Five Years Sober

Thoughts on Five Years Sober

Five Years Sober

Today I woke up with five years of sobriety. Five years is a long time, and yet, in reality, it’s a blip. All I have to do is look at photos of my kids from five years ago to see how long it has been since I had my last drink of alcohol. Tate was only two-years-old, thumb in his mouth, still putting together sentences and not yet potty trained. Lucy was a first grader with two loose front teeth and she didn’t have her glasses yet. Today they are seven and eleven, and the years have gone by faster than I can imagine.

2013 vs 2018

I woke up today waiting for what to say, what to write, how to express how incredibly significant this milestone is to me. But honestly, the words didn’t really come. I always forget how these anniversaries sneak up on me, the emotional and mental weight baring down until I have a moment of clarity and remember “ah yes, this is how I always feel on my sobriety birthday.” I tend to need solitude, space and rest. Days like today are where my introversion really shines. I crave my bed and the comfort of myself. Sometimes I wonder if this is healthy, this need to be alone, but today I realize it’s what refuels me to go out into the world that isn’t always the easiest for those of us who struggle with living life on life’s terms.

Five years ago I was miserable. I’ve written about that day quite a few times (here and here for example), so I don’t really want to rehash it all again. I think I’ve reached the point in this recovery journey where my focus is more on what is better now, as opposed to what was awful before. I know for a fact that the last few years would have never happened if I hadn’t found recovery. I was so lost, so alone and so utterly self-conscious about the state of my life, there is no way I would have taken the risks that have gotten me to where I am today. I certainly wouldn’t be working in advocacy again. I definitely wouldn’t be able to be there for my kids in the way I’m able now. I surely wouldn’t have a marriage at all.

Five Years Sober

In the last five years my life has exponentially grown to a point where sometimes I look around me and simply cannot believe it’s real. My life used to be very small. Now my life is bursting at the seams. Sometimes I look at my calendar and have a slight panic attack over how full it is. But then I remind myself that my life is full because I choose to fill it with beauty and love and goodness. I choose to work for myself, building a business I love. I choose to be involved in my kids’ school and activities. I choose to work on my marriage and my relationship. I choose to spend time with friends and family. I choose to fight for causes I believe in. I choose to be a human who participates in the world around me. That wasn’t always the case.

I am imperfect, and I still mess up all the time. My life didn’t magically become a fairy tale just because I stopped drinking. But it definitely stopped being a nightmare. I rarely feel regret these days, which is a gift I never knew I needed. Living my life as an honest person is challenging, but it sure beats pretending to be someone I’m not. I don’t have it all figured out. I guess I thought I would by this point, but now I realize no one really knows what they are doing. We are all just apes, flying through space on a tiny planet that feels massive to us. We are all making it up as we go along, and not just those of us who happen to struggle with drinking or shopping or drugs or [insert coping mechanism of choice here].

Five Years Sober

So, what do I have to say about five years? It’s wonderful. If you are new to the journey, I’m sure five years feels like a lifetime. And it is…but it’s also just a few revolutions around the sun. A glorious blip. And when I think of the last five years, I don’t think of “not drinking.” I think of all the things I got to do. I remember all the moments I didn’t miss. I see my daughter’s first ice skating recital and my son’s first school play. I think of the time I picked up the keys to my very first studio or the art show that was packed with a line out the door. I remember marching in Washington D.C., lobbying on Capitol Hill and testifying at the Kansas statehouse. I see several trips away with my husband, and hours in counseling, re-learning how to be a partner. I remember sharing my story with teenagers in a drug treatment center and getting emails from friends and strangers saying “me too” or “I need help.”

I get all of those memories because five years ago today I woke up sober and every day since I’ve done the same. What a gift.

Five Years Sober

All of the images in this post except for the one of the kids were taken by Kymberly Janelle. Thank you, my friend, for capturing me at this stage of my recovery. It’s so appreciated and I’m forever grateful.

If you want to learn more about my story of recovery, I suggest listening to a few interviews I’ve done on the subject here and here and here. And if you are worried about your own drinking or someone you know needs help, please reach out. You can email me at megan@crazybananas.com. No judgment. Just love.

Travel Diary : Canyon Ranch

A few weeks ago, as we were laying in bed at night, Trent said to me, “What are your plans Thursday through Sunday? I want to take you somewhere for a few days…” To say I was surprised would be a fairly large understatement. As a couple, we had been doing the thing that all middle-aged couples with busy lives/families/jobs do…we’d been taking each other for granted. The situation had left us both feeling emotionally bruised and battered, and honestly, really lonely.

So Trent decided to take action, and he booked us a three night stay at Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona. Canyon Ranch is basically a wellness camp for adults, and it was EXACTLY what we needed. The best part was that Trent planned the whole thing himself, and wouldn’t give me a hint to where we were going. Eventually, I figured out we were headed to Tuscon (hard to keep a secret when you’re holding a boarding pass!), but even after our flight landed, I still wasn’t sure where in the city we were headed. It wasn’t until our car reached the front gates that I saw where we were.

I actually hadn’t heard of Canyon Ranch before this trip, but it’s pretty popular among wellness and health conscious people as a prime destination. It’s an all-inclusive resort that boasts amazing whole foods, a plethora of exercise and workout opportunities, medical care, spiritual guidance and even metaphysical services. Our activities were all across the spectrum, from yoga to mountain biking through the desert to tarot readings and massages. I meditated in a pool of warm water, received my first craniosacral treatment and hiked a mountain. Trent even got his very first pedicure! We swam and ate delicious food, and in those three days, we worked on rediscovering who we are as a couple. It was wonderful.

I highly recommend Canyon Ranch to anyone looking to get away in an environment where health and wellness are the number one priority. The resort had no alcohol or soda, which was a huge bonus for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a vacation where alcohol wasn’t available and it was really lovely to not have it in front of me all the time. I’m so grateful to Trent for making this trip happen and for finding such an amazing place for us to spend time together!

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unruffled podcast

Creativity + Recovery on the Unruffled Podcast

I was so excited to be asked to be a guest on the Unruffled Podcast a few weeks ago! Tammi and Sondra are both artists who have found their creativity and joy expand significantly in sobriety. I loved getting to chat with them about recovery, creativity, being a small business owner, how to keep creating when you’re being paid for your art, and how to stay serene and sober when you have alcohol in your home/personal space. It was an awesome conversation and I’m so grateful Tammi and Sondra asked me to be a part of it! You can listen via this link or search for the Unruffled Podcast (Episode 26) on iTunes!

unruffled podcast

Sober Looks Good

How to Age Backwards : Get Sober

Today I turn 35 years old.

Is that old? I’m not sure. In some ways it feels old, because when I was young, I never imagined what it would be like to be 35. But in other ways, it feels so young, because I’m constantly around people who are older, wiser and have much more life experience.

35 feels significant to me because during my last BIG DEAL BIRTHDAY, when I turned 30, I was at one of the lowest points in my life, both physically and mentally. I was two months away from my first stint of sobriety (when I told myself I wouldn’t drink for 30 days…I lasted 28 before I caved, and then figured I was totally fine because I could stop for 28 days), four months away from really trying to not drink anymore, and six months away from finally kicking the booze for good. It was a WONDERFUL birthday (my very first trip to Vegas with friends), but as a whole, I wasn’t in a great place.

This time around, it’s a little different. I don’t have any huge trips planned, but I may go to lunch with some friends and a movie in the evening. I won’t be dancing the night away in Vegas, instead I’ll hopefully be in bed by 10 p.m. And there is one hugely significant change.

I’m sober. And it feels awesome.

I’ve talked quite a bit about how my drinking affected my mind, but today, on my birthday, I’m gonna get a little vain. Because while all the mental and spiritual changes have been amazing, there is a one huge change that is pretty evident, and it’s one we, as women, don’t like to talk about too much. We don’t want to sound vain or snobby, and we don’t want to call attention to ourselves. At least, I don’t. It’s also sort of scary to put this before and after out on the world wide web, where anyone can see it. But here we go.

Sober Looks Good

You guys, I look SO MUCH BETTER. The photo on the left is me two days before I finally got sober and the one on the right is this past summer after four and a half years.

I think the differences are obvious, but just in case your computer resolution isn’t on point or something, let me list it out for you…

Before
– Bloated face and stomach
– 30 lbs heavier
– Skin is sallow and unhealthy looking
– Hair looks fried and dull
– Posture is sloped and self-concious
– Eyes are dead and sad
*Kid who is with me is THE CUTEST and I’m so happy I was able to give her the gift of a sober mom.

After
– 30 lbs lighter, added muscle, zero bloat
– Hair is shiny and healthy
– Skin looks best it’s ever looked
– Eyes are bright and alert
– I am standing up straight and proud
– Smile is genuine and happy

You guys, it’s a miracle. I am asked all the time what my health regimen is and how I have managed to look younger at 35 than I did at 30. My secret? Being sober. When I’m sober I eat better, I sleep, I drink a ton of water, I read, I meditate, I work out and I take care of myself. I spent so many years dumping poison into my body to escape who I was, but when I stopped, I realized I LIKE who I am, and I’m worth being around. So instead, these days, I treat my body like it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Because I’m so, so lucky to have a body that can run and play with my kids. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a mind that can read and learn new things. It’s my obligation to treat it the best I possibly can.

So that’s my gift to myself today, on my 35th birthday. The gift of sobriety. Maybe I’ll have some cake and ice cream on the side.

Megan and Jean at She Recovers

Talking Politics and Sobriety on the Bubble Hour

I’ve been fortunate to have a plethora of tools in my recovery toolbox since I first got sober over four and a half years ago. I’ve gone to 12-step meetings, yoga classes, downloaded meditation apps, started a gratitude practice, participated in therapy…the list goes on and on. But one of the greatest tools I’ve had since the very beginning is access to podcasts.
Megan and Jean at She Recovers

These days there are tons of amazing podcasts about sobriety (Home podcast, Recover Girl), but when I was getting sober, there was only one that I could find, the Bubble Hour. I’ll never forget my first summer of recovery, when I had three major roadtrips with my 6 and 2-year-old, and I downloaded every Bubble Hour episode I could fit on my phone to get me through it. I was so humbled when I was asked to be on the show a few years ago, and even more so when Jean asked me to be on again a few weeks ago. I met Jean McCarthy (the host of the Bubble Hour and author of the Unpickled blog) at the She Recovers Conference back in May. Getting to hug her in person was one of the greatest moments of the trip, as she’s been such a huge part of my journey.

Jean and I sat down for a conversation about recovery and what’s happening in the world today. We did our best to keep personal political beliefs out of it, but if you follow me anywhere online, you know I believe that all politics are personal and that as people in recovery, we are uniquely tuned in to the plight of those that are suffering. My activism is directly tied to my sobriety, and so we discussed that, along with a few tips to help newly sober people navigate difficult conversations with loved ones about politics. You can listen via iTunes or by using the media player below!

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