Today, 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.