Full of gratitude for an amazing Saturday morning. The sun at my twelve o’clock, a clear blue sky, song birds singing their morning songs, the sound of flowing, bubbling, trickling water through the small creek across the street. Green grass and budding trees, sparkling dew on the fir trees, and woodpecker tapping its location in the forest. The smell of the freshest, clean crisp air — greens, blues — an early morning scent like no other, with a feeling of calmness, rest, peace and wonder.

How did I end sitting in a place that was only in my dreams? Engulfed in the sounds, sights and smells of such beauty, nature at its best. This is what I missed out on while I was sleeping off hangovers, headaches and sour stomachs. Piecing together the night before, weighed down by guilt, shame and regrets. There’s moments — these mornings of gratitude, reflection and clarity that are small gifts of sobriety, a reward of hard work, discipline, perseverance, that could only be measured by the heart.

When you’re convinced that something will never happen, think again! I’ll take my last experience as a “God sign,” that he has heard my cry for help, that he’s working through others and there’s a bigger picture ahead that I’ve yet to see, and to just keep believing. There is life inside of me; I feel its presence yet I hold back for some unknown reason. I feel it emerge from time to time, taking over my mind and body, like a huge burst of energy. Things go still in my soul and life inside of me takes action, against my desire to hold back and internalize.

Life speaks up and breaks the dam of emotions. It surprises me every time and I often think afterwards, where did that come from? Who is that person inside of me, that force to be reckoned with, that protector of inner truth not afraid to speak her mind. More often I feel awkward, nervous, scared, defensive and shy, different in some way from all the rest of society, uncomfortable in my own skin. So I drank alcohol of every kind to ease that nervous tension and feel that sense of comfort that came every time I poured it down my throat. That escape is no longer an option for me — my time with that poison is over and past. I had to grow or die, simple as that.

Now on a different path entirely, finally with answers to my malady — questions answered, not all, but some. Rather than fighting God and blocking him out, I invite him in, to be my teacher, mentor, advisor and closest friend. I do not tire so easily as I did, resisting forgiveness and wasting energy on self-pity and self-destruction. The awkwardness, fear, worry and nervousness still remain; it hasn’t gone away completely. I still feel it in my belly. Do I think about picking up a drink – honestly? Sure… yet I’m totally, completely and utterly convinced if I do I will surely die and that’s my reality.

Putting down the bottle, I’ve traded death for life, and I didn’t find it on my own. It was given to me free of charge. Little did I know at the time what an incredibly amazing gift it would become. To my shock and disbelief, it just keeps giving, contingent on the work I put in. I don’t pretend to know it all anymore, although my ego still does. Now I have a few more tools at my disposal that I can use to separate pride and ego from self and separate myself from them. Given the right direction and perspective that only comes from asking for help from others, which I was unable to do in the past.

It was me verses the world. I was hell bent on winning. I put up a good fight, up until hopelessness took the fight out of me and I lost. Fighting for a useless cause I can see the futility of that fight by the incredible hard work I’ve done over the last 2 years and 11 months. Surrender, acceptance, humility and honesty; discipline, taking direction, faith, trust, determination, open-mindedness, and willingness all contribute to the battle I now find myself in. Rather than relying completely on self, I rely on the people, the fellowship and program that gave me my life back.

The life inside of me that was suppressed for so long is finally starting to poke its head out of the black soil. With God’s help and my new found family in AA, it will continue to grow, bloom, flourish, gain strength, overcome impossibilities, conquer difficulties, outlast storms, fires, floods and disasters. I am a warrior of a different breed, who’s been given many chances, yet this one is the last and there is no going back. Death will come in a very painful, unpleasant way if my focus and attention is not directed properly.

I will get off track occasionally, as I do, but up to now I’ve always been able to find my way back. I don’t take for granted that dangers lurk in the shadows of my alcoholism. That temptations are around every corner. That the lies I tell myself may win over me some day. I put on the helmet, sword and shield of salvation which is God. With that insurmountable power and grace will come survival, happiness and life of the greatest proportion.

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