4 Years Clean

Friday 5 August marks 4 years clean for me. The 26 March 2012 marked the first day of my recovery; the day I walked through those doors, utterly defeated. A shell of my former self. Broken. This was the beginning of my journey. I thought I was an alcoholic. I am not. Here is what I discovered.



I had been attending AA for a few months by that point. I thought I had arrived at my destination. The place I belonged. I had not. I explain this distinction in the post marking four years sober.

…whilst I am incredibly fortunate that I haven’t had a drink since that meeting, it still took me a further five months to address my misuse of codeine. I was in such a state of denial that I was utterly convinced I had addressed my problem by the acceptance of my alcoholism. What I discovered, however, is that I am an addict, through-and-through. Upon venturing into the dark abyss of my using history, it was plain for me and my sponsor to see that my history of using there was a clear pattern of picking up one drug after another; which ran parallel to my abnormal use of alcohol. She took me to my first NA meeting…

So, August 5th is when I attended my first NA meeting. It’s the day I have been abstinent from all mood and mind altering substances. It’s the day my journey deviated to join a new path. A path where I fit more comfortably, where I met my tribe. The 5 August is the day I came home.


It’s times like this, anniversaries, where I instinctively take a moment to reflect. I ask myself: What has the past four years been like? What have I learned that has made me who am I today? What’s next on this adventure?!

What have the first four years of recovery been like?

In short, it’s been a ride. My god, has it been a rollercoaster of a ride. I often describe my first few months, possibly first year, as swinging on a pendulum between depression and mania. I was riddled with disease: Physically, I felt dominated by utter exhaustion. I was a shell of my former self. Mentally I was defeated. Emotionally, I was broken.

I feel like I have only just landed, really. The longer I am around, the more I feel that I don’t know. I don’t know how it works, life. I still feel broken. I guess to some extent I am. I suffer with stress and depression. I’ve uncovered unresolved issues with codependency, a disordered relationship with food and an insatiable desire to change the way that I feel. Whilst I have perceived those shards of brokenness appearing as a fractured self, they’re the mosaic of the lessons I’ve encountered and they make me who I am. Today, I am proud of that woman and all of my pieces. Four years of recovery has taken me to this place; where I am accepting of myself, most days.

I’ve learned that we have a misconceived notion of human beings. An ill-conceived idea of both how a person should be formed: whole, unblemished. And that wholeness somehow equates to success. Wholeness being one without scars, or stretch marks from expanding and contracting to life’s lessons. That’s bullshit. Those people don’t exist.  And living in a way to achieve this is not living in alignment with your true self. You’re kidding yourself. I was kidding myself. I was chasing my tail over something which doesn’t exist. Wholeness is a fallacy. We are all flawed in one way or another.

I have achieved, grown, developed in a way I never thought possible. I have refilled that shell of a woman with love, passion, warmth and aliveness. I have done this in spite of my brokenness. I have grown beyond I could ever imagine. Inwardly, I love me today. Outwardly, I have lost nearly 50 pounds, I’m really active, I write, I cook, I love my life. And I love the people in my life. But I still struggle, we all do. I have bouts of depression and stress which cripple me. But I arise stronger, and I keep practising. I’m clean. I’m four YEARS clean. That is a miracle.



What has recovery taught me?



It has been a constant, and incessant, challenge of what I think I know; and then the universe has laughed in the face of that conception. I realise that there is no short cut. I wish that there was. Its fucking hard. Growth, without drugs, is painful. I’ve been shaken to my core. I had this ill-conceived idea in the early days that I would fix myself. That I would somehow mend the broken parts of me and emerge as a new woman, having realised the solution to my woes. I still had the conception that recovery would stop the pain. I tried and tried to cheat the process.

Lao Tzu says this:




I have learned that I cannot speed up the process; I cannot stride through it, I cannot jump up and see what is over the horizon. I must be rooted in that pain and experience it. And with my tribe, I am able to stand tall, with my feet planted, slowly walking through life.

It is the pain who makes me who I am, in all of my broken glory. And the truth is, that the pain never stops. It’s part of life. Pain is the pathway to finding your true self. And knowing yourself is true enlightenment.


Where am I going?

Lao Tzu goes on to say…

“…He who shows himself is not conspicuous;
He who considers himself right is not illustrious;
He who brags will have no merit;
He who boasts will not endure.
From the point of view of the way these are ‘excessive food and useless excresences’.
As there are things that detest them, he who has the way does not abide in them.” 

Recovery, the way, is one toward truth. Self-truth, truth about my journey and truth from my heart. The whole purpose of my blog is to unashamedly share my thoughts and feelings in this journey both openly and authentically; to show my way.

In sharing those thoughts, feelings and brokenness, I connect with others. And I bask in their openness and brokenness.  I remain truthful and authentic by listening to others and learning from their pain. That’s how connection works for me. We are all one. There is no hierarchy. We are one great puzzle and in sharing out there in the recovery sphere we are able to match those puzzle pieces together. 

So, In truth, I’ve no idea where I am going. I guess that’s the real lesson: the universe has a plan for us, and its better than we can imagine. Sure, I put in the ground work. I plan to move to Portland at the end of the year. I plan to start a huge new chapter in moving back to the US. I plan to pursue my passions of writing, cooking and coaching. I will focus my energies in doing just that. But the universe, well, the universe has a plan of its own! I guess I stand tall, feet planted and I enjoy the ride!