When you start this journey of sobriety you begin with a day 1. Anyone who is on this journey has one, a day 1. Some people may have many day 1’s, I know I have. As the initial days begin to tick by you start to zone in on the number of days. Particularly in the beginning as the first days are so important and help you get the strength and excitement to keep going. You find strength and celebration in each day.
As the time ticks by, it can feel like a contest of sorts, but it is not. Each journey is different and each path is our own. But still as people around you share their days you worry what if I mess up? I will fall behind, I will lose my days and the gap between us will grow. I repeat there is no competition, only the one you create in your own mind.
Then when you trip up, relapse as some say, the clock starts again for you but not the others. They keep going and soon I found I was far behind, wishing I was where they were. But I had no one to blame but myself. I drank, they did not, they kept going.
It is a very lonely feeling, one of shame, pain and angst. Questions like why can’t I do this? Why am I such a loser? When will I get this right? But you see these are the wrong questions and the wrong approach. My brain would jump to resentment as I heard the days and months of others, knowing I could have been right there with them. I would beat myself up, still do at times. I felt weak, lost and forgotten.
But I have come to realize everybody did not leave you. They are paving the way for you. They are clearing the path so you can follow them, making it easier for you to keep going. No matter how many times you fall down, they will come back for you, pick you up and help you keep going. This is not a race, or a destination, this is your life and for me, my sanity.
Flip the script as you listen to others share their days, see them as personal triumphs for your fellow sober trail blazers. I have come to realize this journey is mine and mine alone, but that does not mean I have to do it alone. I need help, I need others to show me the way, to help me not get lost. I want the numbers, need the days to be honest, to keep ticking along. I know now, the counting of days from others is my inspiration, the light that leads me on my way. I need not compare or resent, I need to embrace and applaud others, as I know those before me are my guides to my long term sobriety. I am grateful for those before me, always.
~K from the Hill Country