1. I have learned to “be with” my own thoughts.
One of the first things I noticed when I started pouring my words into my blog, was that I had time to sit there and reflect upon what I had just wrote. There was this nice pause that happened where I could think about how whatever I was writing about really resonated within my body. I physically felt where these words affected me and could acknowledge how strongly they pulled at me. It has allowed me to be with a lot of feelings that in other situations I would be unlikely to share with anyone else. I realized very quickly in my recovery that fear was an underlying issue of mine and I had read that in order to accept and conquer my fear, I needed to “be with” it, and even be tender with it. At first, this concept was very disconcerting, as of course my initial instinct is to run far, far away from anything that makes me feel uncomfortable. That was the main reason I started drinking in the first place. When I drank, I did not have to feel my fear or any other bad feelings. So to “be with” any feeling, especially fear, was difficult to say the least. But the more I write, the more I think, the more I feel and the more I just sit with my own thoughts… the easier it gets, and the more I heal. Quitting drinking is really only the first step to sobriety. Finding myself and being with my thoughts is really where the healing is.
2. I am able to speak my truth.
Who is Cristina? I will be completely honest with you… I am still figuring this out. But what I do know is that when I sit down and write from the heart, it is the purest, most genuine form of myself that you will ever get. There is not too much editing that occurs. The hugest difference between reading my blog and speaking to me in person is that when I write, I am not self-conscious. When I have my laptop open and my heart is ready to start speaking, I literally do not think about who is going to read this, how someone is going to react to my thoughts or if I will be judged in any way. I just literally write truthfully, openly and as much to the point as I possibly can about whatever is tugging at my heart at the moment. Being a recovering perfectionist, I have to admit I was terrified at first to start this blog. I was afraid of every grammar issue, not writing long enough or poignant enough posts, not posting on time or regularly enough, and really, just generally terrified of being judged by people who would come across my blog that knew the old Cristina. But being able to speak my truth in my blog gives me practice to be able to do it in real life.
3. My accountability stays in check.
Accountability is defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. Going to meetings and being a part of new groups both online and in person definitely holds me accountable for my actions. But my blog just takes it one step further. The main reason I started my blog is to share my story so that others would know they do not need to be full of shame through recovery. I need to constantly remind myself that I am not here just sharing my story, I am here to be accountable for my actions in the world. I wrote not too long ago about how I truly feel that volunteering and helping others is my purpose in this world. So making time every week to write about my thoughts and what I have been through is not just to get it off my chest and share it so others do not feel alone in their recovery. It is a way for me to process my life choices and actions to myself and others. It is a way for me to make sure that my spirituality is continuously growing and guiding me down the right path. It is a way for me to remember that I also am not alone and that I have resources and people that care about me staying on my path of recovery just as much as I do. One of my favorite phrases you will see me hashtag constantly is “Together We Can.” Yes, this is my blog, my story… but I am personally, spiritually and socially accountable for my actions by utilizing it and by being willing to be truthful openly, and not just in the confines of my own head.
4. I understand reality better.
Hiding from myself, dealing with depression and anxiety by drinking and pushing away my true moral and spiritual feelings is what I did for a good two decades. I lived inside my own twisted reality. I talked down to myself, worse than anyone has ever treated me. I never shared my darkest fears or guilt or shame because surely no one would understand. And of course I pushed away religion and any relationship with a higher power because there was no way my thoughts and actions could be forgiven. Sobriety has handed me the key to my own dungeon that I trapped myself in. I am slowly emerging from chaotic thoughts and false truths and crawling my way into the light of reality. I have also come to realize that I do not have to explain myself to people. Here is why: “People only understand from their own level of perception.” If they have not gone through it, or do not have an open enough mind or heart, no amount of explaining is going to help them understand it. Explanations are being reserved for my therapist’s office where I can understand my old patterns in order to change them. Reality is being mindful. Being mindful is being present. Being present is being grateful. And being grateful is really the only reality I want to be a part of.
5. The connections I make now with people are real and honest.
I have complete “strangers” (aka people I have met through social media and the sobriety circle) tell me they love me, that they are proud of me, that I am amazing and that what I am doing is awesome. And not only do I believe them, but I believe in myself more each time I hear it. The people I have met and shared stories with, whether online or in meetings, have been some of the most touching moments in my life. I just turned 39 last week and in the 11 months of my sobriety, I have known and been shown more instances of unconditional, non-judgmental love than the preceding 38 years combined. It’s truly an emotional road that we travel in recovery. But I have learned that emotional does not have to be a negative term. There are so many wonderful and amazing emotions within myself that I have hidden for so long, and when I have the opportunity to share and make real connections with people, it just brings me closer to the truest, most honest version of myself… The person who I have always wanted to be but have been too afraid to be.