Ever since I can remember, I have sought out special places I can retreat to when I need to find peace. Those places have always be associated with water. The saltier the better.
In early sobriety, those places became exponentially more important to me. Without booze as my “come up for air at the end of the day” crutch, I had to seek those deep cleansing breaths in other ways. I worked hard to identify and use different tools. I would go for a walk outside, take a drive, pour iced tea into my wine glass, read a magazine. No matter what it was, location was key. I felt like I physically had to be in a certain place. It had to at least be outdoors. By water, if possible.
Seeking out those places became my alternative to grabbing for booze. I got good at it, carving out time nearly every day to do something. I got used to it. Even though I was doing more than my fair share of soul searching and looking within, I still turned to exterior forces to fuel me.
And, for a while now, it has seemed when I can’t find time to go somewhere to find a peaceful moment or take a breath, I start to unravel.
Lately, a whirlwind of variables has swirled away most chances to “escape” to my usual breathing places and I’ve felt stuck, caught up in chaos. I’ve repeatedly said things like, “If I don’t come up for air soon, I’m not going to survive” and “I can’t breathe.”
Yet, somehow, I found ways to harness peaceful moments, take deep breaths, be present, and put my head in a happier place when situations around me were everything but happy. I’m not sure I realized what I was doing. I truly just thought I was surviving a rough patch.
Until yesterday when I saw this Instagram post by the incredible Laura McKowen.
View this post on Instagram
Tired but present. Remembering to breathe into all the moments, especially the in-between ones where I'm waiting for the next thing. Soon @hipsobriety arrives and we're meeting up with people, and the momentum begins again. Missing my daughter incredibly. Remembering the Pema Chodron quote, "In truth, there is enormous space in which to live our every day lives." It has taken me so long to find that space — it is on the inside and always available. #breathe
I commented to her: “I love this. I have never thought about it this way – that breathing room we keep looking for everywhere around us is really right inside us. I’m starting to see this more and more – finding peaceful moments no matter where I am physically vs. seeking out destination-based peace – but, I hadn’t truly identified it …”
This realization is a game changer for me. It’s so simple. And at the same time, so complex. Everything we need is within us. We take it with us wherever we go.
Also published on Medium.