The Freedom And Happiness Of A Sober Life

AA promises series.pngToday, I celebrate eight years sober and clean. It still amazes me that it has been that long. I remember, in my first few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, feeling a rising panic at the thought of a day without alcohol, never mind eight years. I also remember being scared of what my life would become, thinking that a life without alcohol would be dull.

This memory makes me smile now, for two reasons. The first reason is that my life back then was already dull. I was a physical and mental wreck, spending my days smoking weed, knocking back lager, and obsessing about running short of either of the two. Hardly a fulfilling life but rather a painful and depressing one. The second is because my life in sobriety is anything but dull. In these last eight years, I have explored and experienced more of myself and my life than I had in the 37 years previous.

Alcoholism is a cunning jailer; it convinced me that life outside its walls would be a life not worth living. It was not until I began to escape its clutches that I realized how captive I had been. The freedom I feel, in every aspect of my life, is the cornerstone of my happiness.

I am at such an exciting place in my life right now. Lots of things are coming to fruition all at once. I am at the end of the medical part of my gender transition. I have made sense of my sexuality and am in a committed relationship with a gorgeous man. I am at the start of launching a freelance writing career, and I have just had my first piece published. I have recently enrolled in my final module with the Open University, and this time next year I will be the proud owner of a degree. I have also been doing some media work with the Open University, as a student ambassador.

All of these things are anything but dull and only possible because I am sober. There is no way the drunk me could have had the enthusiasm or the ability to set up a small business, and  I would most certainly not have been asked to be an ambassador!

Recovery has given me the freedom to be me. It has given the freedom to pursue my dreams and the freedom to forgive myself and allow myself to love and be loved. The new happiness which comes from this freedom takes my breath away every single day. I am free now, one day at a time to live the exciting life that alcoholism hid from me for so many years.

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Be Your Fabulous Self – Day 104-106 of #365daysofselfcare 

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is being true to who you are despite the judgments of others

PicsArt_08-15-10.17.32
The most radical act of self-care is to give yourself permission to be yourself.

The last few days I’ve been reflecting on just how wonderfully free it feels to be me, even though a large part of society is not particularly happy with who l am.

It’s a strange paradox. Before l came out as trans, l couldn’t handle the judgments of others, l was an anxious people pleaser, and this was one of the hurdles to coming out. I was so scared of being rejected by everyone.

As I have progressed through my transition and become more comfortable in my skin, I have begun to care less and less about what other people think of me.

Surprisingly, this isn’t because my transition has made me blend more into society. It could have done, and I was most certainly expecting it to be one of the benefits. However, what has happened as I have become more comfortable, is that I have developed into a chap with a very flamboyant personality who enjoys wearing pink, wearing earrings, and generally being and doing many things that society says men shouldn’t be or do. I’ve also now come out as gay, which adds an extra layer of difference into the diversity sandwich.

This freedom to be me now permeates every aspect of my life, and it continues to be one of the most powerful daily self-care tools in my wellness toolkit.

Freelance Writing – My First Published Story

 

First published storyIts been a while since I updated about my professional writing progress and as you can see by the title of this blog post, I have some rather fantastic news to share!

Firstly, let’s start with a catch up of what has been happening since I made the brave move to declare myself to be a writer, and took the first steps into a freelance writing career a few months ago.

Inspired by Jeff Goins’, “You are a writer, so start acting like one,” I set myself two commitments as my starting point. The first was to write every single day, whether that was a few sentences or a few pages. The second was to ‘practice in public,’ which meant getting my writing out there, to be read by others.

I am pleased to say I have stuck to these two commitments. I began a daily self-care series which made me commit to writing at least a  few sentences each day for that purpose (OK so I admit I’ve missed a day posting here and there and had to merge a few days or play catch up!). I have also regularly been sending out short stories and articles for consideration and applying for blogging positions.

I have had rejection after rejection, which I of course expected and knew would be part of the process, but it still took a lot of deep breaths and positive self-talk to remind myself of that.  Then, suddenly, an email arrived with the words,  ” We would be delighted to publish your piece!”

I cannot tell you the rush of emotions I went through when I received this email. I am not at all embarrassed to say I cried with pride!

The piece is a memoir style personal essay about my recovery and gender transition, and the publisher is Narratively magazine. For the past month, the editor and I have been going back and forth cutting and changing things. In being my first time working with a publisher in this way, I cannot say if this is a regular occurrence, I expect it is. I found this to be such a valuable experience, I am incredibly grateful for her patience and guidance, and I have learned so much in this process.

Last week we finished the final edit, and I then received an email to notify me of the date of publication, which is today! I am over the moon to share my very first published piece with you all. This has happened a such a significant and special time for me, as I complete the medical part of my gender transition and move into a new and exciting phase of my life.

If you enjoy the piece, please do share it along!

http://narrative.ly/i-didnt-know-i-was-trans-until-i-got-sober/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing Is Permenent- Day 99 of #365daysofselfcare 

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is remembering that no obstacle is permanent

PicsArt_08-06-09.01.30.pngThis week is a big one for me (no pun intended!) as I have a second attempt of my final stage of lower surgery.

The most significant act of self-care I can give myself right now is to forget everything that went wrong before and start with a new perspective.  Also,  that whatever happens, obstacles pass, things change, and all will be well eventually!

Love Is A Doing Word – Day 97 and 98 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is choosing to give our hearts to people who show their love for us in action and not just in words.

IMG_20180805_131339_882.jpgLove is such a powerful emotion, it’s hard to stay mindful with such strong feelings but the stronger the emotion, the more aware you must be.
I have a history of poor relationship choices. I was in such a poor emotional and mental state that I  often left myself open to being hurt and mistreated. In recovery, I have learned to be more discerning about who I open my heart and give my love too.
Love can be such an easy word to say, but without action it is meaningless. As the saying goes, ‘Love is a doing word.’ In assessing my connections with people now, I listen less to what they say and focus more on what they do. It is in peoples actions that you find their true feelings and intentions.

Coping With New People – Day 95 and 96 of #365daysofselfcare 

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is reminding yourself that everyone in your social circle, was once a new person to you

Picture_20180803_150317523Social anxiety makes it difficult to socialize at the best of times and even more so with people you don’t know. My social anxiety, in general, is much improved. However, l do still get anxious about meeting new people.
This is especially the case when those new people are connected to someone l care deeply about. This week, I have had the new relationship friends and family tour and, have felt the extra pressure, from myself, for them to like me.
I had to step up my positive affirmations and remind myself of a few important things when it comes to meeting new folk. That you can only be yourself, that you cannot force anyone to like you, that other people are often just as anxious about wanting to be liked as you are, and, most importantly, that new people are only new once.

Taking Action – Day 93 to 94 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge.

Self-care means knowing when to stop reflecting and start acting

IMG_20180801_191229_442Self-care is sometimes doing something self-soothing and protecting, and other times it’s pushing yourself to do something which, while scary, will benefit you in the end.
I have so many good news things happening in my life. With good things comes the risk of loss and the fear that brings up. My most significant and most scary new thing is my relationship. We have had some teething issues, which, while normal, are very new and frightening for me. I’m scared to get hurt, I’m afraid to risk giving my heart again.
My partner went back home for his birthday, and I decided it was best for us to have some time apart so we could have some space and  I could have some thinking time.
Soon after he left, I realized that while reflecting on the things that scare me is helpful, the only way to overcome that fear is by taking action and facing whatever it is.
On that note, l took a deep breath and jumped on a train to surprise him in his hometown. His face on seeing me told me all I needed to know.