Contentment. It is a simple enough word defined as a state of happiness or satisfaction. Today I would like to take the definition away from it and turn the word into a concept, an idea. In the not so distant past, contentment was a concept that seemed so far out of reach to me. I often found myself reaching, struggling and wandering unsatisfied searching for this idealistic feeling. Staying true to basic human nature, I wanted the here and now. Immediate gratification. I was chasing a concept that seemed to always be just out of reach for me. Essentially I drowned myself in alcohol, looking for what? A concept? A word? Satisfaction? The way that mainstream society thought I should feel? The search for contentment kept me running in circles chasing God only knows what.
Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s experience. It quite possibly could be pure exhaustion from chasing some foreign concept that others seemed to attain so effortlessly. Somewhere in the past year, something in me changed. A shift if you must. The concept of contentment turned into a feeling. If you were to ask me exactly when or how, I would not be able to accurately or convincingly answer. All I can say for sure is that there was growth in me. I decided to release the toxicity of the past. I forgave those in my life whom hadn’t even asked forgiveness in the first place. I allowed myself to truly feel for the first time in the two years since I put the bottle down. The release of negativity, the forgiveness of others and most importantly the forgiveness I found for myself opened up a flood of unfamiliar emotions. For the first time, in a very long time, I was experiencing sober feelings.
Allow me to visit sober feelings for a brief moment. Alcohol was part of my daily routine for so long that I forgot how to feel. My mind was reconditioned to stay set at a level of “numb.” I didn’t love. I didn’t feel pain, happiness, sadness, fear, anger, joy or any emotions at all. I had entire relationships without feeling a thing. It was nothing but dark. This darkness was an oddly comfortable place for me. In this darkness, without feeling, I was untouchable. Invincible. Leaving that place of darkness is terrifying. I imagine it is the same feeling of walking down a crowded street, stripped bare with all eyes focused solely on me. Every single imperfection and flaw magnified to unimaginable levels. So many times, I did not think that I would make it through to the other side of the darkness. Once I was able to emerge on the other side.. Wow. Every single feeling I had suppressed, every heartbreak, every betrayal and every single memory of what led me to the darkness in the first place all came rushing at me. All at once, full force and no mercy. Not one single forgiving second. It was all encompassing and so very real. Sober feelings are an entirely different animal. Rough. Ruthless. Honest. Deep. Rigid. Cutting. Unforgiving. Colorful, there was so much color, and true. I will never be able to put into words the swirl of emotions that I can now feel. These feelings can creep up, start in the mind, work their way to the heart and shake me to my very core. The good, the bad and everything in between.
Often I think about my journey and wonder why I was spared from the deadly grip of addiction. I can’t answer that precisely, but I can say that it was work. I wasn’t handed the proverbial “Easy” button, I stumbled, slipped and came close to falling so many times. I chose to never give up. I tell my story in hopes that someone, somewhere will read it and be inspired to take a personal inventory and choose life. If I reach just one person, then these words are not wasted.
I am nothing but thankful. Nothing but grateful. Evey morning I can’t help but look up and say “Thank You.” No matter what life throws at me, I am able to feel it, experience it and most importantly, I am able to live it. Every magical second of it.
Contentment. That word that I turned into a concept, has now become a feeling for me, a cornerstone. I have never felt so confident in myself. So completely independent and free. My life has taken me to some dark places, some I walked into willingly, others not at all, yet I am not broken. My spirit, my soul and finally my heart and mind are all on the same page in this chapter of my life. I don’t know who to thank universally for that, I do know that finally, I am able to thank myself. It is because of my strength and determination I am able to share this story. Contentment is such a neutral, generic emotion that often is mistook for settling. For me, it is the in between place between good and amazing. I am not going to settle for good and I may decide to bypass amazing altogether moving on to more impressive adjectives, but for now, I am so happy with content.