there are no rules, time limits or standards to measure myself against. There isn’t one, right path. Each of us is on our own …our own uniquely, beautiful, perfect path created just for us. We can all learn from each other and share in the experience, but the most important thing to remember is that this is a solo race – one in which every single one of us is in first place.