Do you know the Serenity Prayer? I am sure you do, it’s plastered on white-washed blocks of wood in home decor stores, scattered throughout Pinterest on backgrounds of sunsets and beaches, and used in every inspirational text to the point the words have somewhat lost their meaning. But in case you don’t know it, here it is:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
I don’t have much serenity. Instead of acceptance, when I’m faced with something I cannot change, I eat even if I am not hungry, I bite my nails until they hurt, I scroll through social media looking for people to compare myself to, and I drink. I drink when I can’t accept the things I cannot change.
This week, my brother and his wife brought a human into the world. He is spectacular, and I can’t wait to meet him. But, the day after he was born, I felt like someone stepped on my chest. I spent most of the day looking at my phone, watching Facebook announcements and photos roll in. I wanted updates about everything, how my nephew O liked his new brother, how big he was, how the delivery went. But, mostly I wanted to be there. When I got home, I walked straight to the couch, where E was sitting, and cried.
Long ago, I made the decision not to live in the same city and state as my family. Of course, I didn’t make the decision for the reason to be away from them, but it is a consequence of my decision, along with loneliness. I spent a good chunk of my first summer in Chicago drinking bottles of wine by myself in my bedroom while watching “The West Wing” or “30 Rock”. Now, I have a partner and a solid group of friends, but I still get homesick, particularly in times when I am missing big moments.
In sobriety, I can’t drink the loneliness away. I have to let it sit there, on my chest, and accept that it is there. I have to let it move through me and hold on until it passes. It will, because it always does, but for those few hours or days, it hurts so bad that I don’t know if I will make it.
Accepting the hard emotions, along with the decisions I’ve made that bring me to situations with those emotions, is becoming the true test of my sobriety and will be the determining factor on whether or not I resume drinking after this year is up. This is a new revelation and sometime I want to write more about, which I promise I will when I am done with my book (20,000 words to go!).
For now, I will continue to muddle my way through acceptance by heaving gratitude on to those tough feelings. It may be a few months before I meet my nephew, but he is here and I get to be his aunt. No bottle of wine is that good.