It's David's 10th Soberversary
It’s my husband and business partner David’s 10th Birthday or as we prefer to call it 10th Soberversary. 10 years in recovery from alcohol dependency is massive. We place more value on this occasion than his actual birthday. In the lead up to this milestone David acknowledged paying more mind to it than other years. This was no surprise and a reminder of the power of addiction. Also the pandemic has triggered self reflection and evaluation in many of us. The first year is a big one but to some degree you are still in it, negotiating a sober life, managing the impact of previous behaviours in addiction and coming to terms with this.
We celebrate not only because of the amazing achievement but also in the knowledge that this story could have had a very different ending.
The pandemic has proved helpful for some and enabled them to focus on their recovery, however, some weren’t so fortunate and lost their lives to addiction over the past year. No-one aspires to have a problem with alcohol or drugs, it sneaks up and a line is crossed. Good people sometimes make bad choices. Sometimes it’s about lacking the tools or self belief that change is achievable. Sometimes the inner voice encouraging drinking or taking drugs is the loudest. Sometimes the damage to health caused by years of drinking or drug use takes its toll.
For many dry January or Stoptober is a challenge, so are blown away by David having ten years without so much as a whiff of the barman’s pinny. Being reliant on alcohol is very different to being a person who drinks, relationships with alcohol are complicated. I’m not necessarily talking about fully blown physical addiction. Psychological dependency is what pulls people back in or keeps them stuck. David used a variety of therapies, treatments and approaches before achieving prolonged sober time, it is a process which continues. We also realise that the biggest enemy of recovery is complacency. That is not to say our lives are spent with an ominous cloud hanging over us. David is the first to say his recovery comes first because without it he would have nothing else. However equally he finds that with the passage of time, it is no longer at the forefront, new ways of living and being become the norm. David is careful about people and places who may not necessarily trigger relapse but hold unhelpful associations with alcohol. It certainly is a mindful existence, which is no bad thing.
For some there are feelings of shame attached to celebrating a sober birthday as it outs the person as having had a problem with alcohol. David is open about his recovery but equally has no inclination to revisit and recount war stories from the dark days of addiction. He is not defined by his drinking past or his recovery but sobriety has given him a life that he once couldn’t have imagined.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. David made some courageous decisions when he achieved stability in recovery in choosing not to return to a financially lucrative career instead retraining for one that nurtured his soul and gave him a sense of purpose. David is not evangelical about recovery, neither is he the booze police. He does have a strenuous belief in the ability in others to recover from dependency and has walked alongside many to support them to escape drug and alcohol use. I find that pretty impressive.
We celebrate David’s soberversary every year. This is not just David’s celebration but a celebration for all of us who know and care for him. It’s an opportunity for thankfulness. The gains associated with recovery aren’t restricted to David, many of us have better, happier lives for him being who he is today.
There is always cake but this year the cake stakes were higher much to David’s delight. The wonderfully generous gifts, cards and congratulatory messages of support were overwhelming to David. Maybe if everyone took the time to devote a day to celebrate and acknowledge how far we have come, our emotional and mental health would be boosted no end.