857-770-1189 lexy@lexypenney.com

7 Things I’ve Learned from Being Sober for 7 Years

by | Mar 17, 2021 | Mental Health | 28 comments

7 Things I’ve Learned From Being Sober for 7 Years

7 years ago today I didn’t want to live anymore. 

Sharing some of the most vulnerable parts of my alcoholic journey to recovery to hopefully help break the stigma around mental health and alcoholism. I hope to encourage people to ask for help and hold on for dear life until hope enters your body for long enough to believe it could work for you too. 

*Content warning: drinking, drugs, suicidal ideations, graphic images*

I’m 7 years sober today (3/17/2021) – free from any mind or mood altering substance which includes alcohol, drugs, nyquil, and even desserts baked with alcohol (yeah – I’m THAT strict, because I have to be.)

And I can honestly say that although I of course struggle as all humans do, for the most part I’m sober AND happy.

Sober and happy…??? I never thought it would be possible. Sober and miserable, yeah. Drunk and happy, of course. Sober and happy? No fucking way. 

{You may be wondering WTF this has to do with intuitive eating, body image healing, food, or anything I do for work/talk about usually on here. It has EVERYthing to do with it because

a.) I wouldn’t be the compassionate provider I am today without my experience of various trauma and how food is intertwined with that journey and my relationship with alcohol.

b.) How can I expect clients to share some of the deepest parts of themselves and pretend I’m a robot?

c.) One of the core values of my business is authenticity. Doesn’t get more authentic than this!

So… Here it goes!

What I was like…

I drank alcoholically from the first time I picked up a drink – when I was 13. My friend asked if I wanted a little OJ for a “chaser” as I laughed out loud and chugged right out of the bottle of Skyy vodka. It immediately filled a void in me I didn’t know existed until it was filled.

That night ended with me blacked out on the  bathroom floor with my friend panic calling my mom – followed by my mom staying awake to watch me sleep all night to make sure I was breathing and wouldn’t choke on my own puke and die in the middle of the night. 

Fast forward through high school, college, and grad school which was just more of the same, but with different people and increasingly worse circumstances. 

Waking up not knowing where I was, who I was with, where my car was, or what had happened the night before. Spending the whole day apologizing to my friends/significant other having no clue what I had even done wrong. Getting kicked out of bars and clubs for causing a ruckus BUT since I still managed to make it to my 8am organic chemistry classes and get A’s on my exams, I considered it a non-issue.

What happened…

At 25 years old I drove a jetski drunk in the ocean in Mexico. Yeah – REALLY wouldn’t recommend that! I was concussed & drowning with a fractured neck until my friend pulled me up and held me above water until the lifeguards came.  I would have drowned and died if she hadn’t been there to pull me up.

I had been completely blacked out walking up to the jetski booth and the next second I was waking up surrounded by lifeguards who were wiping the blood away from my face. I don’t remember driving the jetski AT ALL. 

I had emergency surgery in Mexico (not fun or cool, also wouldn’t recommend). “Hi, this is ___ calling from ____ hospital in Mexico. Your daughter has been in a jetski accident – she’s okay – but she has a fractured neck and needs emergency surgery on her face,” is a call you never want to receive at 3am as a parent. 

Had I been going any faster, or had I crashed any harder, I would have been a complete quadriplegic due to the part of my spine I had fractured. 

I remember being wheeled in a wheelchair through Boston Logan Airport donning a neckbrace, two black eyes, a surgically-healed broken nose and a swollen mouth. When we got to the bottom of the escalator at baggage claim, I will ~N E V E R  F O R G E T~ the look on my parents’ faces and how they both immediately burst into tears. 

I wish I could say I got sober then, but I didn’t. I remember healing from my surgery back home in Boston and although I couldn’t eat solid food because I had stitches all over my mouth, I figured out how to drink wine through a straw 🙈.

Left: pre surgery

Middle: post surgery

Far right: eating my first solid food after the surgery (a month later?)

I kept drinking for a few months after the accident and things got so dark I started to ask myself how I could go about ending things. But then it came out of nowhere. I thought of someone I know who was sober & happy and my entire body flooded with hope. I asked for help. I joined a 12 step recovery program and have never looked back. 

7 year ago me was broken, dishevelled, not showering, and broke AF with zero desire to live. It took a LONG time for me to heal, mend, process trauma, open up to and trust others, and find my voice. I didn’t cry once my entire first 2 years sober because I was so emotionally blocked, and it wasn’t until I was at least 3 years sober that I had a true, FULL ASS belly laugh that I felt to my core.

In early sobriety I was so dead inside that when someone said a sunset was “pretty” I didn’t understand what they meant – it didn’t seem pretty to me, I was actually just annoyed by the sun in my eyes and everything hurt so bad it felt like my entire body was a raw nerve ending. 

I remember asking my new sober friend Anna how to get out of early sobriety, that’s how much I hated it and she said, “you stay sober.” 🙄

So I did. I counted seconds, which turned to minutes, which turned to hours, then days, weeks, months and so forth. My dad came to every monthly celebration and watching him cheer from the back of the room was some of the purest motivation I needed. 

I dug the fuck in and did the work asked of me by my recovery peers. I showed up, took suggestions, asked for help over and over, helped others and somewhere along the way I healed.

I began to stand up straighter, shower (lol!), get relationships back, become financially independent, and most importantly – wanting to live. 

What I’m like now…

I honestly can’t believe I get to live this life. Most days, I’m happy, joyous and I feel free. Free from the pain, suffering, and anguish that active alcoholism brings. My experience in alcoholism recovery also helps me be a better provider to my clients as I deeply understand turning to food/alcohol/other things to fill a void. 

Almost all my friends are sober, and those who aren’t support my recovery whole heartedly.

Not only do I wakeup in my own bed knowing where my car is and what happened the day/night before, but when I wakeup I’m GRATEFUL and so happy to be alive another day. 

The top 7 things i’ve learned from being sober for 7 years are…

1. You don’t have to do it alone. Recovery, sobriety, life, fear, pain, suffering, none of it. No matter what you’re going through there is SOMEone, SOMEwhere who has been there or is currently there as well and knows what it’s like and/or is perfectly equipped to help you. All you have to do is take the first step and be vulnerable, ask for help, put yourself out there. 

2. It’s about progress, not perfection. My recovery has been MESSYYYYY AF. I haven’t done it perfectly and honestly IDK if you can actually do anything perfectly really. For me, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. 

3. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, what car you drive, if you’re homeless or live in a mansion. It doesn’t give a flying fuck. No one is too “high bottom” or “low bottom” to ask for/need help.

4. You don’t need a whole boat load of willingness to change. All you need is a tiny little freckle’s worth. 

5. The sunset really is so beautiful. Chasing sunsets has become one of my top fave things to do. 

6. This too shall pass. When you’re really going through it – I mean like can’t get out of bed, snot running down your cheeks, wanna crawl into a hole and never come out going through it – it feels like it’s gonna be that way forever. But it won’t. HOPE – hold on, pain ends. 

7. ODAAT – one day at a time. It’s how I got through early sobriety and it’s how I’ve gotten through this pandemic. Keep it in the day. If you have one foot in the past, and one in the future then you’re pissing on the present. 

 

PHEW that was a lot. Now I have a vulnerability hangover 🙈

Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

*If you or someone you know is struggling, please ask for help*

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website click here and phone number: 1-800-273-8255

The Trevor Helpline 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)
Specifically for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth and young adults

Alcoholics Anonymous https://aa.org 

Disclaimer: Statements in this post are for educational use only and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent conditions. Readers are advised to consult with their healthcare providers prior to making any changes to their healthcare management.

Blog Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

Hi, I’m Lexy!

I’m a Registered Dietitian, yoga teacher, & body image coach.

I help women make peace with food and built trust with their bodies so they can live the lives they desire and deserve.

Hop on my email list for your weekly dose of food freedom, body liberation and self-care!

Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

Recent Posts

Top Intuitive Eating FAQ, Answered by a Registered Dietitian

Top Intuitive Eating FAQ, Answered by a Registered Dietitian

This post will dive into the top intuitive eating FAQ I get asked as a registered dietitian with an intuitive eating approach. Which are: Does it mean just eating whatever I want?What if I never stop eating __ food?Is it healthy?Can I practice intuitive eating with my...

Can I Lose Weight with Intuitive Eating?

Can I Lose Weight with Intuitive Eating?

You may - understandably - be simultaneously interested in trying a new approach to your relationship with food but also curious and cautious if you can lose weight with intuitive eating. You've come to the right place! This post will cover everything you need to know...

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating and How They Can Work for You

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating and How They Can Work for You

Have you heard about intuitive eating but you're not quite sure how it could work for you? Has intuitive eating been recommended to you by a friend or family member but you're not really sure if it's a good fit? Or maybe you're just starting your intuitive eating...

28 Comments

  1. You’re one brave soul and one shining star. You’re an excellent example to all of us. I love you.

    Reply
    • Love you so much auntie Martha! xoxoxoxoxoxox

      Reply
  2. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability!!! Your compassion has SO helped me with my own journey in this messy life. I am so lucky to have stumbled upon your website that day. xoxo

    Reply
    • Awwww Sarah!!!!!! Thank YOU for saying that, I wicked appreciate it! Wasn’t the easiest post to write, that’s for sure – so I’m glad you appreciate! I’m so grateful you stumbled upon my website too! It’s such a joy having you on the journey with me – through it all!

      Reply
  3. I don’t think I know a more beautiful, free and badass woman than you. Honestly Lexy you make me want to change my life. I love listening to you and what you have to offer the world. Xoxoxo

    Reply
    • Omgosh APRIL!!!!! That is SO sweet of you to say! Thank you so much. I’m really grateful you’re here on this journey with me!

      Reply
  4. Wow! You are so amazing to me and I am in awe of you! I couldn’t be more proud of all the work you have done to become the woman you are now. You’re an inspiration to so many people using your wisdom and experience. The joy you share makes my heart full!

    Reply
    • Awww Mommy! Thanks for being there for me always and never giving up on me! Love you so much!

      Reply
  5. you are a LIGHT lexy! i adore you and am so honored to know you. your presence in my life has been a pure gift. so glad you are sharing. thanks for bringing with you, ODAAT! xoxo

    Reply
    • right back at you jenny fucking moloney! i LOVE you!!!!!!

      Reply
      • You are amazing, Lexy! I really admire your courage for sharing your story and helping others who are struggling to feel less alone. You are a rockstar!

        Reply
        • thank you so much Liz! Great to hear from you!

          Reply
    • OneDay AtATime!!!!!Keeping my head where my feet are, are such Tools that I’ve learned Thru the 7 years that I have!! Congratulations Lexy!! So Happy Life is Happening for us All!!! Bindy/cape cod

      Reply
      • so nice to hear from you Bindy!

        Reply
  6. Your such an inspiration to me and so many. I am so grateful for you and our love. Also so grateful for sobriety because it’s where we met. Your the best thing that has ever happened to me and I really look up to you and you work ethic and love for recovery. Happy 7 piece my love!

    Reply
    • Thank you babe!!!!!

      Reply
  7. You are so wonderful sister! The work you have done on yourself, and all that you do for others is truly incredible. I’m proud of you and I am so grateful my kids get to have the best auntie in the world.

    Reply
    • awwww seeester!!! love you so much!

      Reply
  8. I have often wondered about your story. I’m glad that I got an opportunity to read about it here. Thanks for the reminder of how much better life is in sobriety!

    Reply
    • of course! that’s why I wrote it 🙂 Thank you so much for reading!!!!

      Reply
  9. So proud of you! You’re doing great and so happy you’re connecting to people and helping them through difficult times! I find you inspiring!

    Reply
    • awww thank you so much Ellen!!!!! Great to hear from you!

      Reply
  10. So brave and thank you for sharing. An inspiration and rockstar. This us what divine is! .

    Reply
    • thank you so much!!!!

      Reply
    • I really needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing and being a beautiful example of plentiful amount of gifts recovery can bring. — I am glad that I came across this link while rollin’ & scrollin’ through my Facebook feed. Xo

      Reply
      • Awww yay! I’m so glad to hear 🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋

        Reply
  11. I am so happy that you are doing well! Wishing you continued success on your journey
    xoxo

    Reply
    • Thank you so much!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.