My 2 Year Soberversary

An old wound

An old scar

Today is my 2 year soberversary. A month ago when I started anticipating this day, I thought the blog post I wrote would be different. I thought I’d rehash the last year and talk about what I’ve learned.

I’m going through a kind of crisis right now where things I thought I had dealt with years ago are coming back fresh. Memories, events and incidents that were behind me are now front and center (in this case, childhood sexual abuse). At first I felt betrayed by myself, that my mind could play these tricks and allow me to feel the pain as fresh as when it happened.

But now I see it as a gift.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been looking at sobriety backwards. I thought that sobriety was my reward for work well done. I thought it was the prize at the end of the Shit Race. You know, the I’m-so-done-with-this-shit race. But apparently, there’s still a lot in me that needs to be purged and released.

Opportunities to heal present themselves when we’re ready to receive them. They may come at 30 days sober, 6 months, 2 years or 10 years. Sobriety is not a guarantee of happiness. It simply gives us the clarity to let the real work begin. For me, that means working with a professional to help navigate me through these rough waters. In the past, my only goal was to feel better. I’d work on old issues, feel a sense of relief and take that relief as a sign that I was done. I never dug deep enough to really heal because I thought feeling better was as good as it got.

Before we had kids and in the days of disposable income, my husband and I used to go to Mexico just about every weekend. We’d ride our souped-up quads down the beach and race people up a sandy mountain called The Hill. One time, I got a nasty burn below my knee when I stopped short and my body flung forward into the hot pipes of the quad. The doctor gave me silver ointment to put on the burn. Every day, I had to remove the bandage, scrub the dead skin off and reapply the ointment. Every day I knew that the pain would be excruciating. I wanted to skip the step of removing the dead skin and just put more cream on top but the doctor convinced me that it was the only way the wound would heal. One day, I took off the bandage and saw healthy pink skin.

Without 2 years of sobriety under my belt, I wouldn’t have the strength to scour these old wounds. I wouldn’t need to because I would be satisfied with feeling a little better and having another drink.

The gift that God has given me is a chance to have more. In this I have such hope.

Flying up The Hill. I'm the one on the right (wearing pants this time. No more burns for me).

Flying up The Hill. I’m the one on the right, winning the race and wearing pants this time. No more burns for me.

50 Comments on “My 2 Year Soberversary

  1. Hi Karen. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Go you for being so strong and giving up alcohol. At times I think I should take this challenge, but right at this point in my life…I’m not ready. I don’t drink everyday, but I’m a huge Binge Drinker. I’m 45 and and been like that since a teenager. I too was abused as a child and still struggle from time to time. Anyway that’s too long a story. Love and hugs to you. Paula xxx

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  2. Congrats on your 2 years, Karen, I am glad that I stumbled across your space. I just celebrated 5 years and while my blog usually doesn’t touch upon my recovery, blogs like your have opened me up to moving in a new direction with my writing.

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    • Thanks so much! I’m really enjoying your blog. I thought I wasn’t going to write about recovery either but I still have some things to get off my chest. Congratulations on 5 years!

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  3. Happy Birthday! I have six months today (and someone else i know has 20 years) so seeing all the progress in the women’s recovery community is SUPER awesome. I only came across your blog today, but it was perfect timing to add you to my Bloglovin reader!!

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  4. Hi Karen,
    Just getting caught up with all my favorite bloggers, and I am so happy to be able to congratulate you on 2 years! We are about 6 months apart, I just celebrated 18 months, isn’t it amazing and awesome? As many have said, I am proud to have been a part of your recovery, and please know your words are an inspiration for me, always. I am sorry to hear you having been going through some rough emotional waters, but I am certain that you have the equipment to navigate through them, and I look forward to reading about your continuing journey.

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  5. Yeah for soberversaries!!

    I loved this post, and this part really struck me:
    ‘Opportunities to heal present themselves when we’re ready to receive them…Sobriety is not a guarantee of happiness. It simply gives us the clarity to let the real work begin…In the past, my only goal was to feel better. I’d work on old issues, feel a sense of relief and take that relief as a sign that I was done. I never dug deep enough to really heal because I thought feeling better was as good as it got.’

    I absolutely get this – for ages, I thought that if I felt better, I was doing OK. But OK is not healing, and it took a while for that to really sink in.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog these past few days 😉 It’s great to ‘meet’ you!

    Now go and eat some cake to celebrate your two years!

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  6. You are doing the hard work. And the cool thing is – you are DOING it! I also had that “never done” feeling – I want to check something off my list of personal growth or whatever and move on. But you are right – we circle around and heal another level and in a deeper way and sometimes we don’t even realize that we have thoroughly healed until much later. Love and strength to you – thanks for writing.

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    • Yes, it’s the need to check something off a list that makes us rush what can’t be rushed. Thanks for sending me love and strength Marie!

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      • YES! I keep telling myself, “no matter how ready you are to exit the highway, you can’t actually take the exit until you get there” to try and keep myself from rushing things…..Thanks for writing.

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  7. What a wonderful post and the imagery is just beautiful / painful. And the comments here and love shown demonstrates how many lives you touch with your writing and your journey. Two years is a period of breaking through that initial “high” of sobriety and getting into a new phase of recovery. I too am not far removed from two years and I can see a huge difference between two and three and as much as I saw between one and two. Our idea of what things are change. And the scrubbing of wounds, of venturing into the murky waters of life unhinged and life sorted, of removing the filters that we used to rely on…this is the gritty, glorious stuff that makes it all worth it.

    Lovely words and congrats on your two years.

    Blessings
    Paul

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    • Thank you Paul! Yes, there was an intial high, then most recently a plateau. I guess I jinxed myself! But you’re right, it is gritty and glorious and definitely worth it. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! It’s wonderful to see you get that kind of recognition and have to opportunity to reach even more people with your insight and message of hope. 🙂

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  8. Dear Karen, many congratulations on the second anniversary in sobriety. I too felt that getting sober was the worst part, and that I was cured
    forgetting too that it was not just the alcohol that forced me to walk into “those rooms,” I did learn as time went by, that it was more than the drinking, and that the pain associated with the other happenings, you describe some very similar things, needed to be opened up, discussed, and reopened again and again, as you describe your healing knee. Finally in God’s time, there is a gift that comes and goes, and it is one that
    your might have heard of, it is the gift of being a “wounded healer.” You will never receive that gift, until you have paid your due, gotten sober and than went back and scraped those sores open, so that they could heal. Blessings for the journey, there you will find your joy!

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  9. Dear Karen, many congratulations on your milestone! We are of a similar “vintage,” and I agree that this is a confusing and sometimes painful stage of recovery! I’m glad it is also bringing you joyful things.

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  10. Yay Karen!! I’m so happy to see this post and your words are so touching. Something about anniversaries (so far) feel challenging to the point of discomfort and then suddenly they break open to reveal a gift. I am sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling, but what a great analogy to a painful yet healing wound. Especially love the picture at the end of you flying up the hill. Congratulations to you.

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    • A month ago I thought my 2nd soberversary was going to be boring! Of all the struggles I could have, this one is most important and far reaching. It’s work worth doing for sure. I love that picture too! I had to dig through a massive box of old photos to find it. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to race that quad without lots of beer, which is why I’ll never do it again!

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  12. Karen — so happy for you and so proud. You’re working very hard and it’s paying off. These journeys are never easy and I know it’s tempting to quit the process and just walk away. But, as you know, we don’t heal when we do that. You have to scrub the wound every day, and put the ointment on it so the fresh you can come out. :o) I think it’s interesting that I could barely see your scar in that photo — to me that’s proof that you will heal and be healthy and move forward. 🙂 Hugs to you.

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    • It’s funny because the scar seems so bad to me! I’m known to be really hard on myself. 🙂 Thank you for the hugs and for your friendship!

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  13. Congratulations on 2 years!!!!
    I have definitely had the underlying assumption in the past 1 year 3 months that I would be able to let go of all the yucky stuff and move forward. And I have to agree with you in saying “not so.” Sobriety has given me the gift, too, of actually starting to really work through things, instead of just glossing them over with a mojito or a vodka tonic. Sobriety definitely has been that scouring of the wound for me – it hurts like shit. But that’s how the healing comes.
    Sitting with you and your journey in compassion, friend. I’ll be lending you my thoughts and love in the weeks to come, I know how difficult this process can be. But I’m so grateful you’re doing it sober… that takes guts!! You are a gusty, courageous woman.
    Congrats again!

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    • Thank you so much! I remember feeling discouraged in the beginning that people who had been sober for years still struggled from time to time. It didn’t make sense to me but now it does. Thank you for your support!

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  14. I couldn’t be happier for you, Karen! It has been a privilege to watch you grow and flourish in sobriety. Congratulations!

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  15. Two years is awesome Karen….Congratulations!
    I look at sobriety as the catalyst for opening me to place where i can explore and start to heal those past wounds…it’s not easy, but if I was still drunk nothing would get done. Ever. I love the whole image of ripping off the dead skin and healing, though the truth is that little scar will always be there. Things happen in our lives and change us, but better to have a little scar, healed, than an open wound. Those scars are reminders of where we have been and how, thank god, we are different now.
    Doing the deep work is hard, but hopefully only a little scar will be left at the end….
    2 Years!!!
    That is a miracle.

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    • Thank you!!! You know, this is the first time I’ve confronted this issue sober so maybe that’s why it’s so intensely difficult. You’re right that nothing really gets done when we’re drinking which is why I put the pain in a box. It feels good to have these 2 years as a foundation for the rest of my life. Scars make us interesting if nothing else!

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  16. Congratulations Karen, two years is a real accomplishment. I’m sorry that you are having to deal with old wounds, but I am so happy that you are at a point in your recovery where you have the ability to do it. That is a gift of sobriety.
    I understand what it’s like to have to deal with something painful that happened in the past. When I was 15, I was raped by my older brother, and it took me 20 years to even begin dealing with it. And now, it’s still an ongoing process. One thing that helped me is a book called Mending th Soul, by Steven Tracy. It looks at recovery from abuse spiritually. It is designed to be used in a therapuetic setting as a several week long program, but unfortunately the program isn’t offered in Tucson. I still found it very helpful…it gave me a lot of insight and new perspectives on how to deal with old wounds.
    Congrats again. You inspire me. 🙂
    ~Jami

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    • I”ll look into that book. Thanks for the recommendation. I guess we never completely get over abuse but I was still surprised to have it come up again so strongly. Different points in my life have given me different insights and I’m sure that seeing the innocence of my children has triggered me. Thank you for everything, Jami. We need to meet in person soon!

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  17. Congrats- you have earned the clarity to move forward ,eh? There must be something about July that brings out a lot of emotion that we thought was ‘dealt with’ – but maybe these things never ‘go away’ they just come back and allow us to heal a little more of the wounds in our souls/minds etc. Our emotions are not in a box with one trigger – they are spread all throughout our experiences and come up to ‘surprise’ us at all different times. We are always working with a ‘process’ –

    My favorite line: Sobriety is not a guarantee of happiness. It simply gives us the clarity to let the real work begin.
    I wish I knew if there was a guarantee to happiness… but that would imply some sort of definitive ‘end’ – as in – I’m here – happiness… but I can’t imagine things are like that – everything is always changing and making things different and we feel that we there is a state of happiness or non happiness – and maybe therein lies our problem – expecting that ‘end result’ when there really is no end – it just perpetual change with healing and spaces of peace and serenity – we experience happy, sad, mad etc – and it’s ok to have feelings that are not just ‘happy’ – we are not weak because we feel. We are stronger for feeling and acknowledging and seeing what we can do with those emotions. And I’m also crazy 🙂

    So – I cannot quite imagine you on a Quad.

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    • Haha! That’s why I put the picture! I can’t believe it was almost 16 years ago that I risked my life every weekend. I don’t that in me now.
      I love what you say about our emotions not having just one trigger. I have been visualizing my memories in a box to try to control them but it’s impossible because like you say, they’re woven through all of our experiences. I thought I had mastered living life in the present (with all the happy, sad, mad and bored) but I can’t fully do that until I release the shame of the past. Thank you for your insight!

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  18. Very cool and true. I wish you moment to moment clarity and just enough chaos to appreciate the peace you’ve earned!

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  19. “It simply gives us the clarity to let the real work begin.” My favorite line … I get what you’re saying about getting it backwards. It’s like a telescope. Stop looking to see what’s out there; look through the opposite lens to see what’s inside. We (I) keep finding more to work on. And it’s finally okay. Happy Anniversary! with lots of love, Lisa

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  20. Congratulations Karen on 2 years today!!! Wow…2 YEARS and look at how good you are taking care of yourself! I’m sorry that the old wounds are hurting as bad as the burn on your knee, but like you said ‘it’s healing now’. You are being so strong and loving to yourself right now. You’re an inspiration to me! Big hugs!

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