If you knew that the end was near, how would you like to live your final hours? If you had the chance to avoid the circumstances that lead up to your hardest fall, what would you change in hopes of avoiding the consequences? How would you like to be remembered?
As I reflect on the past year, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve lived a lifetime in only 12 months. I stand in front of the mirror, 5’2 in height, brown skin, and the same chipped front tooth that has been there since December of 2020. My hair is short, yet again, for what feels like the 100th time. But I don’t feel the same.
The “lifetime” I lived within the last year, has shifted something drastically in my psyche. I can see it in the way I walk, the way my smile extends a little wider, or in the ease of my speech. Even if I still carry all of the idiosyncrasies that make me, me, or if I’m still navigating through entanglements I once created, I don’t recognize this version of myself.
Is this the beginning of the end?
I was 13 years old the last time I visited my family in Mexico. I don’t remember much of the trip. I vaguely recall the faded yellow walls of my grandmother’s living room. And if you ask me what street she lives on or how to get to La Plasa from her house, I wouldn’t be able to give you proper directions. But for some reason, I’ll always remember going to Michoacán that year and traveling to a small river town called Lago de Camécuaro.
I can describe to you in vivid detail how green the leaves were from the river trees. Or how from the very ground, unearthed the clear river water, you could see natural springs bursts beneath the river’s aquifers. I can tell you that on that trip I ate fried grasshopper, which tasted similar to a salted kettle chip. And like many trips before that, my dad drunkenly faught my mother, causing us to leave early, yet again.
They say people recall memories that leave us with an emotional imprint. It’s how we formulate our thoughts, values and self-beliefs. It took me 25 years to understand that because of these emotional imprints, I began to cultivate self-beliefs of myself that were reflective of the circumstances I had accepted all my life.
I believed I wasn’t worthy of enjoying a nice experience because I carried an anxiety that something or someone will take away that joy from me. I believed all men were disrespectful and unmanageable because of my experiences with my father. And I believed that it was acceptable to have unhealthy relationships with alcohol because I never saw examples of responsible drinking or accountability.
Realizing that my journey in sobriety wasn’t just about “getting sober” helped me understand and show grace to parts of myself I had to revisit.
My journey in sobriety has been a returning to self, un regresó. It’s about relearning self-beliefs that no longer served me in this new chapter of my life. It required me to place more emphasis on loving myself and having confidence in who I am, which was the hardest part in getting sober.
Not picking up a drink was easy. It was looking back at my old habits and asking myself WHY I chose to do so. Then, it was trusting myself, after having gained some tools and done some work, that was difficult.
I had to learn how to let go of the shame and guilt that nearly broke me. It is easy for me to forgive others in their hardest time and I often struggled with the self-belief that I wasn’t worthy of that same compassion.
Forgiving myself for the choices I made gave me the opportunity to learn what compassion felt like.
One of the most valuable parts of my journey today has been learning how to regain confidence. Understanding that my lack of confidence stemmed deeper than just a “lack of feeling good”, was a game changer. One of which, I’m still actively working on.
I had to understand that showing myself love meant keeping myself accountable, therefore, going that extra mile if I knew I had the capacity. Growing up and into my young adult life, accountability was something I knew very little of, let alone, setting boundaries for myself that allowed me to stay accountable. So as you can imagine, I lived a very chaotic life, mindlessly disregarding the mistreatment from others & the mistreatment I had caused.
In learning how to become accountable, it meant I had to create goals, with actionable intention behind how I would accomplish them. This required me to look at my relationships, start setting boundaries & permanently removing myself from circumstances that no longer served me.
I emphasize permanently because it required me to make a commitment to let go of situations and relationships that did not benefit the change I was working towards. The word permanently terrified me, and I knew then and there it was time to take a leap of faith in myself. Most importantly, it meant I had to start making commitments that required more of me if I wanted more for myself.
It meant showing up late nights and early morning to the promises I made for myself and not expecting an applause from a crowd. It was about creating discipline. It was about having integrity.
I started to tell myself this is what I deserve. I deserve better, therefore I must work for it. I had created new sets of self-beliefs that were now reflective of the standards I had for myself. Through my journey in sobriety, I had to realize once I had forgiven the parts of me that I wasn’t proud of, I would have to show up as someone I was, and continue to be her everyday.
It was accepting that I could do it all if I just allowed myself to believe. If I allowed myself to have faith. Once I opened myself up to those possibilities I began to see real change in my life.
Slowly I began to let go of my past. I stopped living there and started living in the present. In exchange for the anxiety I once held onto, I cherished each experience with gratitude. I still get emotional even as I write this.
I put emphasis in my relationship with my high power and let my faith guide me. And thus, I watched as my relationship with my family began to restore itself. I grew in confidence. I grew in self-love. I grew in faith. I grew in grace. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth every difficult moment.
I kept in mind, in dire times, god’s grace: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
My journey in sobriety isn’t a special case. I’m no different in God’s eyes than the homeless man on the street or the richest man in their penthouse suite. My journey and my experiences have been lived and can be relieved. I am just as capable of throwing all of my accomplishments away and starting at 1 all over again. With that being said, I have the choice every day to continue doing what I set out to do, for as long as I am alive, and that’s the greatest privilege I have.
Ultimately, the journey of self discovery and betterment is an ever going experience of learning and relearning. Trial and error. Birth and grief. You must start something in order to end it. And if you’re anything like me and you’re tired of living in a cycle, perhaps it is time to end that part of your life and start from a new beginning.
If you ask me how would I like to be remembered, I would want to tell the world to keep their faith high. The future is bright, if you have faith it will be.