“NEW BEGINNINGS ARE OFTEN DESCRIBED AS PAINFUL ENDINGS” – LAO TZU
August 13th – This was not only my earthly birthday, but it’s my re-birthday.
What’s my re-birthday? It’s the day I decided to live alcohol-free.
I have double reason to celebrate, so I shall.
I can hardly believe I’ve made it to this milestone of nine years alcohol-free. I remember nine years ago on that day, I was utterly lost, frightened, and all alone and had no idea what the next 24 hours had in store, let alone the next nine years. While I continue to walk forward towards a new season, it’s clear parts of the old me are dead and gone.
A little back story, I started drinking at twelve years old. I grew up in a small town in Iowa and was introduced to alcohol very young. Twenty-seven years after that introduction, on August 13, 2012, I was finally at a place where I decided alcohol was no longer for me.
Twenty-seven years is a long time.
I would be confronted with many life-altering situations; however, the need to keep alcohol close by was constant. I remember the days where I didn’t think I could survive without alcohol. And in my mind, I couldn’t, so I didn’t. It was my best friend and my confidant. It was always there for me and created a bridge I happily crossed every time I consumed alcohol. My reality was too much and too hard to process.
Alcohol created many fun memories and vibes, and it also made a lot of traumatic ones. The traumatic ones caused lifelong altercations on how I view the world and also myself.
When I walked away from alcohol
August 13, 2012 – I had no idea it would cost me damn near all my friends, but it did. I walked anyway. I went from an extensive group of people I hung out with to literally less than five.
What was I going to do with my time now?
What person would I become?
What hobbies did I have that didn’t involve alcohol?
WHO WAS I?
The truth is, I had no effing clue. Alcohol was the center of my life for my entire life. I stepped into a new space and a scary one. They say when you drop addictions, you have to replace them with other healthy things. I started going to church regularly, and the next thing you know, church friends, church activities, and church serving took up all the space I used to use partying. Then, Although I have different views on the church now, it did step in and create a bridge I needed to get to where I am today, and because of that, I am thankful.
When you remove the center of your world, the walls come crashing in and you have to pick yourself back up and rebuild yourself and your life. It was like I died that day when I stopped drinking alcohol, and every day for the last 9 years I’ve been rediscovering who I am without alcohol, slowly coming back to life again. It’s like a brand new baby being born but for me I was re-born.
Not the giving my life to Christ reborn, as that ship has already sailed and sank. I’m talking about every fiber of my being being transformed into a new me, not what other people told me to be or what my environment influenced me to be. Between beliefs, conditioning, and experiences I had to break out of the old and step into the new.
“You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces, differently.” – unknown
This quote fits perfectly.
Over the last nine years, my life has progressed to great lengths and many times I’ve had to look myself in the mirror and I’m finally at peace with what’s looking back at me but not without a lot of blood. sweat and tears FIRST. I’ve had to get alone with myself to find myself. I’ve been single the majority of the last nine years, and even when I have been in brief relationships or been in the dating world, I continue to find myself learning more about the new person I have become. Hardships help us grow, and so do those we have around us inside our inner circles. Even with heartbreak, I’ve learned lessons that are of great value to me.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli
I’ve loved, and I’ve lost, and I’ve been betrayed and hurt. The kicker is that now I’ve learned that processing difficult emotions and feelings isn’t something I need to run from. Drinking alcohol every day for 27 years, I was clearly running from processing pain. I couldn’t sit with my sober self and alcohol was the great escape. This is one of the most significant dynamics of my career with drinking alcohol. I didn’t know how or want to feel those feelings of abandonment from my birth parents and the trauma I experienced in my adoptive homes. When I stopped drinking, all my adoptee problems showed up at my front door, and I was forced to sit with them, and I’ve been sitting with them for nine years now. It’s been painful but humbling at the same time. Crying and showing emotions is like the dried up well is living again. Finally, I can look at myself in the mirror and know I am not going to die like my birth parents, and I have done the work on myself to turn the page to live a happier and healthier life.
Not just for myself, but my kids and future grandkids and my legacy.
I have always had a tough time with my birthday, but this year was different. Things seemed lighter and happier. I decided I wouldn’t wait for anyone to celebrate me because I had enough reasons to celebrate me. Waiting on others leads to disappointment. I have learned that I need to put my happiness into my own hands. I had a brief moment of sadness, which I feel was part of my processing the realities of the day I was born. My birth mother left me at the hospital, and I lost everything that day. Being adopted is always a hard pill to swallow. I had challenged myself in recent years to allow space for those feelings and process them and save room to enjoy my day because even when my biological mother abandoned me that day, one badass woman was born.
Here’s an article on How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays if anyone is interested. It’s not just me; it’s many adoptees who struggle with our birthdays.
I’ve been stuck in the dark sadness long enough. I’ve paid the price and done the time. I’ve put in the work to overcome the damage adoption has caused and lived a sober life doing it. THIS IS A MIRACLE! I will be working towards healing for the rest of my life; however, it’s critically important that we equally carve out space to enjoy our lives. We must find the balance not to let our adoption journeys dominate our lives. I’m guilty of doing this for the last 11 years, but today is a new day.
This year, my gift to myself is to step away from almost all things adoption-related and step into a new life that I should have been living many years ago before the adoption trauma and alcohol tornado took over and consumed every fiber of my being. I think as adopted people; we owe that to ourselves. When we remove something unhealthy from our lives, we have to replace it with something healthy. My career with alcohol was unhealthy for me, not to mention what 27 years of consuming alcohol has done to my body. Adoptionland hasn’t been a healthy place for me either, for the majority of my time being present in the adoptee community. I stepped away from most of it long ago, however I still have areas I’m stepping away from in attempts to make my load lighter and my life happier.
This year, I had my birthday month all planned out for myself to bypass the familiar disappointment I get from outside sources. I also had a sweet friend tell me that I needed to celebrate my birthday month, not just the day. So while I didn’t exactly celebrate the whole month, I did celebrate a few weeks.
The weekend before my birthday, I met with one of my forever friends, Christi. I took her on an adventure to Pine Island Double Falls, located in London, KY. We had a blast and enjoyed spending the day running wild, as we youngins love to do.
The following week before my birthday, my youngest daughter accompanied me on a mini-photo shoot at one of my favorite parks in Lexington, not far from my house. The purpose was to celebrate my 9-year milestone of living alcohol-free with my MOTHER, AKA Mother Nature. I had a nine balloon, and my daughter took some lovely photos to capture this celebration beautifully.
August 13, my actual birthday and re-birthday, I decided to take a mini road trip with my kids to Joe’s Crabshack to get some Dungeness Crab BBQ, one of my favorites! All I wanted was a little time in the presence of those I adore the most and who mean the most to me. My kids! It was a surreal experience because as I walked into Joe’s Crabshack with my kids, I realized the last time we had been there together was nine years earlier, TO THE DAY. The last day I drank alcohol on August 13, 2012. I wanted my birthday dinner to be at Joe’s Crabshack in Louisville. While this fact dawned on me, I couldn’t help but reminisce about where I was nine years ago and where I am today. WOW, at the difference nine years makes. We ate a lovely meal, went outside to take some pictures of the sunset of the river, and had a precious time together. Then, we drove back to Lexington to have cake together, my favorite pistachio from Martine’s Bakery here in Lexington. It was a perfect day to remember, with those who make my world go around.
The following day, I decided to run off into the wild on a self-care solo trip to Tennessee to Cummins Falls State Park. This was an adventure to remember, and I must do it again and stay a weekend to explore the area more. There were two waterfalls I made it to, Cummins Falls and Waterloo Falls. Being able to be solo and hike this gorge was an excellent experience. But, sometimes, we have to take off and go live life.
The following week on August 20, I flew to Salt Lake City to visit my best friend. It was the first time seeing her in almost three years. You can learn more about that visit by reading my article “Learning to Live and Hike with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)” We had a super time together, and it was fantastic to have my first hot springs visit with her, despite the SVT. It was also exciting catching up with another friend, seeing my best friends cute little family, and spending time with them.
Here are some photos I would love to share with you!
The changes I’ve made in the last few months have resulted in a lighter feeling with life in general, and I’m optimistic about the future and the path I have set for myself.
Little by little, letting go of the unnecessary things makes room for the things that matter. I don’t want to waste more time on things that set me back and keep me stuck. I will write about that more soon.
Special thank you to everyone who made my birthday special and to those who donated to my birthday fundraiser, sent me texts, called me, mailed gifts, and made my day one to remember. Special shout out to my close friends, family, and supporters near and far. I appreciate you all! Thank you! I love you!