Real Life Mama: Celebrating 500 days

Five hundred days. That’s how long it has been since I have had a sip of alcohol. Five hundred nights in a row I went to bed sober and 500 mornings in a row I woke up refreshed and clear-headed ready to take on the day.

Maybe that seems like a lot and maybe that seems like a little. I am not actually sure which one it feels like to me yet. Some days, I completely forget about it – like it never crosses my mind that I haven’t drunk in months — because I don’t have any desire to. Other days, fewer and farther between, I get that urge of missing out on something I was looking forward to.

I don’t really know how else to explain that. It’s like, my plans used to revolve around eventually making it to the fridge to grab a drink — so I had something to “look forward to.” And while most of the time now I just look forward to, you know, actually living, sometimes that lack of a feeling of a future fill-up leaves me feeling a little like I forgot about something fun.

But, that’s the thing. It wasn’t fun. Sure, there were times when I thought alcohol was bringing the fun, but it wasn’t the alcohol bringing it. If anything, alcohol brought the headaches and anxiety the next morning. The guilt of not wanting to drink anymore and wanting to be better and the letdown of not being strong enough to just stop.

It is still so crazy to me that I could want to do something that made me feel like that – that I actually looked forward to it! Talk about insane! But it is a real thing with alcohol – and it took time and repetition to change it. Most importantly, it took reminding myself about all the things that I was overlooking – the things that are way better — that I get to look forward to now.

Like feeling – really feeling – not just being a spectator in my own life long enough to run away from it, but taking the time to sit with all the beauty of emotions that life has to offer. Look, sometimes those feelings are super sad or angry. Those are feelings too – but they aren’t just bottled up to not be felt. They are examined and shared and prayed for.

But the real feelings – the ones that getting buried on accident with alcohol – those are the ones worth living for. My daughter snuggling up with me and soaking in every second of the flutter of happiness that radiates from the comfort of cuddles. Listening to my kiddos belt out a song – right lyrics or wrong – but hearing their passion for the music and joining in with them.

Watching my kids learn new things – at home, in school, on the field or court or in the pool. Just being completely present as they grow and completely in tune to advancements that they make. And not just the noticing things with my kids, although that has been an amazing part, but noticing things around me that bring me joy that I never even feel like I saw before.

Like birds. I like birds. Ha, who knew? I love to fill up a feeder and watch them all come together. The girls and I will call out different ones and watch them soar across the backyard, or I will sit peacefully outside and listen to their beautiful song – a song that has been there forever, I just never took the time to listen to.

And drinks – I have explored so many fun waters and I look forward to them! Not like, “this is actually gross, but I can catch a buzz.” There is no catch anymore. I drink things that taste good! That sounds dumb, I am sure, but y’all most alcoholic drinks really taste gross. They are actually poison and well, they taste as such.

But I think of all the things I look forward to, my most favorite is love – loving and being loved. I didn’t like myself when I drank – and I didn’t feel lovable. I surely didn’t feel like I could give love either. And while, yes I have loved my whole life, I have never felt love the way I do now.

I am positive that, on top of being sober, finding God’s true love has aided exponentially in this as well. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing it feels to not only accept that I am and can be loved, but to so freely give love out as well. Once I started pouring out the love, I started to see how much love there is out there.

So, that’s what I have learned in 500 days – that there’s so much more out there than what alcohol has to offer. And that’s what I will keep looking forward to – snuggles, birds, flavored water, all the feelings, all the emotions and all of the love.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mom and bonus mom. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Lee Parsons, and their seven kids.