“…one of the primary differences between alcoholics and nonalcoholics is that nonalcoholics change their behavior to meet their goals and alcoholics change their goals to meet their behaviors.” The Big Book


So 90 days into sobriety and I look at where I’ve been thus far. Some days, I feel like I can conquer the world: I feel joy, energy, happiness and hope. Other days, I feel antsy, agitated, impatient and restless. And, sadly, downright angry. Sometimes, I like to think I am angry at nothing at all. HA. But I know better. Something always triggers something. To say to myself or to others that  I don’t know why I’m angry is like saying I threw a stone in a pond and no ripples occurred.

Changing my behavior to meet my goals is totally new. When I was drinking, I “downgraded” my life in so many aspects just so I could keep continue to fuel my addiction. After all, I believed I was never good enough, worthy enough, or deserving enough to live a life of happiness and prosperity. I lied to myself and said that I deserved to drink because I was feeling so wretched inside. Nobody could possibly understand the guilt, shame, sadness and perpetual sense of hopelessness I had in my heavy heart. And, to make matters worse, my “God” set me up for this misery. I mean, if He wanted me to be happy, he could make it happen. So, because I felt stuck, it had to be His fault. Year after painful year, I would quip in late December that “This just wasn’t my year to have it all. Maybe next year!” 

But as I elicited laughs from my peers, the truth was there is an inherent part of me that buys into this sick theory. For years, I have allowed alcohol to speak for me, and ultimately, steer my life and my decisions. The most detrimental of all is the way I allowed alcohol to define me externally and internally.

As I continue to move away from using alcohol as my numbing agent and more towards AA, my sponsor, my therapist, mediation, blogging, BFB on Yahoo, journaling and being honest, I have found that it’s not the goals that need to change; it’s me.

Coming to this realization hasn’t been without resistance. How could I undue 44 years of misguided thinking?

“One day at a time.”

It wasn’t easy to start self-care so I had to go about it in a backwards way. I thought about how I would want my own children to be treated. Would I stand by and watch someone degrade my children? Would I tell them their dreams were too big and not to expect much out of life? Did I think they were deserving of forgiveness and unconditional love? By thinking of them and how, as a mother, I wanted them to feel utterly protected, loved, and respected by this universe I was able to SLOWLY make the transition to myself. (And when I say SLOWLY, I mean at a snail’s pace…I’m nowhere near the finish line let alone the halfway mark. Hell, I just suited up and tied my shoes!)

And because I am not at the point where I have totally immersed myself in new thinking, I still often revert to the notion of the impression I leave on my children.  I question how do I want my kids to remember me at the end of the day? Do I want them to refer to me as painful, distant, irritated, or do I prefer they smile and think, “Mom was fun and light-hearted, peaceful.” (Please do not read this as I am longing to be the “fun mom” who seeks to be buddies with her children. I have taught hs for 22 years and understand those ramifications all too well.)

So, just for today, I will reach for my newly developed goals and NOT reach for alcohol. I will be grateful for my sobriety and for the opportunity to be clear-headed enough to be introspective so I can make positive changes.

 

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