Well, my “Month of Yes” is wrapping up. I spent a month (yeah, I chose the month of February, which is the shortest one- don’t judge) saying yes to opportunities that presented themselves to me.
This was important, because in my natural state, I am a hermit. Socially awkward and full of anxiety, I generally hate leaving my house or talking to people I don’t know. I hate crowds, and prefer to chat online, and not in person.
Before I stopped drinking, I was a hermit because I needed a safe place to hide out and pour vodka down my throat. After I stopped drinking I stayed a hermit, because I had no clue how to be around my fellow humans without feeling extremely uncomfortable- especially without the crutch of alcohol to lean on.
Nothing I’ve accomplished this month would be considered earth shattering to anyone but me. I did not save anyone’s life, I did not travel to great places unknown.
Here are some highlights:
I went to a Superbowl party that was filled with people I don’t know, that had plenty of alcohol on hand. I did it sober, and for the most part, I really enjoyed myself. I did get a little nervous when the host tried to get me to eat, because doing so required me to walk to the buffet table in front of everyone. They’d already eaten by the time I got there, so this was a scary proposition.
I did leave the party a few minutes before the game ended, but I’m glad I went. I proved that I can do it.
I ran errands with my husband, getting some stuff done at the bank that needed to get done- the kind of thing I otherwise would have blown off and suffered the consequences of later.
This probably seems completely inconsequential to those who don’t know me. Those that do know me realize the notion of me being a big girl and handling my personal responsibilities is a thing I historically could not always be counted on to do.
I will go to work every day, even when I’m dead. Running errands, paying bills and grocery shopping? Eh, not so much. This was a win for me.
I finally went to the doctor and got the blood work done that I’d been putting off for more than five years. Rather than let my fear of the unknown continue to rule me, I decided to be an adult and stand up, doing what needed to be done.
Dinner and a Movie Date Night:
I went to dinner and a movie with my husband. Historically, he’s spent a lot of time trying to get me out of the house for date night, and usually I have an excuse not to go. This night, I banished those thoughts, went out and had fun.
I went to a Jazz Gallery full of people I don’t know, and sat at a reserved table in the front row, sober the entire time. I didn’t get up and run from the room, even when it was obvious that I was the only one in the entire establishment that didn’t know certain songs the band was performing. In my mind, the fact that I don’t know those songs made it very clear to everyone there that I do not have the cultural knowledge that’s required to be a card-carrying Black Woman.
Interestingly, as a sober observer for once, it looked to me like absolutely no one cared about that kind of thing but me, and that the people in attendance at the club were focused solely on having a good time.
I also didn’t run screaming when the entire room got up and danced while I cowered in my chair- again in the front row- afraid that the “white side” of me was a little too obvious in this venue, because I cannot dance. I was afraid the entire time. Afraid that I was going to be called out for being the odd one in the room.
I faced my fears, though. I did not run. I stayed the entire time, and I did not drink.
These aren’t the only things I managed to accomplish throughout the month. My willpower grew, my confidence grew, and so did my strength. Even bigger, my relationship with myself improved.
I am kinder to myself.
I have a better understanding of why I was the person I used to be, of why I am the person I am, and of who I want to become.
I am closer than I’ve ever been to finally being able to offer myself blanket forgiveness for the mistakes of my past- for the instances of bad judgment, for the bad behavior, for the myriad mistakes I made.
Through all the fog, I can finally see the good, not just the bad:
I’m the mother of two wildly successful, well adjusted, happy girls- two beautiful Black-Women-In-Training. One is getting ready to go to college in a little over a year, who has straight As and a solid grasp on who she is. The other, while younger, is accomplishing great things too, is kind, brilliant, and makes me laugh every single day. I had a hand in molding them, and they fill me with pride.
I have a very close and honest relationship with my parents. I had to work hard at the “honest” part, but it has paid off. I make them proud, even when I have to tell them the truth about human mistakes I make, and I’m starting to realize why.
I have a solid and happy marriage. One that allows me to put to use many of the lessons I learned from relationships- and yes, even a failed marriage- past. I can look at the failed marriage and concentrate on what I learned, not on the failure I felt as it was crumbling.
I have a great job with a great company that’s the leader in my industry. I proudly shoulder much of the financial responsibility for my household, and I am entrusted to do what I do best- show up and get the job done, no matter what. I value the fact that I possess the skills that allow me to work with the best of the best.
I realize now that I bring something unique to the table, and that’s because of my past, not in spite of it. I have a college education, but I also have real-world experience, the kind of experience one can only gain by having done the work and paying the dues for years on end. I climbed up to where I am- I did not land here.
Finally, I have great friends, and a great support system. I am celebrated for making the changes I’ve made, not ostracized as so many others in my situation find themselves. When I lack the strength to do the right thing, they don’t mind using their strength to carry me until I feel strong again.
I didn’t gain all these things during my Month of Yes, but I gained the insight to be able to recognize them. They were in front of me all along.