Happy "NO" Year
Here I stand on the edge of 2016 peering endlessly into the fog-covered realm of 2017. There is a sense of trepidation I am feeling. I would be lying if I wasn’t a little hesitant on making the actual leap. I, of course, will have no choice come the stroke of midnight to join the rest of the human race as we welcome in another new year. As the course of the universe goes, I will leap with all the rest of my friends into the dawn of a new beginning. At the stroke of midnight this New Year’s Eve I will stand sober – shoulder-to-shoulder with so many of my recovery warriors. We will raise glasses filled with sparkling cider, throw confetti, and hug and kiss each other as we welcome in 2017. The room will fill with a chorus of “Happy New Year” but somewhere in the midst of the crowd there will be one who marches to her own drummer and you will be able to hear, “Happy NO Year”.
Let me explain. Many of us will have New Year’s resolutions. We will make them with exact resolution to keep steadfast to them. We, in one way or another, will strive to become better people than we were the year before. We each will have our own personal reasons for making our resolutions and I am no different. I have put much thought into what a resolution means to me.
This last year was fraught with many dark clouds filled with loss and pain. It was hard to see beyond the windshield wipers most days. Somehow I arrived here, at the edge of 2016 and I am still in one piece and sober. I do not question the journey it took to get here, but I am now questioning the unknown frontier ahead of me. I have had to work through a ton of painful fear inventories this year and somehow I still stand uncertain and still shaky.
Through the loss of both of my parents, my beloved dog, and watching so many people I love losing those that they loved, could I be blamed for having fear? I gave myself permission to feel and then I set about the work it took to start to move beyond it. I am by no means beyond it completely yet. I won’t lie. This last year has taken its toll on me not only mentally and financially, but I am now to discover that it has worked its way into health concerns.
I discovered along the way that I had picked up where my father had left off, the one I deemed “King Al anon”. I have determined that my father, who suffered needlessly with his chemically sick children, inevitably died of a broken heart. I have watched those I know die from the disease of alcoholism and addiction. I have now also witnessed the tragedy of an Al anon death. I believe you can honestly die from the disease of Al anon if left untreated. I watched it.
Now, all these months later, after taking on my mother until her death, still dealing with probate and the legal issues of my parents, organizing both funerals, working, and helping my own children through their trials and tribulations, I have become sick. Mine is not in my heart – yet. It is in my liver. The liver that I thought I had destroyed with all those years of abuse, was actually in pristine condition when I quit. It has happened since I put the bottle down. How could that be? How could I have done the damage of years of abuse to my poor liver in only 6 short sober years? It wasn’t fair and didn’t make sense.
But it did. I have been an untreated Al anon my entire life. I took up the bottle to try to control something in my life until it took control of me. Now, I am just a dry Al anon. I am left without the solution of alcohol and drugs to solve my problems. Now, I am a sober co-dependent. I also have to admit, that I am just now getting back into our sister program Al anon after a couple years of sporadic attendance. I am left with no other choice. Either I find a solution or continue on blotting out my very existence one day at a time. I will die from alcoholism/addiction if I ever use again. I will also die from the disease of Al anon if I don’t find a way not to. This was a truth my doctor told me. She called it, “slow suicide”.
My liver is not able to handle my toxic thoughts, emotions, feelings, or the stress hormones that I inject on it mercilessly day in and day out. My filtration system isn’t able to handle the assault my own body and mind is attacking it with. I do not sleep right with all my stressful thoughts. I do not eat right as I forget (too much other things to be concerned with). I do not have time to exercise the way I once did worrying about everyone and everything else. My entire physical outlook is glum – and it just happened over night.
I crossed the invisible line. I cannot go back. I am and will forever be an Al anon. This disease may be more deadly for me than any other addiction I have struggled with. So, am adamantly working with my Al anon sponsor, who is also a fabulous life coach. I am in the literature and in meetings. I am doing my step work. I do not want to die. This is my truth.
So what is it that I making a resolution to do this year? I am making a resolution to put me first for once in my life, in a healthy way. I know that to some that may sound asinine but for me it is critical. I do not want to die my father’s death. I do not also want to ever believe that a drink is the only other option I’m left with.
This year will the year of “NO” for me. “NO” is a complete sentence my Al anon sponsor says. This year I will be saying “NO” until I am at a point that I can say “YES” to those things that I want to say “YES” to. So, I imagine that for awhile I will be saying “NO” quite often. This will be like not drinking for me. Nearly impossible without the help of a higher power and my Al anon buddies. Luckily, I have a strong support community that surrounds me.
I will be saying “NO” to babysitting when I am tired. I will be saying “NO” to paying bills that adults can pay themselves. I will be saying “NO” to job promotions. I will be saying “NO” to having people over late when I am really tired. I will say “NO” to being on-call for everyone else but me. This scares the hell out of me.
So, I will need some accountability. My New Year’s resolution is not one I can do alone. I want to say I can but it would not be fair. So, I am going to ask for those of you who choose to join me, to come along and help me to become “NO” proficient.
This January I am going to do a 30-day “YES” fast. Each day on each of my social media accounts I am going to take the power out of the word “NO” by sharing with you what I said “NO” to that day. I will be required to say “NO” at least once a day, no matter how small or large it is. Those of you who want to help me along the way are welcome to take part in the 30-day “YES” fast with me and share with all of us what you were able to say “NO” to as well.
If you believe that you too are struggling with being a “YES” person, if you believe that you may be an Al anon, or if you believe that you have made everyone else more important than you, then now is your chance to practice with me the art of saying “NO” by joining the “YES” fast.
I am scared as all heck. I believe though with the love and support of my recovery community, my beloved friends, and adoring family I will be able to make the decision to take my life back. I will make it back from the depths of despair and heal my body and soul. Love will prevail.
So, today I embark on perhaps one of the scariest journeys I have ever began. I want me back. I want to be free of addiction of any kind. I want to live today. I want to be here for years and years telling stories and mixing with all my wonderful recovery friends and family. So to all of you I am wishing you a very Happy NO Year! May light and love surround all of you this next year.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
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