Being sober is the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received. And for the first five years of my sobriety, I lived in a world of perpetual perkiness. I even walked through a marriage and divorce with what dignity and grace. And then that special someone walked into my life. And I was completely smitten! People commented on a regular basis about how good we were together….and we were. Or so I thought. What I realized was that I had entered my first relationship in recovery and was truly in love for the first time. But I was alone in that and the relationship ended abruptly and very unexpectedly. This was an emotional bottom, for me, of great magnitude.
I never hit a bottom like this as a still suffering alcoholic. And it was huge. The stages of grief were almost more than I could handle. I was desperate to turn off the emotions. I was desperate to not feel at all. And I wanted to drink!
My heart physically hurt and the pain was nearly unbearable. The question that may come to mind for some people reading this is, “How could a person cause this much pain to someone with five years of sobriety?” The answer to that question is: I still had a lot of work to do on me and God waited until I was able to handle it to do the work.
Prior to that relationship beginning, I had begun work on a very intense sex inventory. This one involved all of my past and it was quite scary. You see, my story includes a lot of alcohol combined with sex. And I did NOT want to do this inventory. So when a new distraction came along, I opted to stop doing the inventory.
When this breakup happened and I was in so much pain, I had two choices, jump deeper into recovery or drink. My instinct was to drink. It’s what I wanted more than anything. However, that was not much of an option for me. From day one of the breakup I began reaching out to people. I begged for help. I begged God to let me die. I cried every day for nearly four months. I prayed for the willingness to surrender that person. I prayed to let it all go. But through all of that, I never picked that drink and I finished that sex inventory.
The sex inventory was the most painful inventory I had walked through. Looking at my past behaviors with men and women alike, people I had mistreated and used and manipulated through some type of sexual behavior (even if only flirting) to get what I wanted was not my idea of a good time. But cleansing it was. I had also made the decision to not allow any intimate relationships into my life for at least six months. What? Six months? I had never been single longer than two months. This was absurd.
For the next six months, I focused on being as involved as I could. I went to tons of meetings. I picked up new sponsees and worked closely with my sponsor. I let myself feel what I needed to feel. I cried and cleansed and eventually began laughing again. I really began to understand what peace and serenity really is. That understanding came to me because for the first time in my life, I surrendered to a power greater than myself, all of me. I believed so completely in God’s will for me and abandoned my own will. And I knew freedom.
What I learned of myself was that I had lived in ego for five years. I’d always relied on someone else to bring me joy and had no idea what being happy on my own looked like. In that time, I learned to love myself and be my own friend. This is the biggest gift I’ve received in recovery.