sober lifestyle

Payoff

Allow me just one moment of pure, unadulterated elation, universe. Can you do that? Let me snap my head back and yell at the top of my lungs, without worrying what’s going to fall out of the sky and knock me out when my guard is down.

OK? Here goes:

I PAID OFF MY CREDIT CARD!!!!

*Sigh* Thanks. That felt good. Now, I’ll get back to watching this student loan number climb and wondering how long that’s gonna take to take care of, while my husband tabulates how much he needs me to contribute to the credit cards in his name, which have been used for our vacations and household projects over the past 15 years….

It’s always something, you know? But I do want to commemorate this occasion and enjoy the here and now a little bit, before I allow what’s next to consume me.

Just a few years ago, that effing credit card was maxed out, y’all! Something like 10 grand! I signed up for that shit in another lifetime, at the GAP, to get 20% off clothes I have long since stopped wearing — can’t even remember the last time I thought about the GAP, much less shopped there. But since it was a regular VISA, I used it for every little thing: gas, groceries, sports tickets, half-marathon and fitness competition registrations, car repairs, restaurant and bar checks trumped up by numerous shots of Patron, weekly trips to the liquor store where I never spent less than $60. …

I can’t pretend to know everything that was on there, but I guarantee four digits were blown on alcohol.

And, because all I cared about back then was consuming — escaping through consumption — I let that debt fester for years, pretending it wasn’t there, missing the occasional payment, and trashing my credit score.

It’s easy to lose sight of the little everyday benefits of sobriety when you’re this far along in the journey — July 7 will be my 3-year anniversary — so reminders like this are so important. I mean, everybody’s experience is different, but I think one universal upside to quitting drinking/using drugs is the massive amount of money you save.

In my case, that savings signifies a sense of responsibility that I lost to my addiction but now feel like I’ve regained. I’m taking care of my shit, whether it’s at the part-time copywriting job that has thus far (knock on wood) been a perfect fit for my schedule and salary needs, or in my grad school studies that have thus far (knock again) yielded a 4.0 GPA and a counseling internship for next spring, or in my household chores (the volume of laundry and dishes for just two people continues to blow my mind) or in my self-care and recovery maintenance (exercise, therapy, sleeping, reading, blogging…and, you know, not drinking).

Like any recovering addict, I have more than just monetary obligations to “make good” on, and some debts I can never repay, but all of the above are part of my “living amends.”

Yeah, my hubby and I still have shared debt and never-ending bills — what couple doesn’t? — and I had to borrow to go back to school and pursue this new path as a helping professional, and I still have a weakness for custom sneakers, and Door Dash delivery sushi…🤑

There is definitely always something that falls immediately into whatever open spaces you clear in your life, another mole that pops up every time you whack one, a to-do list that never really gets done. It’s hard to recognize, let alone celebrate, the little, fleeting “W”s…it requires being in the moment, without regretting the past or bracing for what’s next — and shoot, sometimes, that seems damn near impossible!

So, I forced myself to do it, to stop preparing for next week’s assignments and sit with what’s happening right now. Killing that credit card breathed a little life into my bank account, while reminding me how much this responsible alcohol-free lifestyle is really worth.

Who knows what will happen in the future, but in this moment, I’ve earned the right to get up here and yell, I’M BEATING AN ADDICTION!

…And look up to the sky, not with fear of what might be, but with gratitude for all that is. 🙏🏻

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