6 “I Can” Statements for 6 Years Sober

6 years ago this week I walked into a noon Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at Unity Temple on the Country Club Plaza, burst into tears and said, “I think I am an alcoholic.” Immediately, that community supported me and over the next 12 months I began to understand that “there is another way to live.”

As anyone who has struggled with alcohol addiction will tell you, the worst part is the period of time leading up to admitting you are powerless over alcohol. In the 2 years leading up to that day in 2015 when I finally walked into an AA meeting, I spent more and more time bargaining with this insatiable beast that was taking my life and everything I cared about from me. In the search for temporary relief from anxiety, insecurity, worry and fear, what I found was just an enormous emptiness. I was ashamed of my inability to simply stop hurting myself and others. Alcohol was on a mission to destroy my life yet I continued to open that bottle of vino fino tinto every afternoon at 5 o’ clock, the witching hour.

I think my path to successful sobriety has been primarily about 2 things: learning to manage discomfort and reclaiming my authentic self. I wish I could hug that sad woman and tell her that in exchange for hangovers, her future would be full of authentic connections, better health, flourishing young adult children and the most fulfilling career imaginable.

Living a sober life has given me many tools for navigating the scary world of FEELINGS. I used to hide from my feelings behind a big glass of red wine, but now I address my problems, if not with confidence, at least with purpose – to find a reasonable solution that does not compromise my values or boundaries.

To celebrate my 6th Sober Birthday, I want to share 6 “I Can” statements I work on constantly:

I CAN

  • Create a life I love built on new beliefs about the person I am and who I choose to be going forward;
  • Live with discomfort, knowing that in the end what is meant for me will happen at the right time;
  • Tolerate the disapproval of someone I love, knowing that compromising my authentic self in exchange for another person’s affection or approval is self-destructive;
  • Accept contradictions of all kinds without the need to debate or argue;
  • Seek support rather than comfort when the need arises;
  • Support others without expecting anything in return.

Every sober breath is a gift. I have had 2,190 beautiful days in recovery. Thank you for celebrating with me!

Treat Yourself to “The Sober Lush”

Finally, after 5 1/2 years of periodically feeling isolated and stranded on a boring island of sober desolation, it’s here – the eloquently written, relatable ode to living a full-on riotous sober life. “The Sober Lush,” recently published by 2 sober writers, Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libaire, who decided to collaborate in a series of reflections and essays about seeking pleasure and fulfillment as sober women today, is my new source of joy. So much so, I have to share you this passage as a reminder that the feelings of restlessness and anger come and go, one day at a time.

“The Arsenic Hour”

“Amanda’s Savannah relatives call it the arsenic hour – anyone with small children understands this one. It’s the hour when the screaming gets loud, when everyone seems to need you most, when a toddler smears jam on your favorite pants. Amanda feels that even when it all reaches this fever pitch she’s supposed to be calm and collected – to cook gourmet meals and maybe even be a witty wife.

The sun is setting. She stands at the stove, wondering how she’s traveled from graduate school to this kitchen, knowing she’s supposed to ‘cherish the moment’ and help with algebra and give her girl a bubble bath and feed the puppy.

Once, Amanda poured wine to stay in the kitchen. Life with or without children can feel like a slog, and sipping champagne while you do laundry can make the whole endeavor more festive. But we’ve learned that we can bear the tedium booze free. We can bear it, and it passes, one day at a time.

We can also, sometime, say no.

We can open the door and go outside, to a hammock, or the front stoop. The first time Amanda left the kitchen during the arsenic hour, she felt both guilty and fabulous.

The guilt faded.

She closed her eyes. She listened to the cicadas or the traffic, breathed in and out a few times. Her heartbeat slowed. She stayed as long as she could, and then made herself stay ten minutes longer. An evening of cartoons and Fruity Pebbles wasn’t fabulous parenting, but neither was a perfect dinner served by a woman filled with anger and Chardonnay.

We believe it’s OK for the people who love you to know that sometimes you get tired. We think it’s a great example to show kids that they can grow up to be people who take care of themselves.

The breeze was soft on Amanda’s face. Inside, Amanda’s daughter watched Amanda watch the sky, and Amanda waved back. The arsenic hour was almost over, and soon it would be bedtime.

This is what it felt like to choose herself.”

HAVE A BIG, BEAUTIFUL, DECADENT, SOULFUL, SOBER SUNDAY, FRIENDS!