Well, I know what’s right. I got just one life. In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around but I stand my ground and I won’t back down.Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
So, I have some exciting news! In addition to pursuing my doctorate degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I’ve decided to add a master’s in Health and Wellness Coaching in fall 2020. Yes, I might be a little insane and possibly addicted to education since I already have a B.S. in psychology, a B.S. in deaf studies, and a M.S. in industrial-organizational psychology. Despite my educational overload, I feel that adding the Health and Wellness Coaching to my future Acupuncture practice is the perfect cherry on top of this incredible sundae of a life career. The desire came from the journey of my own sobriety and recovery and inspired by a health and wellness class I took for school. It’s something I know I have to do with my career and I’ve only had that feeling once before with acupuncture.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my future and my present life. When I hit a year, I felt I needed new goals that expanded outside of sobriety milestones. So, I was inspired to do at least one new thing I’ve never done before each month. In October, I went to a 2 and a half hour 5am yoga/meditation class and this month, I took an acrylic painting class in which my artwork can be seen at the top of this post. This new thing each month endvenor is pushing me out of my comfort zone and opening me up to amazing new experiences. It’s one of the ways I stay motivated and keep things exciting after such a big milestone of a year sober.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about where I am, who I am, and the impact of my sobriety on my world. I hear a lot around the sober community of people saying “I wouldn’t be where I am/have what I have today if I wasn’t sober” and, if I’m being honest, that’s something I haven’t ever felt that strongly. While I am incredibly grateful for my sobriety, alcohol wasn’t getting in the way
yet of my ability to function externally in the world. I excelled as a student, I was a very good employee, I’ve always had a wonderful support system, I never had any legal troubles, yadda yadda. I hadn’t “lost everything” yet.
Now, alcohol was definitely negatively impacting my general wellbeing as we all know, especially towards the end. I wasn’t being the best version of myself I could be. But, I escaped the potential of a major downward spiral relatively unscathed. And again, I hadn’t “lost everything”
It’s thoughts like these that swirl around my head and that’s when the voice in my head says, “you weren’t that bad” – this is a dangerous headspace for me to be in. But, the incredible revelation I had the other day that helped snap me back into reality was this: I 100% cannot pursue Health and Wellness Coaching if I am not sober. How fucking amazing and empowering is that fact!? This thought shined a light on all the other things sobriety has allowed me to do and to change for the better. I won’t bore you with the list but I will say if I wasn’t sober I would be on the AT&T commerical about people who are just ok at their careers – How’s your acupuncturist? She’s ok. And I am sure as hell not living my life as just ok.
So, the reason for all of this rambling is because about a week ago I had an insane relapse dream. Biggest one by far I’ve ever had and only reinforced the incredible impact sobriety has had on me!
I am highly upset. I’m not sure why. But I’m crying, I feel like I can’t breathe. So, I leave the house, get in my car and drive. My phone starts ringing. It’s my mom. Ignore. My phone rings again. It’s Josh. Ignore. I pull up to a small, seemingly empty house. It’s extremely small, there are no lights and there is no furniture except a small couch. Suddenly, I’m drinking. Bottles of alcohol are everywhere. I look at my phone, too many missed calls and messages to even look at. I continue to drink and next thing I know, it’s morning. I look at my phone, it’s 10am and two days later. I’ve been gone for 2 days? I walk outside, the brightness of the sun hurts my eyes but I decide to go for a walk anyway. I’m walking around this neighborhood drinking vodka straight out of the bottle. Shit. I told Josh I would go to his gig tonight. Next thing I know, I’m at his gig. It’s a fancy place with big round tables. I pull up a chair next to my mom and our friends. I’m expecting my mom to be frantic and upset but instead she’s overly encouraging. Telling me how everything is ok and I can start again tomorrow. I can work my way back up to 13 months. My friends are telling me that since this is my fairwell to drinking again, I should go all out and try all of these fancy drinks I never tried before. Josh will barely look at me and doesn’t say a word…he seems disappointed and probably disgusted by me. I feel like shit and can’t believe I threw 13 months away. I order a drink and a girl comes up to me asking if I could help her with something on her phone. But everytime I try to help this girl, the words come up gibberish. “I’m so sorry. I can’t help you.” I say. I am devastated that I cannot help this girl. I lower my head. I feel defeated. Then I wake up.
This dream struck me and I realized it’s because this is the first time in my life that I have everything to lose. Getting sober has given me clarity, self-respect, higher values, improved relationships, improved sense of self, better physical, mental, and spiritual health, and now, opportunities for my future. The thought of losing it all is terrifying. If I start drinking again, my luck is not guaranteed and I will not be able to help anyone in the ways I plan on with acupuncture and health and wellness coaching.
My therapist suggested looking at the dream as if I was everyone in the dream and what the house symbolized and it revealed some fun things. The small, confining house that is dark, isolated, and empty mirrors the effects of drinking itself. Dream mom is the encouraging side of me that is supportive and understanding and my dream friends are the impulsive side of me that throws caution to the wind regarding drinking without thinking of the consequences and not caring about the impact. Dream Josh is the side of me that is disappointed and self loathing – the part of me that was mean to myself and thought very little of myself. And the dream girl represents me along with my future patients and the inability to help anyone if I return to drinking and the past behaviors that go with it.
So, after all of the analyzing and dream interpretation, I’d say it’s pretty clear that even my subconscious is cheering me on and I will not back down no matter what. When I gave up drinking, I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. And now? Well, now I have everything to lose and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
P.S. I did go back to Women For Sobriety Online for some extra support this past week. AA wasn’t my vibe and I found this group to be a wonderful alternative for me in early sobriety/recovery. WFS is specifically geared towards women and their New Life Program helps women on their unique journey of sobriety and recovery through encouraging self-discovery. While there is no step work, no sponsors, no higher power talk and no requirement to actively work the New Life Program, there are 13 acceptance statements and each one can be focused on and used as a mantra of sorts.
They have daily moderated chats focused on a sobriety topic for that day, an online personal journal that can be kept private or shared publicly, workbooks that take you through the 13 statements, and a forum with a variety of sub-groups (fabulous over 50, LGBTQ, new life moms, gratitude group, goal goddesses, mental health and recovery, mindful eating and healthy living group, etc.) There are numerous other resources as well. It’s a great place for support and extremely empowering. Check out Women for Sobriety, the link can be found under the Sober Resources tab.