How Living In The Present Is Giving Me A Future

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been living in the future. A fantasy future. Acting as if the life I imagine I deserve will magically appear if I pretend I already have it. I don’t remember when I started living this way. College, maybe? Tail end of high school? It’s bitten me in the ass more times than I want to admit.

I did things like buy the skinny clothes I pictured myself looking incredible in when I lost weight. As if hanging the clothes in my closet would make the process of shedding the pounds any easier.

I did things like slapping large and unnecessary purchases on credit cards assuming I would find a way to afford them before too much time passed. Adding another minimum monthly payment to a long list of expenses my income couldn’t afford.

Only in sobriety have I learned how unhealthy and destructive all this was. How the only way to live is in the present. One day at a time. Focused on doing the next right thing. But, sometimes I forget.

Earlier this year, I was energizing a lot of lack. More than a lot. I was burrowed deep in ALL the lack. And I had no idea how to get out. Shift the energy. Find my power again the way I had in early sobriety.

Lack of clients. Lack of money. Lack of a canine companion. Lack of a healthy, thin, strong body. Lack of motivation. Lack of desire. Lack of all the things that would make my life ideal. And a whole freaking surplus of want. It wasn’t just want. It was why can’t I have these things. I must not deserve them. How can I not deserve them when I’ve worked so goddamn hard to get and stay sober. To be everything to everyone. All the time.

What I was (and have always been) blind to is the reality that I already have my ideal life. And, I had to go within. I had to recommit to and double down on self care. Reassess my tools. Rediscover what makes me feel powerful and loved and worthy. And realize I am right where I am supposed to be.

This is why it’s called recovery. Because it’s about more than not drinking. At least for me.

I have always tried to find ways to spend money I don’t have and wear clothes I wished I could fit into. Because, I finally realize, if I could do these things that would mean I was good enough. I had arrived. I was successful. I was special. I was normal. I was to be valued and loved. I spent so many years looking to money and clothes just as I did booze … to deliver something I deemed missing, to make me someone I thought I had to be.

And where did I land? Addicted to sugar and comfort food. And plagued by more bills than I could afford to pay.

Luckily, today I have expanded my recovery beyond alcohol. It now includes food and money. Both of these additions are new this year. Within the past three months. But, I finally get it. I really get it. I am so committed to freeing myself from the stranglehold they’ve had on me, it’s scary. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself. Because this person I have become is too good to be true. Better than she appeared in my wildest dreams. Those dreams I never knew how to turn into reality.

Today, a dream came true. There is an outfit I bought for a special occasion back in 2001. An outfit I was going to have to starve myself to fit into. A special occasion that got canceled. An outfit that was never worn. And remained in my closet with the tags on for the next 15 years. Slacks: $78. Top: Also $78. Timeless, classic pieces for any summer occasion. Just hanging there, waiting for my life to magically transform into the one I imagined. Until I folded and boxed it a year ago to free up space for bigger, bulky winter clothes.

I’d forgotten all about that outfit until my cousin, who read my Instagram post about shrinking out of all my clothes, even the smallest ones I own, asked me if it fit. I couldn’t remember where it was and had the strangest thought that I’d gotten rid of it. “Eh, I’m not that small yet anyway,” I thought. “Probably never will be.”

Earlier today, while packing away summer clothes, I found it. For a chuckle, I decided I would attempt to get it on and text my cousin the most hilarious photo of how overweight I still am. Except … the zippers? They zipped. All the way. Without me holding my breath.

And, for a moment I lost my breath anyway. I started to laugh. Then cry. Then silence.

And, I realized … I’m here. I’ve made it. I turn 46 this week. And, I think I may have finally figured out some of this shit.

In my delusional state, I’m telling myself to keep the outfit, have it taken in next spring, and rock it like the sober middle-aged married mom of two I am next summer. But, friends, be honest. Is it too outdated?

5 comments

  1. “Lack of clients. Lack of money. Lack of a canine companion. Lack of a healthy, thin, strong body. Lack of motivation. Lack of desire. Lack of all the things that would make my life ideal. And a whole freaking surplus of want. It wasn’t just want. It was why can’t I have these things. I must not deserve them. How can I not deserve them when I’ve worked so goddamn hard to get and stay sober. To be everything to everyone. All the time.”

    I broke down crying at this part. How is it possible that you wrote something that is exactly what I needed to read today? I’ve been in this exact spiral lately. It’s so frustrating, and I have really been hitting a mental block every time I try to break out of it. This really helped me so much. Thank you!

    And the outfit looks great. <3

    1. Oh my gosh, Ashley. Isn’t it the worst!? It took me a long time to break free from it. I couldn’t write either. Once I started energizing what I have, it all changed. I think we are still so used to suffering that it’s easy to go there – even though it sucks, it can be comfortable because we know what to expect and we’re good at it. I’m so glad this resonated. And, thanks, for the compliment – I might just keep the outfit! XOXO

    2. “How is it possible that you wrote something that is exactly what I needed to read today? I’ve been in this exact spiral lately. It’s so frustrating, and I have really been hitting a mental block every time I try to break out of it.”

      I had the exact same response! My financial situation is worse now than it ever was when I was blowing all my money on booze, cigarettes and drugs…I am working on it too – some massive money resistance issues have emerged where alcohol addiction used to live I think – almost as if i am scared that if i have money I will spend it on booze!

      Always a work in progress…every step of self discovery and moving beyond an old limit is a step in the right direction!

      Thank you for this post Laura….you have given me hope that Ican get through this!

  2. This is totally me…lack of all the things. How did you pull yourself out of this? I’ve been struggling with this most of my adult life. It has caused depression and horrendous anxiety. Ugh 😑Any advice you have would be incredibly appreciated.

    1. Hey, Linda! I had help. I worked with wellness coach Ellen Palmer (http://ellenpalmerwellness.com/). She helped me identify the things I was giving my energy to and introduced me to tools I can use in my daily life to remain present, focused on what I have, and living intentionally. She and I had done some of this work when I first got sober, but after two plus years, I needed to take things to the next level. It’s a process for sure. There is not overnight success. For me, it had to start with loving myself and taking proper care of myself.

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