I look forward to this post every year and this one is no different.
Today I have nine years clean and sober — no drinks, no drugs, and working to make myself the best version of myself that I can.
This year is a little different from previous years; I now have a son to come along with me on this journey. If I hadn’t taken the time to put in work and change the way I was living, I can easily say that I would have none of the things you see in the above picture — especially Miles.
It was never a question of whether I wanted to have kids (although I went through a good amount of contemplation and self-analysis about when to have them), but because of the time and energy that I put into using drugs, drinking myself into oblivion, and essentially escaping the responsibilities of life, I had no idea when that would actually happen.
I remember asking myself how I could possibly go nine months without drinking alcohol. I wondered how much I could drink if I was pregnant and not risk harming my baby. I wondered if that would be enough for me. I panicked because I told myself I could do it and then wasn’t able to last a day without drinking to the point of passing out. I knew in my heart that there was no way I could possibly carry a child unless I gave up drinking for good, and that was a thought that completely terrified me.
I’ve shared a lot about my pregnancy — how I was scared to have a baby and how I had some depressive issues towards the end of it, but one thing that I never had to worry about was whether I would physically harm my unborn child because I couldn’t stop drinking or using drugs. That’s something I never would have had if I hadn’t gotten into recovery.
I cant help but wonder about the future and what predisposition will mean for my son. Will he inherit a history of mental health issues or did he luck out in the genetic gene pool somehow? Obviously there’s no way to know and we will cross that bridge when we get to it, but I know that there would be no way for me to be prepared for it if I was still using and stuck in a way of life that would only bring us all sadness and pain.
In nine years I’ve accomplished more than I thought possible, including making serious changes to myself as a person. I’ve learned the importance of being able to talk through problems rather than ignore them and I’ve been able to identify maladaptive behavior patterns that kept me stuck in a cycle of depression and self-loathing so deep that the only way I knew to escape it was by completely escaping reality. The problem with that solution was that when I became clear-headed again, reality was always there and it was oftentimes more glaring than it had been before I tried to escape it.
So even though I now have someone else depending on me and I have no idea what the future holds for him, I know that I’m in a place where I’m prepared to handle it with a clear head and a set of tools to help both of us. I know where to go for help and I’m no longer scared about how to get through another day. I’m grateful for everything that my past has taught me and without that, there would be no future.
For anyone who may be struggling, know that getting out is possible. You have to do the work and it’s going to be hard, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel if you walk long enough.
There’s beautiful things when you get there.
For older anniversary posts, check out the links below.