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The Days of our Sober Lives (and what I do when life is on fire.)

My son wakes up at either 2am, 4am or both every night. Each time I guide him back to his bed and tuck him in. He is up again at 6am and I go into his bedroom to sleep the last hour with him so he stays in bed. When he went off to school today I knew I would get a call to come and pick him up. His impatient dressing, frustrated mannerisms, and clenched jaw on the way out, assured me so.

He is not a child, a tween or even a teen. He is 19 years old in two months, a young man. A lot of the time, I feel as though I have a 6’, 180lb toddler. Greyson has autism, anxiety, and epilepsy. I believe there is some other mysterious undiagnosed mental condition also in the mix.

Instead of working today, I’ve spent it talking to the staff at school, searching online for new supports that I haven’t already called, and talking to his Dad about the impossibility of our situation at school and at home. Oh, and crying.

If all this wasn’t enough…I am expelling a lot of energy on another relationship due to an unexpected development in circumstances. It all has to do with my people-pleasing, a lack of clear boundaries and communication. It’s uncomfortable and is most certainly the work I need to be doing right now.

They say things come in three. My partner called me around noon to say that our office was broken into. Someone threw something through the back window and his office area is showered in glass.

If this seems like a piece of writing designed to elicit sympathy, it’s not. (I know you all may have challenges as big or bigger than mine.) Feeling sorry for myself isn't what I go to these days when hell breaks loose. I've learned how to step out of that for the most part. These days, I'm underneath it, working in deep layers of acceptance. I have no choice but to toil here if I want to survive and thrive, sober.

When I finally stopped drinking in 2014, there was a period, where I was insulated and protected from the scratchy life I had thrown together in my addiction. All I had to do was show up at 12 step meetings, read, listen and not drink. All my other problems seemed to take a giant step back, allowing me to keep moving forward. Thank goodness for that, because I was only capable of so much. I realize not everyone experiences this in early sobriety. I have coaching clients who are facing immense disturbances in their little bit of newfound serenity and are hanging on for dear life.

Today’s journal is to remind myself (and maybe, you) no matter how sober we are, how much work we have done, or what support we have available to us…being human is fucking hard. Because it’s fucking hard and I no longer numb with substances, I have intuitively moved towards three ways to slow my descent when I am tumbling towards the fire.

1. I shift my physical body or experience and place my awareness there. I am drinking a warm cup of Earl Grey tea, which feels like a warm hand on my heart on this sunny but chilly spring day. It’s truly helping. Whether it’s drinking tea or a glass of water, dancing, stretching, running, walking in nature, or taking a hot (and then cool) shower, physical practices always affect my mental and emotional experience for the better. At the very least, distraction can bring relief.

2. At the opposite end of the spectrum, bringing all my awareness to, and embodying my rage, grief, despair, frustration, and sadness - fully feeling my emotions - for a set time only, is far more powerful than drinking them away or running/stuffing/hiding. Letting my emotions fully exist seems to soften the compulsion to hold on to them. Time heals all wounds they say. Time may heal some wounds; especially if you allow yourself to feel and complete the process of the emotion in your body; especially with the right support.

3. Understanding that my thoughts – or the stories I am telling myself right now – likely will not have any impact or sway on the outcome. What will happen down the road with Greyson, work, my health, relationships (versus what I affect in next few minutes or hours), is unknown. All I can do is temper the thought. Maybe I can even try to find some other thoughts that could bring a new perspective. Maybe I can take a small action that will affect the situation long-term.

As I write this, I realize that I am speaking to an experience met with three of my "bodies" – physical, emotional and mental. My energy has shifted from where it was when I sat down to write. As my energetic body falls in line with a more even perspective, I think of my spiritual body. In this moment, I am okay. I will be okay. I will find a way.

I am loved and connected to a more expansive existence than the one I am sitting in today.

As a person in long term recovery and a recovery coach working with others, I’m always going on about involving all our bodies in our regulation, healing and recovery. I didn’t know I was writing about this today. I guess the work is working.

My son is sleeping on the couch now. His medication and meltdowns make him tired. He can’t go to school for the next two days. I will have to juggle his needs, my needs, and the time it takes for both.

I will have to communicate clear boundaries and express my needs in all my relationships moving forward. There is no other way to be, even when the noise of staying silent and small is deafening.

I will have to continue to practice acceptance and patience when human problems arise.

I will be able to do this with (hopefully) some grace because I am sober.

This is simply a day in my sober life.

Yours is that too. May we all walk with grace. And may the light of the universe continue to shine upon our path.



P.S. If you haven't already, join me on Facebook in the Expand Beyond Recovery Facebook community!

And...I invite you to come and spend seven days of your life with yours truly and a group of fabulous recovering women in Costa Rica in November 2024 at the Expand Beyond Recovery La Anita Rainforest Retreat! Check out the details HERE. I would love to spend time with you in this extraordinary location!


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