Alcoholic Birthday #8

Posted on January 8, 2014

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Somehow, another year has passed. Each one seems to fly by more quickly than the last and this one caught me by surprise.

I think it is very natural to be reflective on my sobriety birthday, I think most people are to some extent.  Most years I sort of acknowledge my personal milestone, I get a couple of congratulatory text messages from people close enough to know what day it is, and I keep moving. In my early sober years I would always share my story at my homegroup but then I had several years that I didn’t celebrate it at all.

This year, I decided to share my story again.  I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for my life, amazed at the transformation, excitement for my future, and awe at how close I came to losing my life. The thing is, I never valued my life so it didn’t seem like a big deal back then. I know I have talked about this before, but when I was drunk I never thought about my future because I assumed I didn’t have one. I thought I would pass out one night and magically never wake up. Unfortunately, one night it became abundantly clear that, in my drunken journey, it was very likely that I was going to kill someone else before drinking killed me.

My life-changing, sobering event came late one night after many hours of drinking when I was driving home. On the freeway, at freeway speed, I passed out behind the wheel of my car. And yes, I crashed into an innocent person. Not only did I manage to change my life forever, but I had impacted another person’s life, in a very negative way.

This year, for some unknown reason, I have been thinking about that night alot. Obviously I was not in my proper state of mind, but I had so many light bulb moments that night. My sponsor always talks about seconds and inches, life is all about seconds and inches. Meaning that every tiny decision we make in every second of our day, in every movement we choose to make can change our lives for better or worse. That has never been more clear to me than the night of my accident. Literally in a split second my entire life was different.

I remember thinking, as I walked around the wreckage, dealing with police, being confused, bleeding, that there must be a different plan for me. As much as I drank and as reckless as I was with my life and my choices somehow I managed to survive. I don’t know how, but every night I passed out, I would wake up the next morning. And I was angry because of it. I desperately wanted it to be over.

It had never crossed my mind in all of my drunken insanity that I could possibly hurt another person.

And I don’t know why I am so sentimental about it this year. I think, partially because I can’t believe the person I used to be. It seems like an entirely different person and an entirely different life. I cannot connect that person from that night to the person I am right now. Luckily, I was the only person hurt. And I believe it was lucky that I got to carry those physical injuries with me in the beginning of my sobriety. It was my very embarrassing and public reminder of what I had done and of the importance of my choice to be sober.

Perhaps because my life is so different today I find myself incredulous thinking about how I was. Perhaps, in my sobriety I value my life because I have one. I get to get up each day and make conscious choices about my life and what I want it to be. I get to build a business, I get to grow as a person, I get to be a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a dog mom, a friend, a respected professional, and I get to be of service everyday of my life. Before sobriety, I just got to be drunk.

So grateful for these 8 years, so grateful for the 12 steps, and so grateful for my higher power giving me the willingness to do all of this because that is not the person I was. But it is, now, the person I am.

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