Celebrating Your Milestones
A milestone can be defined as a process, distinct step, or development in a person’s journey through life. I take extreme pride in celebrating each milestone in my life. I am thankful that I am able to acknowledge a sense of pride in myself when each new goal is accomplished. That is not an easy task to do when you are an addict.
While I was in active addiction, some of my goals were to make it to work while nursing a hangover and hoping that no one could still smell the alcohol oozing through the pores of my body. Another goal was to try not to nod off at work, to hide the trembling in my hands while watching the clock tick ever so slowly to quitting time, all while imagining the relief of taking that first drink and drug that was still so far out of reach.
The days in active addiction never change– you wake up the next morning and try to go through the same insane steps you did the day before. For most of the past twenty years of my life, that cycle was my daily routine. You can also add the lying, scheming, scamming, isolating, and self-loathing on top of that and it all adds up to one pretty miserable addict. You may ask yourself, “Why would someone live like that?” Addicts in active addiction do not really have a choice unless they surrender to the disease and commit to the solution of recovery.
Thankfully, my life has changed since I became sober. I remember someone told me in treatment that I did not have to live that way ever again. Who would have thought? I did not think it was possible. I just thought it was just me, my personality, my genetic make-up, my lot in life.
I thought I was having fun when it started. Each passing year, the need for more was compounded by that feeling of emptiness inside. But by the end, I just couldn’t get high enough and I couldn’t get buzzed enough before I would usually pass out and wake up to another day of repeating that same insane behavior.
That is why I celebrate my milestones. Honestly, I have never had so many goals accomplished before I have got sober. As an addict, there are no golden awards waiting for you at the end of a finish line. I accepted my position in life and took what came my way and thought that that was the way life was supposed to be. In sobriety, I have found out that if you want more in life you have to act on it and grab the reigns and go.
When I got out of treatment and completed six more months of outpatient, I was unemployed and financially strapped. I had not been that way since college. I had been a teacher for 21 years and was not sure if I wanted to go back into the classroom sober. I had never taught without a hangover and totally sober before.
I applied for teaching jobs and within a month I was hired in my old district. My first year back at teaching was heaven. I had a great classroom and completed that first year back clean and sober. I found out that I was really good at what I did. I was organized and there for my students every single day. It was a phenomenal first year.
The beginning of my second year was full of changes. I was asked to teach in a different capacity that was way out of my comfort zone. I prayed for guidance and direction but as November came to a close, I was miserable. So I decided to change it and applied for other jobs. The irony of this, is that the “old” Bo would have just accepted a life in misery. But the “new sober” Bo did not accept misery anymore in his life– he changed it. By Christmas, I was offered a new position that has been a true blessing. I am working in a more positive environment with exceptional professionals. It was a major pivotal milestone in my life. Taking charge of my life and having the confidence to make changes in my life for the better was a huge step for me. It just goes to show that if you don’t like your scenery, change your view!
Another way that I celebrate my milestones is by acknowledging each thirty days I obtain in sobriety. When I first came to a twelve-step group, I couldn’t wait to get my thirty-day chip. I wasn’t happy with that dinky silver chip. I carried each chip I received every day until I received the next one. All the color on most of the chips were rubbed away by the end of the monthly period. I sat in meetings and saw people get 1, 5, even 20 year chips and was in awe of them and their accomplishments. To this day, I carry my current chip in my pocket and hold it tight when things are rough or I bring it out and look at it when I need strength.
In recovery, I have found that the people that know you are sober never really ask you how you are doing or if you are still not drinking. Maybe it is an uneasy question for them to ask or maybe they are afraid of what they will hear or if it will offend you. When I got sober, I was proud and happy. I wanted everyone to know. I wanted them to know that I was not this mean sarcastic crazy person with an alternating mood that can go from nice and gentle to mean and manic in 2.5 seconds. So, ever since I returned from treatment, I have shared my milestones with my friends on social media. It is for those people that I do not see daily or for those who are just too scared to ask in person to let them know that I am still fighting the fight.
Since I have started doing this, I have had other friends that were not as open about their recovery share on social media. It warms my heart to see them do this. I also receive messages from friends that I have thought I would never hear from about their experiences with a family member, friend, or spouse that is fighting addiction. It has been a great way to celebrate my milestone and help break the stigma of addition.
The last way I celebrate milestones is my work as a lead advocate for Heroes in Recovery. The writing of my monthly blog was not as easy as I thought it would be when I started in 2015. Sometimes we are given topics and other times we are just encouraged to write about things that we have experienced or things that are currently happening in our lives that may be related to addiction and mental health issues.
I have received messages from people all over the world that have questions or just thank me or support me in my writings. We also work and support our Heroes in Recovery 6K races to meet others and gather stories of those that are fighting the battle. It has been a challenge for me because I am not the type of person to go up to a stranger and start a conversation. Despite that, I am putting myself out there and giving it my best. That has been a major milestone for me. So remember to celebrate your milestones every day no matter how big or how small. Every milestone counts when you are fighting the struggles of addiction!
If you would like to share your story with Heroes in Recovery, there are two ways you can do it. You can hit the share button on the home page or contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you share your story you are inspiring others to help break the stigma associated with addiction and mental health issues.