I bought two pairs of running shoes today. Why? To celebrate. Now you’re probably wondering how two pairs of shoes constitute a celebration.
Well, I’m one year sober today.
Approaching this day, I knew I needed to be vulnerable and write something, but I have also had a lot of fear as the day drew closer.
The thing is, I don’t fit the picture of an alcoholic that most people have in their mind, or at least what I had in mine. I’m young. I wasn’t drinking every day. I was capable of having one drink and calling it quits. I was successful.
I’m not going to go into detail, but behind every smile you may have seen on my face, there was pain waiting to be drowned in wine. Successes were celebrated with tequila. Happiness came with beer. Whiskey provided relief from this world.
Eventually, I lost touch with who I was, who I wanted to be. I was worshipping alcohol, craving the sweet, sweet burn of the next drop, the next night not remembered, the next emotion unfelt.
A year ago today, that came to an end. I knew I was using alcohol as a vice, but I always figured one more glass wouldn’t hurt. I knew I needed to stop drinking, but I didn’t want to let go.
What a lot of people don’t know is I was presented with an ultimatum. As I was pouring myself a glass of wine, I felt God so clearly lay on my heart, “It’s alcohol or me.”
Either God is everything, or he is nothing.
My last glass poured went down the sink drain.
I didn’t know what not drinking would look like. Frankly, I was scared. My life the past almost five years functioned around alcohol. How would I turn down a drink offered to me? What if people judge me? Well, so what. I knew this was a choice I needed to make and stick to.
The past year came with struggle. I still crave the rich flavor of red wine, the belief that everything will be better with one more glass. Wine has been offered to me and I have had to politely decline, wondering what aromatic flavors I’m missing.
There has also been the self-judgment, which has been prominent the past week. Am I really an alcoholic? How did this become my life? This isn’t who I wanted to be, but this is who I am.
And let’s not forget the enemy’s favorite weapon: shame.
I woke up this morning expecting to be excited that I made it a year without drinking, but instead I was overwhelmed with shame. “God, I know this isn’t what you meant for me. I feel like I’m honoring you in not drinking. Why do I feel this way?” I was brought to tears and very irritable from being overwhelmed with shame. How was I supposed to be excited for this day if it’s already starting so rough?
Fortunately, I was advised to celebrate. So then I brainstormed: how would I celebrate? A lot of people didn’t know I stopped drinking, so I knew I had to be vulnerable, especially for prayer to overcome this intense feeling of shame. So, that’s what I did, which was way out of my comfort zone.
Here comes the part with the shoes: I already knew I wanted two new pairs of running shoes to reward myself, but I didn’t have it in my mind to buy them today. I miraculously found some spare time, so I knew I needed to buy them today. Buying the shoes would be my celebration. I found myself at the store, and my friend happened to be working. I can’t even explain how excited I was to see her. She usually doesn’t work Sundays. I sat there while she was sizing my feet, telling her why I was buying these shoes today. Also, I was genuinely excited while telling her I reached one year of sobriety. The hour or so I was at the store was possibly the best hour of the day. I felt so much joy radiating from this friend of mine. My heart was happy. God knew I needed to be released from the shame, and he used her to bring me that taste of freedom.
You’re probably wondering, why two pairs? Honestly, I only have one simple answer: a pair for trail running and a pair for road running, and buying two pairs was a special treat to myself.
Here’s my last thought: maybe, just maybe, those shoes represent freedom. Running is my time to talk to God, to listen to what he has to say to me. It’s my time to be alone, to be myself, to be free.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2