I will never forget October 22nd, 2012.
On that day, exactly nine years ago, I quit drinking.
Nine years ago.
It was a big deal, HUGE actually, because until then my whole life revolved around that habit.
Alcohol stood firm at the center of my existence, and almost everything I did or didn’t do was somehow connected to it and influenced by it.
There was a constant managing of getting enough alcohol in my system, and trying to somehow deal with the consequences of that (like lying and cheating and forgetting stuff and eating like shit and driving when I shouldn’t have and making loads of promises but not living up to them, constantly).
It was bad.
Almost thirty years of drinking, three decades of hiding and numbing my distress and running away from my intense fear of life, had turned me into a cynical, angry, pretty hopeless person.
Until I stopped, on a cold Sunday evening.
I first told my sister, at her kitchen table while she was folding the laundry, and in the following days, I sat down with my best friends and went all-in.
Of course everybody knew, and everybody had known for a long time.
Almost all of them had somehow tried to point it out to me, to bring it up in conversations, to address it, to wake me up to it.
And of course, like a true addict, I had denied everything and downplayed my habit massively, over and over again.
But all of that stopped exactly nine years ago.
Or maybe my life, the life I love so much now, really started back then.
The first year was horrible, not just because of my longing for booze (that craving only lasted a couple of months), but because I found out that I had no emotional life skills whatsoever.
In many respects, I was still like a shaky adolescent.
Sobriety was new and terrifying for me, but learning to deal with discomfort and shame and anger and fear and insecurity and all of these other human experiences without the soothing buzz of alcohol in my system, was way more complicated.
Drinking was my cure-all, and I could no longer rely on its (dubious) powers.
But I didn’t know.
Thank god I hadn’t considered this part of the cleaning up, the horrendously slow and anxious acquisition of emotional skills, because if I’d known how hard and painful that would be, I’d probably still be drinking.
(Being naively ambitious and somewhat cocky can be an absolute blessing.)
I hardly ever stop to reflect on what has happened since, even though I am extremely grateful for my brand new life.
It is mentioned in quite a few coaching conversations with my clients, for sure, but it’s not that I sit on the couch counting my blessings every night.
While I am writing this I am not even particularly emotional, because so much has changed in the meantime, and I’ve just moved on.
But what I have gained remains incredible, and incredibly powerful.
Quitting my habits (I gave up smoking too) helped me appreciate the things we encounter as humans so much more, both the bad AND the good.
It inspired me to find what was and is true deep within me, and within all of us.
It was the real starting point of my spiritual journey and the beginning of my awakening, and I am beyond happy with and because of that process.
Besides that, it gently pushed me into a fulfilling and exciting new career I had never considered before.
So many wins.
Nine years is a long time.
It’s more than enough to forget who you were before.
It’s long enough to be left with only vague memories of all the things you tried to run away from, all the things you hated about yourself and the world, and all the crap you pulled on other people.
It was extremely hard in the beginning and I wanted to give up giving up at least a thousand times, but I didn’t, somehow I kept on going.
I survived, and then some.
So, yeah, nine years, that really IS a long time.
But when it happened, when I surrendered, it was just a today.
And that’s why I am sharing this.
Because maybe this is your today.
(Photo by @a_d_s_w for Unsplash)