‘I am 14 years sober today!’ by Veronica Valli

ID-100227306-300x300Congratulations, Veronica! And thank you for your great blog.

‘Today is my 14th sober birthday. When you get to my age, birthdays aren’t something you necessarily want to shout about.

But recovered addicts and alcoholics have a different attitude to their sober birthdays. Every year we have under our belts has been hard fought for. This did not come easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so hell yeah; I’m going to let everyone know how proud I am to have got this far. [Too right! DC]

So here are the 14 things I’ve learnt about sobriety along the way…

1. Just when you think you’ve nailed it…
More than once I’ve thought ‘I’ve got this!’ ‘I know everything there is to know about recovery and addiction’, ‘I’ve dealt with all my issues…. I don’t really need to do anymore work on myself’. Yep, that usually happens right before I fall flat on my arse.

2. The growth never stops…
Ever. I mean, like never, ever stops. It smooth’s out a lot, things are definitely less bumpy. But there is always more to know and if you think you know, all there is to know, then see above.

3. We teach other people how to treat us
My behavior will instruct you on whether to walk all over me, abuse me or hurt me. Instead, I can teach you how to treat me, with the boundaries I protect and by saying what I mean.

4. Say what you mean, mean what you say…
People do not need to hear me waffling on about my story, they do not need excuses, they generally just need a truthful ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ my life became so much similar and calmer when I learnt how to do this.

5. I have to take responsibility for the experience I want to have
By practicing the above I become responsible for the experience I am having right now. If events or circumstances are out of my control then I always get to choose my response. Therefore, I am responsible for my experience, in all circumstances, without fail.

6. If you don’t do the work, the shine will go off your recovery
Being sober is just not enough. I need more than that. If I don’t put the work in, then I may stay sober, but I’ll stop feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’ll drift back to being discontent and fearful.

7. Give it away to keep it
When my life came together in sobriety and my career and personal life went well I forgot to work with newcomers. Don’t do that. Giving of yourself is actually what fills your tanks.

8. Does it always need to be said and does it need to be said by you?
Not usually, I have discovered. Only give your opinion if explicitly asked, trust me, it saves a lot of time and trouble.

9. Exercise
Out of everything I have just told you, this is the most important one. Seriously, the benefits of exercising on your emotional well-being outweigh everything else you can possibly do.

10. Practice listening
None of us listen well. Quiet the noise in your head and really focus on what people are saying. You will be amazed at what you hear.

11. It was never about you
OMG! The relief! It was never about me anyway. What YOU did or said, had bollocks all to do with my life. Everyone else is wrapped up in their own stuff too! Now I can stop worrying what other people think and get on with it!

12. Nothing is ever personal
See above. What other people do, say or think is always about them, not me. Even when it seems like it is, what other people do or say, always without fail, comes through the filters of their own experience, values and judgment. Therefore it is not personal to me but a simple expression of how they feel at that particular time. Took me a while to get that one.

13. The journey is joyous…
It was never the destination. We are always in a state of becoming the best version of ourselves. Uncovering who we really are, is the point of it all. All I ever had to do was just keep moving.

14. Love well
There was always much love here for me; I just refused to see it for a while. Always choose love, the chooses I have made in my life based on fear have never worked out. If I choose love, then things don’t always work out the way I want or planned but man, is the adventure a good one!’

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