One Year Down….

Growth

This is a picture of my latest painting. I poured a lot into this one and it tells quite a story. A story of a withering being, held up by the intricate and dense root system that’s been there for years,  quietly supporting. This bare being has finally begun to allow the life giving rays in, from a sun who has patiently waited for it’s acceptance, so they can do their job, and help it grow. This one leaf, though it is only one, is the first of many that are sure to sprout. Soon, this being will be full of leaves, and will be ready and able to give shade and comfort to weary travelers.

Last weekend was my one year sober mark and quite honestly, it’s been a difficult milestone to navigate. The weeks leading up to that anniversary were filled with flashbacks and memories that would hit me with a force I wasn’t prepared for and were tough to work through. The months before my hospital stay a year ago were dark ones and the guilt and despair that come with each memory of that time have been painful. Every time one swooped in, it was like I was on the downward part of a huge swing, when your stomach falls through your feet and you are positive there’s no going back up. You’re sure you are going to just crash right through the seat of that swing and just keep shooting deeper and deeper into the ground. It has taken some pretty serious effort to keep my mind from following that momentum down into the depths. My savior through these ridiculous flashbacks has been work and how incredibly busy it has been. It has helped keep me both focused and worn out. By the time I was getting home, there was absolutely no energy left to beat myself up in the quiet of the evening.

I believe I’m at the tail end of the memory punches, thankfully. By this time last year I was out of the hospital and had started down the ‘how the hell to survive’ path. There is a big part of me that is truly shocked I have made it here, 100% soberly. With all the warnings about how common it is to relapse in the first year, I was fully prepared for one. I am also aware that just because a year has gone by, it doesn’t mean I can let my guard down. That guard will have to be kept up for the rest of my life. There is also this other part of me that isn’t as shocked I am where I am. I have found that when I put my mind to something, apparently I can actually make it happen. This realization that the reason things weren’t coming to fruition for me was not because I couldn’t but simply because I didn’t has been quite empowering. This new sense of feeling like I can do it, is a lot of pressure, ’cause now I have to do it. This, I am guessing, would be where balance will need to come into play. I am notorious for over planning, over reaching, over promising, and then destroying myself emotionally when I fail to reach my astronomical hopes of accomplishments. Staying grounded has always been a struggle for me, but practice is making it easier. I still keep my head in the clouds just enough to keep the dreams flowing, but am getting better at not allowing them to lift me too high off the ground.

Another huge reason I believe I have made it this far, this sober, is each and every one of you reading this, along with my family and friends. Every single person sharing in this journey means the world to me. You have kept me honest, held me accountable and fueled my desire to stay sober. Your comments have reminded me I am not alone and your support continues to fill me with gratitude and humility. Thank you, with all my heart and soul. I am so incredibly grateful.

No, there was no magic switch that flipped on the 365 day mark, and yes, the ‘head in the clouds’ part of me held out a secret hope there would be, but that’s ok. Each day it gets a little easier to push away the cravings, and I am grateful for that. I still am, and probably always will be, shocked at how quickly my depression can drag me into dark corners and sit on my chest, pinning me down. No matter how good my days are going, that monster lurks. I am getting a little better at talking myself through these episodes and realizing that sometimes, it’s ok to just sit in that corner. The more I struggle sometimes, the more I work myself up into a place of chaos and confusion. As long as I remember there is light just around that corner, I have seen it, I know it’s there, it is easier to deal with the darkness. Anxiety, depression and addiction are part of me, and with each passing day, I am becoming more and more ok with that, because I no longer am allowing them to control me.

I truly hope you all know what you mean to me, and you all feel the gratitude and love I am sending out to each and every one of you. You are not alone in your struggles, whatever they may be. There are others in this universe that feel what you are going through. Know that I am here for you, that I genuinely hope you find the peace and joy you deserve. Thank you all, so much, for the incredible love and support you have shown me through all this. I am aware that a year is just a drop in the bucket, but we can all do this. As long as we continue to lift each other up with an empathetic, loving, understanding heart, we can make it through the darkness, step out into the sun and start allowing the rays to warm us. We can all fill our branches with fresh new leaves together.

I really do love you!!!

3 comments

  1. Jenn, I am inspired by your words, blessed to be part of your family, and hopeful that I can be as courageous as you at slaying my own demons.

  2. As always, you express things so very beautifully, and I am, also as always, in awe of you, your resolve, your strength, your example to all of us, and your willingness to help anyone who may need your help. I love you and am grateful you are still here to continue to bless and inspire me!

  3. I just re-read this, and am still feeling grateful you are still here and an all-important part of my life! Your example is as inspiring to me now as it was those months ago when you wrote it and made your 1 year milestone! I am going to try to learn from your strength and example! I continue to love and admire you! Mom

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