This is the part of a weekly column by Ashley Johnson surrounding the struggles she has faced in her own life and the concept of being human.
Warning: some entries, including this one, will contain strong content regarding abuse, addiction, self-harm and eating disorders.
My first thought when I saw that my column was posted last week was “can I print a retraction?” I lied. Well, that’s not entirely true. When I actually wrote it my words were accurate. I told you all that I had just celebrated 18 months sober, which was indeed the case when I composed it. Its not, however, the case now.
I have thirteen days sober today, which I am incredibly grateful for. I questioned whether or not I would write another column. My pride and ego didn’t want to admit defeat, although it really isn’t defeat. My heart told me to write. My minor bump in the road is precisely what “we are human” is about. I felt compelled to put pen to paper (yes, some people still do that) and let you all know what happened–not because I want a pat on the back, sympathy, or even your concern. This is life. With all its ups and downs, tears and smiles, and everything in between. I fell. But I got back up. THAT’S what matters.
The specifics of what happened or why aren’t important. The fact is that I am human, I am an alcoholic, and that is okay today. I have been given the grace and opportunity to move forward. Yes, I have a new sobriety date. The weeks, and even months, leading up to me taking that first drink have taught me a few lessons. Rigorous honesty is imperative if I want to stay sober and live a fulfilling life. I considered myself mostly honest. I say mostly because I see now that I began to engage in behaviors that I wasn’t honest about. I thought I could handle it, that it was no big deal. Therein lies the problem: I was trying to handle my life. Whenever I take control of things, God is slowly nudged out of the picture and I forget I am not the one in charge.
The second half of the first step in AA deals with un-manageability. To admit that I cannot manage things on my own means I trust God to. Or at the very least someone else to. Anything but my own brain. I lost sight of that. When those white lies crept in, they put a screen between God and I. They also put a barrier between my support system and I. When I chose to continue down that path and told myself I was doing just fine, walls were put up. I cannot stay sober without my higher power. That connection is sustained and is able to grow with complete honesty.
So here I am again, a new sobriety date. Every other time I have relapsed a period of self-pity and darkness ensued. Today I am hopeful and excited about life and school. I am not allowing the choices I made almost two weeks ago define me. I may have fallen hundreds of times, but God and my friends have helped me get back up. The real victory comes with living life day to day, grasping the positive out of seemingly negative situations, and learning more about myself in the process. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I am sober. Today is a good day.