Celebrating 18 Years Sober – My Sobriety is Now an Adult

So, picture this: I’ve been playfully teasing about my sobriety in the weeks and months leading up to the illustrious 18-year mark of Wednesday, May 1st, 2024. From cracking jokes about my sober status being old enough to pull the voting lever in an election year to ribbing that it can now hit the jackpot at casinos or sneak into Rated-R flicks, the banter’s been on fire. At least according to me it has been. If you know me, then you know I crack myself up on the regular and I never met a dad joke I didn’t like. And let’s not overlook the classic zinger “My Sobriety’s old enough to buy cigarettes!”—a quip cut short by the revelation that the smoking age now sits at 21. Whoops, news flash! Who knew? Certainly not me. I gave up the cancer sticks (Marlboro Menthol Lights, a’hem) after five or six years sober.

In the past, the lead-up to an anniversary in recovery can sometimes feel heavy, like trudging through molasses—a gloomy raincloud casting a shadow or a full-blown Murphy’s Law extravaganza where nothing goes right. But this time around, well, aside from a nagging cough that just won’t quit, life’s cruising along in what I’d call… normalcy? All I seem to have these days is abundance and classy problems. And you know what? That’s pretty darn awesome. (Fingers crossed for good luck!) This must be what happy, joyous, and free feels like.

This must be what happy, joyous, and free feels like.

Last night, in the tranquility of my cozy home, amid the serenade of my Boston Terriers Roxie and Bella harmonizing their snores and toots—trust me, it’s a symphony worth noting—a deep thought hit my skull. As the gentle pitter-patter of rain outside danced on my freshly mowed lawn, a profound truth dawned on me: my sobriety isn’t a kid anymore. Cue the soul-searching moment. What does that even mean?

Flashback to ’93, when I turned 18 for the first time—I was itching for adulthood, envisioning a carefree existence with friends, doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, without a care in the world. Fast forward to today, where I’m still strutting solo and living life on my terms with my squad. But here’s the kicker: Now I care deeply about a whole lot of things. My sobriety saw me guiding my son from a 9-year-old to a 27-year-old, navigating the complexities of single motherhood every step of the way. Seven home moves, seven job title changes, three dogs, and five vehicles later (Shoutout to Brad Brotherton at Brotherton Cadillac for hooking up four of the five), our household of two has weathered it all.

From Crohn’s disease bombshells to stage one melanoma showdowns (PSA Alert – colonoscopies and sunscreen saves lives people!), my journey—marked by friendships, sponsorships, and a revolving door of therapists and churches—has embraced diverse interests from thrift shopping to pickleball to extensive volunteer work. Debt doldrums, addiction acrobatics, workaholism, an emergency heart surgery wake-up call at 40 all shaped my path to homeownership, being debt-free, having a job that doesn’t feel like a job, travel escapades, and social media storytelling journeys.

Weddings, baby showers, hundreds (literally) of other events, and the stark reality of too many farewells punctuate my tale, highlighting the bittersweet essence of the recovery community’s narrative. Lessons learned and experiences gained: does this patchwork quilt of life make me primed for the realm of sober adulthood?

Is my sobriety ready for adulthood?

Time to crunch the numbers! There’s a common belief in recovery circles that the age at which individuals plunge into addiction marks a freeze on their emotional growth. My addiction journey began at Sweet 16, and I embraced sobriety at 30. Fast forward through the last 18 years, and according to the girl math playbook, I’m rocking it at 34. Don’t mind if I do!

I’m really 34! (because MATH MATTERS)

While I have no idea what the next 18 years might have in store, I’m grateful for every friend, family member, co-worker, boss, sponsor, and medical professional who has brought me to where I am today. I believe my 40s have been better than my 30s, and I know for sure that my 30s were better than my 20s. Girl mathing again, this means my 50s will be off the hook! I hope you’ll be around to join me. If strength was measured by a person’s depth and weight of the endless support of their surrounding community, I would be Wonder Woman or an Olympic Gold medalist. Sobriety has taught me many things, but topping the list is the people I choose to spend my time with. We do, in fact, become like them.

I choose to live in the mindset that the best is yet to come. I’ve consciously decided to embrace the belief that the future holds boundless possibilities. The further I journey through sobriety, life’s labyrinth, and the complexities of being human, the more I realize how little I truly comprehend. Yet, amidst this uncertainty, one truth shines brightly: placing my faith in a higher power, tending to my inner sanctum, and extending a helping hand to others often pave the path to serendipity, one day at a time.

Through this lived experience, I’ve come to understand that when life takes unexpected turns or veers off-course, it’s often a prelude to something even grander on the horizon. The significance of getting sober reverberates deeply, but the true testament lies in the daily commitment to staying the course and the ability to find gratitude in life’s little moments. Yes, getting sober matters. It just turns out that staying sober matters more.

Thank you, community, for 18.

xoxo,

-AB

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