Five ways my life is better because I'm sober and practicing mindfulness

#ichosemylife #inspiredrelationships #metamorphix #relationships #selfcare #sober #sobriety Feb 12, 2024

It’s not enough to stop drinking if you’ve had problems with alcohol in your life. I can still be a total jerk, I’m afraid.

But I’m so much less of jerk than I would be if I had kept drinking. I often think that I wouldn’t still get to be here if I had kept drinking and going down the path I was on.

Drinking that gets us into situations we don’t want to be in can be difficult to stop. Because when we don’t have the distractions that drinking gives us, we have more opportunities to feel the crushing weight of life. To feel the feather-lightness of true freedom. To feel it all. And to take full responsibility for it all. Not so easy.

But that second part—learning new ways and taking responsibility for my life: that’s the bit that matters as much as not drinking.

Maybe you know some of my story—I started drinking at 12-years-old. I went on a bit of a self-destructive rampage for about six years.

Then I went to treatment and my life started again—and I say that with very little hyperbole.

Today is my 38th anniversary of my sober date. After 38 years, anyone could get complacent—comfortable. Anyone could start to take the sobriety for granted.

But I have never—not one day—taken this work for granted. Without the foundation of sobriety, I wouldn’t likely have any of the amazingly good things of my life.

In recognition of this gift of real life, I wrote a list. I love lists.  And I love gratitude. Here are 5 things that my sobriety has afforded me:

  1. My genuine ability to develop and grow my mindfulness practice. This is that second part that makes everything else possible. As Jon Kabat Zinn—one of the Western leaders in the mindfulness field—describes it, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” It’s the non-judgmental part that can kick my ass. Remember, judgement is the thing that leads to anxiety or depression. Non-judgment means accepting what is: a small miracle every time.
  2. My ability to do my dishes, clean my bathroom, do my laundry, get my car washed, and other practical joys of clearing and cleaning. If this list seems simple to you: bravo! One of the things that deep addiction does is take away our ability to perform otherwise-simple tasks. Practical clearing and cleaning leads to…
  3. Spiritual clearing, cleaning, and growth. One of the demons that I was fighting as a young person was the inner conflict I felt in being raised Catholic. I couldn’t make sense of how this religion could be good when the way it came to me felt so bad. I distrusted all ways of spiritual knowing for some time. I’ve been able to sort through this and develop a deep sense of knowing and being in the mystery of life that isn’t defined by religion.
  4. I live in the grey. Black and white thinking—“good” or “bad”—was something I had to train myself out of. Being a daily-news reporter helped this effort tremendously. So many people are convinced by their black-and-white idea of how something is. It was my literal job to find the nuance, the more textured understanding. If I had been drinking, I probably wouldn’t have been able to translate that learning to my relationships.
  5. And the crown jewel of all the gifts: Rich, warm, and wonderful relationships. My relationships aren’t perfect: big surprise! But they are true, genuine, life-giving, creative, and connective. It’s nearly impossible to create that kind of relationship when the mind and body are clouded by the habits of addiction.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and celebrate the wonderful gift of sober living with me. I am grateful to all the people—my dear friends and family, and the literally thousands in circles of support and learning—who have held me along the way. It has taken so much for me to keep becoming who I want to be. And it is an absolute privilege to share this gift with others.


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