I heard these two words together last night at an Al-anon meeting. I heard bells and whistles! Over the years I have heard so many words and combinations of words related to mental health, and I have listened to words of theory and therapy, and nothing connected so well as those. I heard more words in school, the doctor’s offices, in psych wards, in hospitals, in court, the state mental hospital, and from people with endless alphabets after their name but those two words make sense.
Sitting across the desk from so many of those people felt like I was a disgusting criminal. Some of my family members looked at me with disgust and said things so unpure I began to feel the same way about myself. The scars on my arms, wrists, legs, and breasts remind me of the depth of my feelings. The nights that I shot alcohol into my veins were cuts that I could keep invisible from the eyes that judged me. I couldn’t stop the suicide attempts from the deep dark hole in which I lay. I could only hear the cries of my baby.
Emotional sobriety makes sense to me because of one of those people who sat in judgment of my illness had an illness himself. He was an alcoholic. I use the word “was” because he died. There is no cure for alcoholism. There is sobriety. I understand that. Sobriety for him was healthy functioning. Sobriety for me is also healthy functioning. His drug of choice was a substance that he chose to relieve his pain. I couldn’t buy the drugs that have me in its grips but it is a drug. It is a chemical compound in my brain. Those are the chemicals that I detox from because they are emotions in depression and anxiety and a host of other mental illnesses.
I stand true to my choice to live in this time in my reality of sobriety. That makes more sense to me than all of the words spoken on my behalf.
“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”