Sobriety Sweet 16

Maybe it’s being smack in the middle of the fuck-it-forties, maybe it’s waking up every single morning and having my heart in my throat as to what horrendous things have happened as we slept, but this sobriety sweet 16 seems more fragile now than ever.

I remember very little about actually being 16.  I remember what it felt like.  I remember feeling unsure and timid.  I remember really big, permed hair. I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in and yet, being friends with just about everyone. I remember feeling like I was always missing out.  I remember giving my parents the business and yet they were still right there, protecting me and cheering me on. I remember having a really good time doing what I loved doing.  Whether that was figure skating or singing or being with my church group or a boy I was dating at the time, I remember feeling it really deeply and joyfully.  I remember Tom Petty. For the first time I felt cool listening to Tom Petty tapes in my friend’s convertible at lunchtime as we cruised the suburbs to get lunch at Wendy’s and sang our hearts out. I remember Free Fallin’ and those lunches feeling like freedom. I remember constantly questioning what people were doing when I wasn’t there. I remember mean girls.  I remember feeling all these feelings and thinking that nobody else was feeling them, and then finding out later WE ALL FELT THIS WAY.

Well, I like this sweet 16 quite a bit more. Even though it comes with a mortgage and kids and a job and way too much responsibility and heartache.


Living, really living, is heartache. WOOOOHOOOOO. *insert party horn sound here*

Sweet 16. Ah youth. It wouldn’t be until age 18 that I started my drinking career. I didn’t yet know how drinking would alleviate all those insecurities for me. I didn’t yet know how drinking would alleviate everything from my life until there were no more feeling good parts left.

Today is better. 44 years old is better. This is better. This is Sobriety. This is Recovery. This is incredibly hard, primal screaming, all the crying, facing life on life’s terms -but at this point, it’s easier. I mean, sure I want to tear down walls and throw things and I weep for what is happening all around us, but I can do all this sober.  And that is better. Messy, but better.

I get to give and receive love.  If I were to leave this world today, my people would know how I love them.  How I appreciate them. How I value them in my life. Without question, people know. And I believe them in turn when they shower me with their love.

As I was hugging my husband to death this morning I said, “I just want to do this all day.”  He left to get in the shower a minute later, but I know he wanted to hug me all damn day too.

We have a new kitty love in our lives and it’s as if she’s always been there.  We regularly remember Sally Boy and Eliza Jane, but our Bella is the moon and stars to us right now.

And my kids.  Oh my kids.

The way it feels when I’m away from them tells me almost more than when I’m with them. The ache.  You know it.  You ache to feel them in your arms, to hear their voices that grate at times when you hear them too often, to feel their breath. To listen to their discoveries that I had long forgotten. They are everything good and ridiculously lovely and I still don’t know how I have all this, but I don’t take it for granted for a second.  And all I put my parents through as they were longing for me to come back to them, well, I get it now and it rips my heart out to think I did that to them. I love you mom and dad.

My boy was ill a few days ago and he looked at me and asked, “Am I going to be ok, mama?” with his sister paying close attention and then the heavens opened up and swallowed me whole.  As long as I am breathing, I will move mountains to make sure you are ok.

Loving these kids is pure heartache. The promises come true. I love you so much. 

I love you so much, Chance. Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I smile big.  And tears spring forth.  He is so good.  Samantha sent me this song last week and I feel all the feelings every time I listen to it.  My kids are in love with Chance too and that’s just the sweetest. Listen, you’ll dig it.

I’ve been watching a couple great shows lately – Enlightenment – I never watched this show when it was originally on because I think I was in baby making hell and not able to focus on anything but goddamn is this show good.

I tend to go through this meditation every morning or one like it and eventually it all falls apart, but I do my best.  This show is pretty incredible for any of us who have been through rehab or counseling or any kind of self help courses. It’s utterly ridiculous. We fight against our inner selves constantly and well, it’s a great big mess.  I believe in affirmations. I believe we can change.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  There is hope.

And then there is Mom.  Allison Janney is a national treasure.  There is much humor to be found in sobriety and recovery and how messy it all is.  We mess up every single day, but that’s the beauty of recovery. It just. keeps. going. And this show does a good job of the need for family and friends who get us and how we all screw that up but keep forgiving and trying again.

16 years of sobriety.  They say every 7 years we shed our full skin.  So that’s something I’ve done TWICE now.  Plus a couple years.  I’ve been sober longer than I drank.  I hope I get to be sober the rest of my days.  And who the hell knows how long that will be, but whatever it is, I’m good. Even when I’m miserable today, it’s still better than it was.

It seems like it goes on FOREVER, right? But it doesn’t.  It really doesn’t.  We only have this time, this life. And maybe some other lives too, I don’t know, but the people we can impact in THIS ONE LIFE are worthy of my best self. It’s more about other people than it is about me these days, and I mean, FINALLY.  I am SICK OF MYSELF.  I have worked so long and so hard on myself that I am utterly bored with the introspection.  But this fuck-it-forties thing has given me pretty important, powerful, rage-love filled gratitude that I am pretty damn comfortable expressing in all kinds of ways at this point.  Take that, sweet young 16 year old me!

Life seems too hard to go on without a buffer.  A filter. A sheild. A weapon of some sort.  But to present myself without that armor, without that sarcasm and snark, without that attack mode turned full tilt – that is freedom.

It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be sad, mad, pissed, angry, rage-filled.  It’s ok. As long as there’s gratitude and love in there too, these are human emotions and to be able to feel all these feelings is something that’s still relatively new to me. Don’t let anybody tell you that you need to get over something or let it go because you will when you are ready.  When I sit in something long enough, I know when it’s time, and then I’m ready.  Otherwise it JUST KEEPS COMING BACK.  I don’t have to stuff it all down or act like everything is ok when it’s not.  The same lessons I’m trying to teach to my kids, about expressing emotions in a healthy way, I’m finally able to do myself.

I find great hope in the simple sunrise and sunset. I find it miraculous that no matter what atrocities happen at any given time, that damn sun still rises and sets when it’s supposed to every single day. I struggle to find the light of the sun, but each and every day, it’s necessary for me to get up and do this deal. I am responsible today.


There is some serious beauty going down. Catch it where you can.

Sobriety Sweet 16.  Cheers to another year sober and another year of swinging and missing and swinging yet again. As ever, I want to be an agent of change. I practice kindness and gratitude and when necessary, some serious rage against injustice. I’m passing it on as often as I possibly can because that’s how this works. It’s all part of it.

This caretaking notion is so important now. We need to care for each other. We need to be raising kids who are looking out for each other instead of just self. Instead of this how can I get mine. I take this responsibility very very seriously. It’s key to our survival with compassion here on this earth.

I remain as ever, filled with gratitude and yes, still so much hope. I’m so thankful for those who walked this walk before me and those who continue to show me the way. I never ever thought I would be around this long and in this space.  I’m holding space for you if you’d like to join me. And I have candy. Thank you for being here with me.

Here are all the damn soberthday posts I’ve written since I started this here blog – I’ve written my gd heart out and you should read these:

15 Years

14 Years

13 Years

12 Years

11 Years

10 Years

All posts on Sobriety

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