Gratitude Letter #9
For Helping Me Take the First Step.
I’ve written about you often. In fact, you’ve inspired much of my writing over this past year. This could be a gratitude letter for helping me re-kindle my love affair with words. Or for giving me so much content to share online. Or for breaking my world apart so thoroughly that I had no choice to rebuild it completely, and then blog about it. But it’s not. (Thanks anyway, I know you weren’t always happy with what I wrote, how I portrayed you.)
Meeting you, loving you, losing you — all of that changed me, my life, my future. But I don’t want to rehash that, here. This, this is a gratitude letter. A letter of nothing but pure and honest thanks for giving me something so amazing. I do honestly believe that the universe put us on a collision course to meet and fall into a whirlwind romance, setting us on a crazy/amazing spiral that was bound to implode. I believe we were sent to each other to teach one another valuable lessons. I know I’ve learned so much from you, and for that, I am eternally grateful and will always have love for you. When I think of you, which is still often, I send you nothing but love and light.
So, here it goes.
Today I celebrate my second full year of sobriety. I refuse to credit you — or anyone else — with this amazing accomplishment, because I did this, every day I decided not to drink, every time I didn’t cave to peer pressure, each time I decided to face things/emotions/problems head on. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that you — and many others — played an integral part in my sobriety. And I know that you were the one who got the ball rolling on this journey. So for you, I offer thanks today, on my second anniversary of sobriety.
I don’t think I ever would have stopped drinking if it weren’t for you. For years, I wanted to stop. Wanted to end the cycle of low self-esteem, broken feelings and hazy memories. However, I could never summon the courage to actually do so until I met you. Knowing our relationship would not (could not) withstand the drunken insults and my bad behavior, I challenged myself to stop drinking.
When I first stopped, many people told me, “You can’t stop drinking for him.”
This annoyed me, because I felt they were doubting our relationship and second guessing my ability to go for a year without drinking. It also annoyed me because I was having those same thoughts. Also, it annoyed me because I was doing it for you. For us. I didn’t want to lose you — to lose us. I wanted us to work so badly. [I see the irony in this, now, that I stopped drinking, but lost you.] But what I’ve gained, in these two years since losing two great comforts: alcohol and you; far outweighs anything I’ve lost.
A friend recently asked me: “Don’t you ever miss it? Don’t you ever want to just go out with your friends and have fun and get drunk?”
My response, quick and honest, was no. No one calls and invites me to do things on weekend nights, but that’s OK, I replied. It’s been so long since I had a hangover. Longer still since I had to wake up wondering what I did, regretted something I have no memory of, or worried what may have transpired. I’ve leared to cope with emotions and situations in a healthy way. I feel healthy and secure. I go to bed early and wake up early. Every day. And I’m happy. God, when I was drinking, I can’t remember being happy. I can’t remember a lot.
I refuse to credit you — or anyone else — with this amazing accomplishment, because I did this. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that you played an integral part in my sobriety. So for you, I offer thanks today, on my second anniversary of sobriety.
You asked me, not long after we broke up, if I was still not drinking. (The last time we spoke, you asked me again.) Drinking hadn’t even occured to me, and I realized, then, that my sobriety was no longer about you — it was about me. I wasn’t just not drinking for you, to keep you happy — I was not drinking to keep myself sane and alive. In all the shittiness that was that period of my life, that was a pretty good feeling.
And today, two years sober, it’s still a pretty fucking good feeling. I’ve written this letter in my head several times, and every time I cry. Not because I’m sad about you anymore, but because I am so proud of myself and the life I’ve created. In the beginning of our relationship, you saw things in me that I couldn’t; believed in me in ways that I never did. Until now. And I thank you for that — and for pushing me — even if you still doubted if I could succeed — to be the person that I’ve become.
Getting sober was step one, and you challenged me to take that step. I’ll never forget that.
Thank you, Ryan.
p.s. Happy Birthday ya old man.