Jennifer Hardy, CMPS, Peer Support Coordinator
As I sit here in my backyard, I think about how different things are now from my life before. This thought doesn't get old to me because it is so vastly different.
A typical "good" weekend for me before looked like this: Get off of work as early as possible on a Friday and stop on the way home and grab a 5th of flavored vodka. Meet my partner at home and begin having shots, talking about where we were gonna go. If I was lucky, and we didn't get in too bad of an alcohol-induced fight beforehand, we would go out together and find a place to karaoke or dance. If I was really really lucky, I might get to sing a couple songs that I could remember. Inevitably, at some point in the evening, we would have to fend off one or more men trying to take one or the both of us home. We would have to try to explain our relationship to him, though he rarely understood. Eventually, we would find our way home. This was typically the time my blackouts occurred - either shortly before or shortly after making it home from this "awesome" night out. Waking up the next morning was a blur, usually spent in search of another shot of liquor to calm the shakes, as well as the pieces of the happenings of the evening before. Oftentimes, my partner and I had been in some sort of a "fight" with each other that we couldn't quite remember. We would try to laugh it off and go on about our day. This rest of the weekend usually consisted of laying around the house watching tv and eating and, of course, continuing to drink. If we had anywhere we had to be, we would try to get some rest and then make sure we took enough liquor with us to sneak and drink that would last us through the time we had to be there. Sometimes, we would go out again on a Sunday afternoon, to a friend's house for bbq. There just never seemed to be anyone eating food and it was always dark before we knew it, with Monday looming over us and the panic of knowing we would eventually have to "slow the roll" if we were going to be able to function for work.
Now: A typical good weekend now is full of appreciation for all of the simplicities of life and nature and day-to-day living. I still may get off as early as I can on a Friday afternoon, but it's to rush home to my family and begin our weekend together. A typical Friday night means make-your-own-tacos and a movie all piled on the big family couch together. Saturday means a day trip to a beautiful hiking place or a visit and dinner with one of our parents. If there is somewhere we have to be, we are prepared for it and look forward to it and don't have to count down the minutes to our next drink. We often have like-minded people over and gather in our home or our backyard to laugh and talk about how great life is today. We encourage one another. And, amazingly, the people we hang out with today respect our relationship and totally understand it. We don't have to spend any time or energy fighting for that. If there is a disagreement between my partner and I today, it may end in us walking away for a minute to process what is going on, but it never ends in a fist fight and we always remember it so we can put the work in to really fix it. Strange enough, we don't find as much to argue about when we work toward the same good values of honesty, loyalty and trust.
I will never claim that life is perfect now or that life was always miserable then, but I do know THIS: the peace and calm, the appreciation for the little moments, the amazing relationships with others and my Higher Power and even myself, are things I would not trade for anything in the world.
I am beyond grateful for this complete way of life today. It is in this frame of mind I pray I remain. I once heard a wise man say, "An alcoholic cannot be grateful for recovery and drink at the same time." Gratitude for all of these simple and and amazing gifts of recovery is what I daily strive for now.