Real Life Mama: Celebrating all the sober freedoms

As Independence Day approached this week, I started thinking about freedom and what that entails. This month, Lee and I will hit 18 months sober. And I couldn’t think of anything better to write about than the beautiful sober freedoms that we have encountered over the past year and a half.

Morning freedom – probably my most favorite part. This is kind of a two for one – free from hangovers and free to actually enjoy all aspects of the morning. No longer do I have mornings where I wake up feeling so incredibly thirsty – like if I do not get some water I may not survive. Or that I need grease or something filling like bread just to soak everything up in my stomach – or at least allow for something in my belly so I can take some pain meds for my head.

And since I don’t wake up feeling like crap, I get to enjoy the mornings – the stillness and peace of it. The time when no one else is awake and I am free to dive into devotionals and really spend time with God. The sun isn’t too bright for my eyes – it’s actually beautiful as it lights up the sky around me. Hearing the birds sing their melodies brings me joy all around.

And I am free from so much anxiety. No longer do I need to worry about actions or words that may have slipped out unintentionally. I don’t sit and dwell on a situation and create worst case scenarios until I cannot tell if it is the alcohol making my tummy sick or the anxiety. I am free from worrying about who I am because I have only been who I want to be.

And I am free from spending countless dollars on drinks that make me wake up feeling like that. On top of that, I don’t spend money on rides because I can drive now. I don’t have to wait on someone to come get me or make plans on who will not drink and be the driver. I am sober, I will drive. And I will leave whenever I want to.

But mostly, I am free to enjoy life – every single second of it. At one point, planning when my next drink would be took over my mind. It was like I needed to get through all of the fun things in my life to get to that one thing that was bringing the doom and gloom. Dinner or bedtime stories or even sports were all just getting in the way of when I could crack one.

Sure, I was still there for all of those things – but in my head, I was planning what would come next – once the sober events were over and my babies were asleep. But now, those are the very things that I look forward to. Free to linger in cuddles at bedtime because I don’t have an ache to get up and go to the fridge. Or head out to the field after a game for some extra batting practice because I don’t need to get home right away and fill up my cup.

And that is a freedom that I almost missed if I didn’t look for it. You see, it’s like a cold. You don’t realize how amazing it is to be healthy until you are a snotty mess and hacking up a lung for a week straight. But when you don’t have a cold, you don’t think about how you don’t have a cold. You don’t even realize your freedom from the cold – the cold is just not there anymore. It doesn’t enter your mind that you don’t have it.

That’s the freedom that sobriety brings – you just wake up one day and realize that it has been weeks – maybe even months since you thought about even having a drink. That unwelcome desire is just gone. You are free.

Free to see the beauty of sunsets and stars, feel the grass beneath your toes, smell the fresh scent of flowers and the growing of nature after the rain, taste the chocolate of ice cream and Reese cups (okay, maybe that is just me ha) and fully take in moments that are becoming memories. Moments that were always there but never properly soaked in.

Free to chase after new beautiful desires like napping and diving into God’s word. And free to put in the effortless work of being a better Mama, friend, wife, sister and coworker.

July 4th, 1776 was a day of freedom for us all – and one that I am extremely thankful for. January 16th 2023 is another day of freedom for me – one where I freed myself from alcohol and started actually living free.

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.