What did marriage/wedding look like before getting Sober?
Well marriage was not on the top of my radar that is for sure. I didn’t much care about anyone but myself. If you were getting married and it had booze, well I was there! Of course I dreamed as a little girl walking down the isle in a church with my father giving me away and the booze up party after. In my addiction I remember going to a family members wedding very drunk and out of control and caused embarrassment to him and my family. I had the inability to think of others, and was completely self consumed in my addiction. Having a committed relationship then? No way! Sex? Yes! Marriage? Hell no!
The relationship I had with my family was almost nil and void and I lost my identity the minute I picked up a drink at 12. My drinking began to be just a once in a while nuisance and evolved into a lifestyle that consumed every part of my life. I could not get far enough away from my family. All my problems were everyone else's doing, and I was the victim. Partying was my happy place, and I couldn't get enough. I put my lifestyle ahead of everyone and anything. I became a walking slave to my addiction in the end. I was lucky I found Sobriety so young; I was a single mom of a 2.5 year old and new I needed something to feel whole again. I was so lost so lonely so broken, and so hopeless. God stepped in and heard my inner scream and put sober people in my life who changed it forever. After all, God new I had a man in my Sober future and a Wedding to plan!
Okay I'm Sober in love..... Now what? How do I even begin to plan a Sober Wedding?
Falling in love in Sobriety was actually the easy part. Living Sober with a partner and planning out the big day came with all sorts of new feelings of conflict, worry and anxiety I was not prepared for. I was so concerned about what others thought, especially my family.
Should I have booze available? Should I not? Do I go to a bar for my bachelor party? Do I not? What do we toast with? All these thoughts raced around at the time. I was going a little crazy in my mind that is for sure which brought on irritation, and insecurities. I was second guessing myself and even my relationship. I had such an ability to tear myself down and in some sick way I was comfortable there? It was safe. If I just expected the worst then I couldn't be disappointed right?
Even though sober a couple years when I began planning my wedding, I still harboured those negative emotions and lived in fear. I had so much guilt and shame about who I was and all the damage I caused in my drinking days. Most things I did to help my family or others came from a place of guilt and shame. I just wanted to be forgiven and loved and would do anything for that, even if it put me on the back burner. People would tell me what I should be doing or thinking and I just became a puppet to whatever they wanted. I did not think for myself very well, as I felt like such a failure, and not good enough. My people pleasing shortcoming would always cycle into getting irritable, angry and resentful and eventually I would drink again.
My wedding actually became an opportunity for God to change that part of me. He took me on a journey through all those raw feelings and showed me freedom. I was willing, and became teachable. I surrendered and instead of doing everything my family and the outside world told me to do, I began following and listening to the people who were recovering and who walked around in life with a glow and a confidence I wanted. God used them to humble me, and teach me a new way of living. With their help I was able to dust off my childhood dreams and slowly began to grow into the women God intended me to be. Those self serving attitudes disappeared and I learned how to let go and let others in.
What does that look like? To really let go? To really change? In those days I had my insides so tense, like I would literally shutter and my teeth would sometimes clatter. Anxiety is what they call it today, back then they told me that was my higher Power shaking the shit out of me! Today when I get like that, I KNOW it is god Shaking the shit out of me! LOL.. So with my teeth cluttering and my voice shaky I took a risk and began sharing snib bits of what I was really thinking with other women in my recovery group. I tested those waters for several weeks. It was actually very terrifying, but I did it anyway. I did not want to go back to that feeling of hopelessness I lived with for so long before I got Sober.
After sharing a snib with those ladies, they shared some of their stories with me, and quickly my teeth stopped clattering, by voice became normal and I understood the language they were speaking! For the first time I could feel something changing for the better and couldn't explain it! I began to feel comfortable within my own skin. The more I shared little bits of what was REALLY going on inside my thoughts and my life, the more I felt free! I no longer was as fearful as I once was and I found hope! Maybe my wedding would turn out okay after all? Many had sober weddings and gosh they sparkled still? They shared such intricate detail about there special day, they remembered so much! I wanted that too.
So many decisions to make! So many questions needing answers? How do I even begin? Here are 4 ways which were recommended to me that I still implement in my life today!
Just talk out loud they said! Scream to the sky's, just be me. Don't over think my prayers, they are heard even before I say them. So no need to sugar coat them...just be me and have a conversation
That was some great early suggestions..as 'praying' scared me- Religion was another area I needed healing around. I did not believe in much of anything, but could handle talking to a tree, or to the sky or hugging and talking to my stuffed bear . Those things resinated with me. When I began praying/talking about the fears around the decisions I had to make, I discovered my feelings of anger and irritation were also disappearing? I felt I was not alone and my answers began to come!
Attend my Support Meetings
Go to as many as I could, but ensure I picked three I would attend faithfully no matter what
They suggested to go to the same ones as that is the only way I am truly able to let others in and for me to get to know them. Also, if I was still feeling troubled after the meeting I could go to someone and let them know what was going on with me, or ask for a phone number so I could call them later.
Talk to my trusted friend Daily
This person also was in recovery from Addiction and had much more clean time than I.
I called her my Sponsor
The one person I am really able to open up to with more detail. Therapist, Counsellors, Clergy or Life Coach are all good too, but I needed someone who came from where I was and was healing from their past and had something I wanted for me to really want to do the work.
Write it out, like praying, don't overthink and write like no one is every going to read it
This was for sure an extension of my praying, meeting attendance, and Sponsor chats. This is truly where I was able to connect with my higher power, my inner voice and hear what God really wanted for me. The answers came for those tough wedding decisions. To have booze? Not to? Allow people to bring booze? not to? Get married in a church? who to invite to the wedding? who not to? Have non-alcoholic champagne to toast with? Or not?
The BIGGEST Question I needed to have answered was if we were going to have alcohol at our wedding or not? My husband to be and I did not drink and our life was consumed with Recovery and our life no longer looked like it once did. We did not not want to simulate anything from our past and especially those 'drunk' weddings we attended. I wanted this to be a day where my friends and family could experience my Sober life. It may be the only opportunity many of them would be able to get to see me. Yes, my family drank but this was not about them, this was about me and my hubby to be. So, after lots of prayer, regular attendance of my support meetings, talking to my sponsor and journalling the answer came, and it was to not have alcohol consumed or served on our special 'Sober Wedding Day'. A lot of healing happened through making that decision and many relationships were challenged, but many blossomed in ways I never expected!
I was able to make many formal amends before my big day, and because of those efforts and putting my recovery first through every step of the wedding planning, my father walked me down the isle. The teeth cluttering and my insides shuttering were no longer from a place of fear..it was transformed and coming from a place of pure uncontrollable love and Joy! That moment my father took my hand, scooped it up into his arm, and gently patted it looking at me and softly said, "I love you sweety". My recovery rocketed into a dimension I could never have imagined.
My Sober Girlfriend at the time conquered one of her fears that day as well, which was singing in public. Her voice echoed in the church seconds after my fathers words, and our steps taken down the isle were taken while she sang acapella "The Rose". The emotion was intense in such a magical way that were felt by all. Many who knew my battle and helped me through my journey planning our Sober Wedding, were able to witness that moment which added a level for them too that I could not imagine. Many new people in Sobriety attended as well, and family I had not seen in years. Each moment of the day God's hand was there, in charge of all the intricate details playing out the way he intended. The more years that pass and the more I look back, I can see his incredible thread of love, power and grace amongst all!
Once I walked down the Isle and said I Do, the sober fun just continued! The ladies in my recovery circle loved to bake and something I loved when I went to my
support meetings each week..often that is what got me to those meetings! So they brought their favourite treats to share at the reception. The Pastor who married us was a man who’s son went to the same support meeting and really understood about Sobriety. God continued to show up every step of the way and there was no question he was felt and seen on our Wedding Day! Our reception was set up with Podium and all! Our family almost experienced their first support meeting. We had fun with that! LOL.. Each guest received a scroll with an inspiring poem of hope about not giving up before their miracle happens. We married at 11am in the morning, as again 'noon' was a time we always were at a support group so wanted to be in our 'reception' gathering by noon.. LOL.. Also we had our Home Group meeting that night. Which we did attend wearing our fancy ‘going away outfits’ and invited everyone there to come Dance Sober at a local Recovery Club Hall. We had people come we had never met before! Every detail is remembered today and treasured!
Each event that comes in my Sober life today is a re-birth opportunity. I am given a second chance to heal where I need healing, mend where I need to mend, and give back where I need to give back. My Sobriety continues to Rocket me to the 4th Dimension, and Gosh its an incredible ride!!! This year my husband and I celebrate 26 years of Sober Marriage and I continue to 'actively' use the incredible 12 steps that God blessed me with almost 29 years ago and right when I think it can't get better....it does!! I was told to not quite till ALL miracles happen.
Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed
It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live
When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose
Songwriters: Amanda Mcbroom
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