Yesterday, I celebrated 11 years of sobriety and it felt big. Not only because it crept up on me, as it tends to do, but I felt even less prepared for this milestone than I have in the past. Despite feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude, this last year has been challenging, and the repercussions have left me feeling sad, lonely, anxious and fearful. Not the best state of mind to hole up in, yet here I am; painfully aware of my growing pains and suffocated at times by a crippling sense of self-doubt. However, with another year under my belt, it allows for some much needed time to contemplate, refocus and celebrate the wins along with the losses.

When I stopped using, I had no intention of staying sober. I was simply seeking refuge from my life; a dizzying rollercoaster of emotional bottoms fueled by cosmos, white wine, dirty martinis and cocaine. The cocktail of choice for insecurity and self-sabotage.

Growing up I felt like there was an invisible line that kept me separate from everyone else. I relied heavily on drugs and alcohol to feel comfortable enough to cross that line. Soon I was unable to differentiate between the two and my life became a struggle, smaller and more confined.

After one night in particular, I vowed to make a change, which was not uncharacteristic of me and my partying ways. In fact, I had sworn to myself and others on many occasions that I would cut back or stop altogether, only to forget those promises at the start of the next happy hour. However, there was something different about this time; more dedication, more resolve. When I awoke after my declaration to get sober, that determination I had the night before was palpable. With cautious optimism and a tiny bit of courage, I walked toward my future self, leaving my broken, insecure, old self behind.

The road to recovery has not been without it’s challenges and there were many times in which I screamed, “I can’t.” And yet I stayed the course. Sometimes by sheer will alone, which I don’t recommend. Every disappointment, let down and heartache made me stronger. Eventually, it became less desirable to pick up a drink in response to some form of pain. That in itself is a miracle as I self-medicated in the past to cope with feelings I was unequipped to handle. With each sober breath, I began to tolerate my feelings and interactions with others, but most importantly I learned how to live in harmony with myself. Even on my darkest days, which if I’m being honest, I’m feeling big time right now, I know that I will be okay; taken care of in ways unimaginable.

It’s not always easy for me to reach out or to ask for help, especially today. I so desperately want to be the woman who has it all together, that I forget to be human. This birthday is divine timing, as I’m being tested in more ways than one - embracing and preparing for what is surely going to be a new awakening.

I spent yesterday retreating. Practicing yoga. Crying. Walking in nature. Feeling the sun on my face. Listening to music. Crying some more. And snuggling with Jax. I spent my 11th sobriety birthday feeling, rooted in my present and I couldn’t ask for anything better.