I am hug-deprived, exhausted, fearful of the virus and trying to keep it together many days. I am also a little over nine years in recovery from alcohol and drugs, and my sobriety is the greatest gift I have. It is the thing I hold on tightest to, because without it I would not have the life I have today.
So how am I prioritizing my recovery headed into this strange holiday season? I am it putting first and foremost. I’m attending as many recovery meetings as I need each week, calling my fellows in recovery, and working with women who are earlier in their recovery process than I am. Taking time to talk to these women and to be with likeminded people on Zoom gets my head in the right state of mind to face the day.
Being able to speak uninterrupted for three minutes and really be heard and not responded to is a rare gift. Meetings also allow me to experience different perspectives, teach me how to listen to others, without trying to fix things. It’s amazing to think that I’ve developed so many supportive relationships over Zoom with people I’ve never even met in-person.
Before or after my morning meeting, I jump on my indoor spin bike to take a class. I am able to enjoy the music, the words of the instructor and pushing my body to perform. I hear so many words of wisdom from the instructors, such as “self-care is not selfish, it’s self-respect” and “it is not about where you are on the leaderboard, it is the fact that you are on the leaderboard.” I get off my bike and feel renewed. It is a re-set for my mind and body.
They live just five minutes away. I have been very careful about my comings and goings and interactions so that I have been able to continue going over to their home. The luxury of a change of scenery from my one-bedroom apartment has been a lifesaver. I am so grateful to share meals with them, watch “Jeopardy” together and help each other out with errands.
I treasure these walks and talks. I live by the water and so I just love walking down to the beach. I also enjoy solo walks with some music, or just silence. I am not great at formal meditation, but a brisk walk to the beach without my phone is meditative to me. I love listening to the birds, seeing the scenery change as we enter winter. Nature is soul-feeding to me.
The darkness of December has been particularly rough for me this year. The first few weeks post-time change I was literally getting in bed at 7 p.m. I did not fight it, I just let myself go to bed early, knowing that in the morning the sun would shine again. I have learned during this time to be gentler to myself. That has been an important lesson.
I am trying to keep up as many of my holiday traditions as possible and do things that bring me joy. Creating holiday playlists, attending worship services via livestream, buying gifts, decorating my apartment, getting a little tree, enjoying my Advent calendar (with a little jar of jam each day), making hot cocoa with marshmallows at night—I am really trying to make the most of the season. It looks very different, but I am finding joy in the little things, practicing gratitude, and counting my blessings.
I am grateful to be sober, to have meaningful work at Shatterproof and I look forward to a brighter 2021 filled with hugs. But for now, one day at a time, I will be present. That is the only way I can live. All I have is today.
Holly Jespersen is Shatterproof's Senior Communications Manager.