Yesterday, I celebrated two years clean and sober.
I once thought that sobriety would forever be the beacon, lighting my way. Yet now, more than ever, I find myself in the dark.
It has taken two years to learn that there is no way of knowing the path.
I do know this — Sobriety is not the road — it is the mile marker. Sobriety is the daily reminder: There is light. Where my own light comes from, and how it continues to shine, I do not know. But, it emanates from a place inside of me that, two years ago, I would have denied existed. Today, it glows hot like a coal.
In my second year of sobriety, I have shown up for and stepped away from things and people. I’ve taken action and made decisions that once would have required copious amounts of whiskey. I have watched moments of my life unravel and then bloom with a happiness I still do not understand. And I have let go of my still beating heart, like a balloon, and watched it float away into an unforgiving sky, wondering if I will ever feel it again — love.
I have learned that we do not recover from some things. There are some wounds that will never cease to sting. But, if we treat them with care, acknowledge them with honesty, and bandage them properly — they cease to slow us down. Instead, their momentary aches become reminders of who we are, who we were, and who we are becoming. My scars are the road map. I wear them like the tattoos I do not have.
I have learned to smile with my teeth. I do not hide behind my own inadequacy. Perhaps the most poignant lesson I have learned in these past two years is: We are all inadequate. This isn’t a flaw. This is a challenge. This is the opportunity life affords us — to rise up and offer a fragment of greatness, despite our lacking. To create from a place of authenticity, not perfection. To stand alone with the knowledge that, no matter who surrounds us, we remain cogs in a beautiful machine. To honor our worth. To step away from darkness, no matter how fervent its plea to take us over.
Joni Mitchell sings — “We are star dust. We are golden. And, we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” So, I walk in my maze of hedges. I meet dead ends, where I collapse in frustration. But, I stand up. I walk again. Because, I know, I am already in the garden. I can see — on the other side of this wall of leaves — something waits for me. Light gets in through the cracks. I know. One of these days, I will turn at the right corner and I will emerge, unguarded. Luminous.
So I stand here. At the second mile marker, on this — my road.
Two years of nothing. Two years of everything. Baba Ram Dass, you brilliant motherfucker, you called it. I begin to understand the many ways we are infinite. I run my fingers over my scars. Old and new. Rough and smooth. My maps.
Behind me, everything is illuminated. Before me, my heart casts out its high-beams on the dark highway.
And, to whatever power it is that’s listening, I whisper:
For the light. For the road. For the maps.