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The 5 Greatest Lessons A Year Of Sobriety Has Taught Me

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Featured, Health Tips, Healthy Lifestyle, Self Love, Sobriety, Wellbeing | 14 comments

Elizabeth Finch


 

As I sit to write this post, it’s been exactly 365 days since I decided to embark on a lifestyle of sobriety. It’s quite an opportunity to reflect.

I’ve told my story before and shared what initially led me to make the choice to stop drinking alcohol entirely. But as I continue to reflect on the last year, I see now that my choice to quit drinking involves so much more than just that one summer day, when my husband and I were out on the lake on our boat with our daughters and our friends, and I fell down the stairs of our boat, completely wasted, in front of my daughters (who were 7 and 9).

The Event scared me. I woke up the next morning, piecing together what happened the day before, my mouth completely parched and my right hip/thigh area sore from where I hit when I fell. There was a huge bruise. And then the guilt and shame hit me.

I now realize that The Event, as scary, embarrassing and shameful as it was, was a huge gift from the universe. It was a hard slap in the face, a neon sign with flashing lights. It was a soul hit. A big message that screamed, “Hey, wake up! You’re not living the life you’re capable of living, or the life you really want to live!”

And you know what? I’m grateful for that day. For the bruise that was on my thigh for almost a month. For the wake up call that I received that day. For the opportunity to start living the life I was meant to live.

Because I was actually living a life that was anything but what I know I’m capable of. I was numbing out and blocking the calls of my soul, the calls of my source (God). I was choosing the easy way — numbing out the discomfort, the stress, and the pressure of life. I was hiding from my lack of self awareness and self love.

And here’s what I’ve learned so far.

THE 5 GREATEST LESSONS A YEAR OF SOBRIETY HAS TAUGHT ME

1. When you feel like something is impossible, the only choice is surrender.

And surrender I did. I woke up that next morning after The Event, and got on my knees to pray. I said, “I hear you and I know you’re telling me it’s time to stop this and to wake up. I know it has to be all or nothing for me. And I have no idea how I’ll do this, how I’ll give up alcohol entirely since it’s such a huge part of my lifestyle and so many of my relationships. But I know it’s what I’m being called to do. If you’ll show me how, I’ll trust you. I am surrendering this all to you.”

And I continued to surrender, every single day going forward. I’m still surrendering today. I completely gave up trying to control the situation, trying to modify my drinking. I had put “drinking rules” on myself so many times in the past, and I continued to fail at them. Only two glasses of wine tonight and that’s it…I’ll have a glass of water between every drink to slow me down…I’m only drinking on Friday and Saturday this week and no more…None of it worked. Moderation isn’t for me and I know that, I’ve always known it. But I was trying to control a situation I had no control of, instead of surrendering it over to God.

When I let go of it all and finally began to trust that God would show me how I was going to do this, it all started to fall into place. I took it one day at a time, and I stayed on my knees in surrender. I’m still on my knees.

 

2. Meditation and prayer are my lifeline.

Before The Event, I already had somewhat of a meditation practice. But after that day, I began to meditate every single day, without fail, and often multiple times a day. I prayed all day, every day. I spent more time alone in those first few weeks and months than I have maybe ever. I listened to my soul, which is where my connection to my source (God) lies. I trusted that connection, those intuitive hits, more than I ever had before. If I got an idea about something, I journaled about it. If I felt a moment of weakness, I went inward, went into meditation and prayer. If I felt tired, I rested. If I felt hungry, I ate nourishing foods (and a lot of dark chocolate).

I believe that prayer is asking Source for the guidance that we need, and expressing gratitude for what we do receive. Meditation is the quiet stillness that allows us to hear the guidance that we’ve asked for. Both are equally as important to me, and I often go back and forth between prayer and meditation during my times of quiet stillness.

This is truly the only time in my day that I’m able to tune into my soul, and lose all the other voices that tend to come into my head during a day. Those other voices aren’t real, they aren’t mine and they aren’t my truth. They are society’s voices, they are the belief systems that I was raised with that aren’t necessarily mine, they are the voices of guilt and perfection that tell me I need to do this as a mom, and that I should look this way as a woman. They aren’t mine.

But the voice that I hear when I’m in meditation and prayer, that’s the One. That’s God. That’s my higher self. That’s truth.

 

3. I am my own guru.

No one, and I mean no one has the answers to another person’s life questions. The answers are always found within us, in our soul, which is where our connection with our higher power is.

Over the last year, I’ve learned that when I have a question about anything, instead of asking another person (not even my amazing husband, not even my beautiful mom…love you both, if you’re reading this!), the first thing I do now is go into meditation. I pray and ask for the guidance I’m looking for, then I sit quietly, breathing, and wait for it to come. It doesn’t always come right away, but it always comes.

And I’ve learned to follow that guidance, which I now refer to as a “soul hit”. Soul hits are our higher power connecting with our higher selves, and they are meant to be the guidance systems in our lives. Feel the urge to call an old friend? Do it now. Feeling worn down and overworked? Take a day to rest. When we learn to follow the hits from our souls, and trust that we are our own gurus and the answers are within, never without, life opens up in a beautiful way that’s hard to explain. But trust me, it’s better.

 

4. Everything begins in awareness.

Before The Event, I was living largely unaware. And I was unaware that I was unaware.

I was unaware that I was ignoring my soul and those “hits” from my higher power. I was unaware that alcohol was, for me, a way to zone out from pressure. I was unaware of the kind of example I was setting for my daughters, which was when life gets tough and you feel the pressure, there’s always a nice bottle of rosé that can make it all go away (albeit short term). I was unaware that I was teaching them that the answers to life’s tough situations are outside of themselves, in a bottle of wine, or in another person, or in buying things, etc. But it was because I wasn’t aware yet that the answers to life’s tough situations are always inside of us.

My awareness has increased over the last year with my commitment to daily meditation. I know myself better than I ever have before. I know what triggers me to feel anxious or irritable, and I’ve become more aware of my emotions. It’s incredibly helpful to know what emotion we are feeling in any given moment, before we decide the course of action and what will be the best thing to do next. Often, for me, what triggers uncomfortable emotions in me is when I’m tired, if I haven’t rested well or if I’ve let my self care slip. Or, as an introvert, it could be that I haven’t spent enough time alone to recharge my battery. Whatever it is, it’s incredibly helpful to start with becoming aware of what we are feeling, and what the root of the feeling is. Then we can take action from that awareness.

 

5. My emotions and feelings are meant to be used as my guidance system.

Once we learn to become aware of how we are feeling and what’s going on in our soul, we can learn to take action and live our lives using our emotions as our guidance system.

For example, in going inward more over the last year, in getting to know myself and listening intently to my soul, I’ve realized that I have a bit of social anxiety. And I know now that I often overused alcohol to help me feel more comfortable in social situations that I really didn’t want to be in in the first place.

Now, if there is a social situation that I don’t want to be in, I just don’t go. Or, if it’s something I must attend, I’ll just stay the minimum amount of time, and excuse myself whenever it’s appropriate. Again, it’s learning to live my life from my soul. So many times in my past I’ve stayed in a situation that meant nothing to me, with people I had nothing in common with, drinking beverages that weren’t doing my body any favors and made me feel worse.

And I finally see that that makes absolutely no sense, so I gave myself permission to no longer do it. And to me, not forcing yourself into unfulfilling situations is just one example of following a soul hit.

When we shut down all the other voices and go inward more often, we are able to really tune into what our hearts are communicating to us. And living from that awareness and that connectedness to ourselves is when we can really open up and live a life that’s true and authentic and in alignment with who we really are.


 

Now that my focus is off alcohol and numbing myself to the pressures of daily life, my focus is more on myself, my self care, and the way I love and treat myself — mind, body and soul — on a daily basis.

I spend more time in quiet. I meditate and pray. I take more baths. I move my body in a way that feels good to me. I eat the foods that nourish my body. I go to bed early enough to get a good night of restorative sleep. I do more things that feel good to me, like walking barefoot in the grass, listening to the songs of the birds, reading a good book, or watching a movie with my daughters.

I’ve slowed down. My life doesn’t feel as hectic and fast paced as it once did. I feel calmer, more fulfilled, and more grateful even for just the simplest things. I’m showing up as a better version of me for the people I love. They can feel the shift, but more importantly, I can feel the shift.

And I really, really like what I’m feeling.

Do I think that sobriety is the path for every single person? I don’t. I truly don’t believe that everyone has the same issues with alcohol. But it might be something else that we use to numb our uncomfortable emotions and to deal with life.

Remember, everything begins in awareness. And the only way to become aware of what’s driving our behaviors, is to take time to tune in, to sit in silence, and to listen to what’s going on internally. Remember that you are your own guru.

14 Comments

  1. Wow…Elizabeth…I rarely, if ever, comment on any blog I follow. This truly is inspirational. So well written and honest. So very happy for you.
    Many many blessing to you and your family, now and in the future.
    Jen

  2. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. You are such wonderful soul!

  3. I feel inspired reading this…I have seen another post from you regarding sobriety. And I have seen an interview you did with Breezy regarding same…I need to stop drinking as well…I don’t think I can control or modify my drinking with 2 glasses a night or water in between. I will turn 50 in December and I want to feel really good when I do…

  4. Thank you for sharing your beautiful perspective and your openness to all and encouraging strength. You are beautiful inside and out, a wonderful mom, an example to others for the positive possibilities of life without alcohol. So glad our paths crossed and keep shining❣️

  5. This was beautiful. That you for sharing your story. I have so many friends and people in the LR community that respect and love you! We have never met but i have always respected you in our community. My drinking problem has caused me so much pain for too many years to count… and I love hearing stories like yours. Thanks again

  6. This was beautiful. That you for sharing your story. I have so many friends and people in the LR community that respect and love you! We have never met but i have always respected you in our community. Thank you again!

  7. So incredibly proud and honored to call you friend and soul sister!

  8. This post is my favorite of all your posts. So proud of you and happy youve discovered these truths. I have a similar story with alcohol. Gods answer to me was for alcohol to start making me feel physically sick so i cant even drink if i wanted to. Ive never felt better! You are a beautiful soul and Gods gift to the world. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us, we all are truly blessed because of you sister.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think I will be reading this many more times in the future to keep me inspired to stay on my plan of a better me. I think I, my husband, and my family deserve the best version of me that I can provide

  10. Thankyou Elizabeth. Thst was amazingly well wrote. Your words touched my soul.

  11. Love this love you!

  12. Love this. It is my story too

  13. An extremely inspiring piece- I’ve reread your article 3 times this morning- wishing you health and happiness on your journey- love the term soul hit-thank you for sharing

  14. Thank you for sharing, it’s reached me at a time in my life that they touched my soul. This was a blessing to run across

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