Welcome to the new year. Where somehow everything that has happened in the last 365 days is magically wiped clean, you get a metaphorical “redo.” The concept of restarting seems to go hand-in-hand with a new year. But what if I want to hold onto the last 365 days? What if I want to continue carrying the pieces that have been difficult with me?
Our brains are trained to believe that starting over is equivalent to failure. Over the past year, I’ve been faced with the challenge of shaking that particular perception that’s become so subconsciously woven into my everyday thinking. I’ve struggled with alcohol abuse for several years, only recently realizing sobriety is my only option in living a healthy life. But that realization did not come easily, it’s a realization I had been fighting off as hard as possible. I think I was less afraid of being sober, and more afraid of the feeling of failure that can come along with relapse. For the majority of 2018, I worked on taking my sobriety one day at a time. Trying my best not to look ahead, not to discount the effort I was putting into being sober.
I’m just barely a year sober now. It’s still hard to use the word “sober” in my day-to-day conversations. It makes it feel like there is no going back on this journey. And while that is the hope—that I will stay sober for the rest of my life—I’m not allowing myself to feel the pressure that holds. It took multiple “clean slates” and “restarts” to get here, and who knows, it may take a few more. It has all been a process of accepting the fact that starting over does not equal defeat. My ability and desire to try again is proof enough that I have it in me to be stronger than my hardest days.
I think we can brand the new year as a time to start over, but I don’t think we necessarily have to lose sight of all the times we have tried. I have a whole new year to build on what the past year of sobriety has taught me. I want to keep those difficult moments that have shown me what it’s like to try again, close. I’m not going to let go of what has happened in order to get me to this point. And regardless of what occurs tomorrow, months from now, or next year: no one can take away my last 365 days.
The ball has dropped, and the holiday festivities are coming to a close, but not everything is lost.