Normally, this is a reflective time of year for people. Escaping the trials and tribulations of the past year, surviving the holiday insanity, and looking forward to the endeavors of this new year with hope and excitement.

Many know I am a recovering alcoholic and, for me, I have a double dose of reflection in the new year. Not only am I moving into a new exciting year in my life and in my business, but my sobriety birthday is the first week of each new year. The day that changed my life forever, the memory of the very moment I knew I could never be the same.

When I was newly sober it was impossible for me to articulate a feeling. Many people don’t realize that emotions are one of the greatest challenges for addicted people. Feelings are the reason I drank so much, so I didn’t have to feel them. Whether it was discomfort, confusion, boredom, happiness, disappointment, fear, pain… I would drink to numb those feelings. The side effect of that method is that we never learn how to cope. We never develop coping skills to get through those feelings to see that everything will be okay or to see that we have the strength to deal with life and all the things life throws at us.

When I got sober, I wasn’t able to identify a feeling, more or less talk about it. As I was trying to heal my wounds and quiet all of my demons, I felt so stupid because I didn’t even know how to talk about it. I was unable to form the most basic sentence to tell you how I felt or what I thought about any of it.

What I have grown to realize is, there was so much to unravel and there were so many parts and pieces of the puzzle, that I didn’t even understand it all to be able to talk about it. I didn’t know who I was as a person, as a woman, I didn’t know how to be in a clear state of mind. Lucky for me, I found just the right person to lead the way for me and to teach me how to become a functioning human and to guide me in the process of sorting out all the drama.

In the 12 step community we call it a sponsor, in my company I call it a coach, in other places you hear the word mentor- it’s all the same to me. The truth is, when you are ready to learn, the teacher will appear. It doesn’t matter what room I am standing in when it happens to give it the proper label. To me, this was the person that helped me change my life. He helped me understand my feelings and what they mean and where they come from. He accepted me for my flaws and what a crappy person I was and taught me not only how to be better, but gave me the strength to want to be better.

I remember listening so intently when people would share their stories and I was amazed at how raw and honest people were. And amazed that they understood it all so well.

Now, as I approach my 11th year of sobriety, I finally understand my truth. Finally, I have the ability to see my feelings, understand them, know where they come from, and speak openly about them with humor.

I will say, it is the greatest accomplishment of my past year. To see so clearly who I was, who I am now, and who I want to continue growing into. I spent so many years of my life in a fog, in a compromised state of mind, barely going through the motions, waiting for the day that I drank so much I just didn’t wake up. Honestly, I prayed for the day I wouldn’t wake up because the pain of my life was so unbearable. And everyday that I woke up, that pain was so overwhelming I had to drink just to survive it.

And now, as I continue to be a student, I also get to be a teacher. I could never be more grateful for anything in this world than my sobriety and all of the magic it has brought me. It introduced me to life, to strength, to courage, and love.

January 7, 2006 was the first day of the rest of my life.