I rarely think about my sobriety in terms of years. For me, celebrating 25 years of sobriety is about reflecting back on “trying to do the next right thing” for the past 9,125 days or, more honestly, for the past 219,000 hours. It also means staying humble and grateful that, with the help of countless people, I’ve been able to get back up the same number of times I’ve fallen down. And I fall a lot.
The biggest learnings from the past 25 years are twofold:
1. Own the stories and the hard shit, or the stories you’re trying to outrun and the pain you’re denying will own you. The truth will set you free. It will kick your ass first, but then it will set you free.
2. We don’t have to do the hard stuff alone. We weren’t meant to. We heal in connection. This is why it pisses me off when people shove my work into the self-help category.
The gifts that have accompanied my daily and sometimes hourly decision to feel instead of numb have been too many to name, but the one that I rarely talk about is how my sobriety has affected my level of self-trust.
I write a lot about trust as a marble jar. We build trust like we collect marbles – one small gesture at a time. It’s not a big, sweeping act or a single gesture in a stressful moment. Trust is a collection of small moments.
We talk about trust between people and groups, but we often forget about self-trust. Self-trust is normally the first casualty of failure or mistakes. We stop trusting ourselves when we hurt, get hurt, feel shame, or question our worth.
Here’s how we use the BRAVING tool to think about self-trust:
B – Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay?
R – Was I reliable? Did I do what I said I was going to do?
A – Did I hold myself accountable?
V – Did I respect the vault and share appropriately?
I – Did I act from my integrity?
N- Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?
G – Was I generous toward myself?
Today, I’m putting 25 marbles in my self-trust jar. One for every year of my messy, hard af, wonderful, wholehearted, imperfect, sober life.