Living With Anxiety

Most people who meet me wouldn’t guess I live with anxiety.

Like anyone else, I have to take special care of my mental health, my highs and lows, and my sobriety.

Just because I put down the drink doesn’t mean everything will magically be sunshine and butterflies.  No, drinking was a solution to my crippling fear of what other people thought of me, my insecurities, and my stress.  Alcohol became much more of a hazard than a solution as the years went on, so I was faced with no choice than to put it down.

People who don’t know me wouldn’t suspect I’m an alcoholic, either.  But as I hit 30, I was no longer able to drink casually or control the things I did or said.  It stopped being fun, and started making my highs and lows much worse.

Being home in Michigan has triggered those old feelings of anxiety, worries, and fear.  Although I’m surrounded by love, there are still people in my life who just don’t get it.

They may think I’m pining away for a drink, but in reality, I’m so grateful to be sober.  That doesn’t change the fact that I still have those teenage girl feelings from time to time- very real feelings of anxiety.  It isn’t something I can control, which is why I started to meditate daily, take a lot of walks, and spend time in nature every single day.  Spending time alone is crucial to balance in my life, which can be hard when I am back in the place I grew up.

When things are going well or life is mellow, I seem to forget about the anxiety.  I forget how painful it can be, and how I feel I let people down if I’m not doing what “they” want or expect of me.  However, living in NYC and Boston for five years taught me to set boundaries, love myself as I am, and to not let expectations rule my life.

I am what I am.

Sometimes simply a missed call or text message (which, of course, I feel obligated to respond to immediately) will get my heart racing and will send me into worst case scenario mode.  I worry what people are thinking, whether or not they’re mad at me, or if I said the right thing if they need support or advice.  I have to remember that even though I try to help others, I first need to take care of myself.

If you don’t fill your own cup of wellness, how can you offer anything to others?

I may put on my sunglasses and a smile, but I have hard days, too.  Sometimes I want to spend all day in bed, ignore my phone, and be alone.  On others, I am go-go-go, social, and energetic.  Life is all about balance- and self care.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can own the story that is yours.

Step Into The Daylight and Let It Go

My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in

Everyone looked worse in the light

There are so many lines that I’ve crossed, unforgiven

I’ll tell you truth, but never, “Goodbye”

It’s strange how you can think about someone every day for half a decade, and then one morning… it stops.

He stops appearing in your dreams and haunting you in your nightmares.

You stop daydreaming about him being someone he is not, never was, and never will be.

Your nights are peaceful and your days are full of light.

You come to realize you deserve much more; more than he was ever willing to give.

You finally love right where you are, who you have become, and the future ahead of you. No longer dwelling on the past, you’re open to whatever is in store tomorrow.

On this particular morning, I’ve let go of the darkness and am ready to step into the daylight.

No One Can Define My Sobriety (Or Life) But Me

It’s no surprise to most people when I tell them I don’t drink.

Whether they’ve seen me out of control in the past or have read my articles, I am finally open about being sober these days- and that’s a breath of fresh air.

I’ve made mistakes, though.

There have been many relapses (or “slips,” as some may say) since deciding to get sober in 2011, including a full two and a half years where I went back to drinking consistently.  I damaged relationships and racked up many, many new stories during that period of time, yet I learned a lot about myself- and what I do and don’t want out of life.

I went back to drinking several times while living in Boston, racked up even more stories, and learned that a structured recovery program gives me more anxiety than it does comfort and strength.  Although community helps many people, I am more of a one-on-one type of person.  I believe in therapy, working on yourself, and taking responsibility for your actions.

This may be controversial, but this is my truth:

I don’t want or need entities or other people to determine the quality of my sobriety.

I’m the only one who has to determine what is best for my life- and I want people to judge who I am based on my character, not my sobriety date.

I have a serious issue with groups who judge or push others to open up about things to they don’t want to.  There is no “one size fits all” method for anything in life, and putting down the booze is no different.  I have put so much pressure on myself over the years and have had immense anxiety about what other people think of me- but I am done with that.  

I’m honest with my family, good friends, and even strangers online- and that works for me.

There are several friends of mine who aren’t “in recovery” who have told me the same thing- that I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. “You don’t drink now,” two of them said. “That’s all you need to say.”

Below is something my friend of 22 years texted me yesterday:

Amen.

It’s also no one else’s business if I am on a prescription, if someone has Medical Assisted Treatment, or what “date” someone put down the drink.

It’s my life, not theirs.

People have the option to do what works for them.  For me, it’s connecting with people who are healthy and aligned with my spirit.  It’s nature, writing, and self discovery.  It’s mediation and mindfulness.  It’s been open and honest about who I am and what I stand for.  It’s living in my truth, and living a spiritual life of reflection and growth.

I hope my own journey can inspire someone who go on their own journey, no matter what way it may lead.

Never let anyone make you feel bad about choosing your path- you know what’s in your heart and in your soul.

Listen to the Birds

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“Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the birds.”

Our minds race each and every day.  That problem I had last week?  I’ve already forgotten about it.  The worries I have today?  They’re going to be resolved effortlessly.

Our higher power speaks through other people, but sometimes our egos don’t stop and listen.  Meditation is a huge part of my daily life, but I often forget to ask for help.  Sitting by myself has its purpose, but connection with people is equally important.

Since being home, I have had an amazing time reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.  I’m so grateful to have realized I am loved, cared about, and can give my love back to them in return.

This is a whole new chapter, and I choose to listen to the birds, not the thunder in my mind.