I’m sitting inside of my humble apartment in Chicago on a rainy October night. Tomorrow is the most important day of the year for me, and it has been for the last three years. I don’t know how I got to this place and in all honesty, I’ll never stop wondering. I don’t know why my struggle came to a screeching halt on that morning of November 1st, 2010. But ever since that morning, I’ve woken up with a sense of purpose, and overall sense of peace. Sure, I’ve struggled. Sure, I’ve questioned whether or not I want to spend the rest of my days announcing to strangers at meetings that my name is Lori and I am an alcoholic. But regardless, I’ve continued to show up and listen. I’ve learned how to love myself and learn how to accept the things I cannot change in a way that allows me to find peace and gratitude, one day at a time.
Today I took a walk around my neighborhood in the spitting rain. I walked through puddles and leaves and found beauty in the quiet afternoon. I do these things as much as possible, just because I can. It’s been a crazy year of growth. I’ve cut ties in relationships that were causing me harm, I’ve watched friends struggle with all of life’s trials and tribulations, I’ve walked away from people because I needed to walk away in order to grow, and I’ve let people back in after deciding that living without them was harder than I thought it would be. I’ve let myself love (like really, really love) for the first time in my whole life. I’ve woken up in fear and gone to bed in peace. I’ve woken up in peace and gone to bed in fear. But I’ve always gone to bed sober, and that’s a pretty amazing thing.
Every now and then I like to think about what it used to be like. How every night I would come home and look in the mirror at myself and see someone I didn’t know staring back at me. How I used to make fast friends with anyone who would let me in. How I’d wake up in the morning and feel like there was a hole inside of me that was getting bigger and bigger and if I didn’t figure out what to fill it with, knowing that I was going to disappear. How I would watch buses pass me on the street and secretly wish that I had the courage to jump in front of them. How all those things I said I would never do became things that I wished I’d never done. But it’s not like that anymore. I’m not like that anymore. What a gift.
They say that each year is a different kind of struggle. Sometimes you will feel like you’re drowning and there will appear to be no way out. And then sometimes it will feel like you’re coasting through every yellow light and catching every wave and life will just feel so damn good. Most days it doesn’t feel like much, it just feels like routine. But it’s a good routine and I like knowing that no matter what comes my way, there is a solution to all the problem of my own making. Also, trees are prettier than they’ve ever been and I can finally drink my coffee black.
The biggest accomplishment of this year for me has been finding a way to appreciate the small victories, instead of focusing on the things that are lacking. You know, this time last year I was practicing yoga four days a week and running like crazy. I was wanting this year of my life to be the most physically healthy year yet. It has not been that at all. But I am okay with that, because it’s undoubtably been my most emotionally healthy year yet. I’ve found a way to allow myself to open up to all of life’s possibilities. I’ve found a way to face some fears and in doing so, have walked hand in hand with love on the other side of all that yuck. It’s been really beautiful to allow myself the experience of being loved by someone else after so many years of trying to force myself on people who were not interested in that kind of love with me because them being the problem was so much easier than me being the problem. And now that I know what it feels like to be the problem, I hope to never make that mistake again. (But of course, I will.)
I have a lot of ideas for the year ahead. Lots of change is headed my way, and we all know that with change comes a lot of discomfort. I can only pray that if my ideas are not good ones, I’ll be open to finding a path that leads me in the right direction. I have a picture in my head of what I want my future to look like, but getting there is going to take a lot of work and a lot of growth. I also know that if I’ve gotten where I am today, I’ll get where I need to be tomorrow and hopefully the day after that, too.
I’m forever grateful for the life that I live today. The people I get to call my friends, the way we help each other grow, the laughter, the tears, and my faith, which grows stronger everyday. All of these things have helped me get where I am and they will continue to be my guides as I try to navigate the path that leads to where I am going.
Three years. Wow.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.