There is, as the saying goes, a first time for everything. And oh how we long for the firsts. We plan. We prepare. We get excited. But what to do when there is a second time for a first time? I had a friend tell me, "Your first year sober is a year of firsts." And it totally is. For anyone in recovery from something. Especially when you are learning how to do it all. All over again.
When I think of firsts, I, of course, think about those firsts I saw my kids experience. Their first sleep through the night (a favorite of mine). His first solid food. Her first word. His first step. Her first nap accident free (whoop whoop!). Milestones that every parent waits for. If we are lucky, they happen, and when they "should." We write them down in a book. Share a video on Facebook. Instagram the moment. Tweet about our BRILLIANT child's accomplishments. Shout it from the rooftops to all who will tolerate our long winded expressions of joy and gratitude! We celebrate like we never have before, right? "YOU POOPED!! YOU POOPED IN THE POTTY!! Get the application to Harvard Law ready! YOU GENIUS, YOU!"
But once we jot it down, or saturate our social media outlets, that milestone is behind us and on to the next! Rarely do we ever stop to consider the possibility that these met milestones may become milestones to MEET once again someday. Horrible thought, right? As we all know by now, life takes it's own course. Things happen. Accidents. Health. Luck. Choices. All of these factors determine whether or not we will have ANOTHER year of firsts, in a life after the shit. A do-over if you will.
I never envisioned doing anything over again. Learning how to do it all over again, but different. My first time in the grocery store after I came back from treatment, I walked in and stared. Just stared. Frozen. I even knew what I wanted but didn't know how to execute. Sounds crazy, I know. But trauma effects the brain's ability to do what we have already trained it to do. Literally stared. I had two choices. Run to the car in a panic. Or grab some bananas. So I stepped. I stepped forward to the bananas because to run to the car would have been a step back.
Uhhhh...I saaaiiid I went and got bananas! Did you miss that part?? Where are the cheers? The rooftops shouts? The slow clap? Where's the fanfare? Sound the trumpets! The crowds of adoring fans rushing the produce section? The crescendo of of my name in chants? Oh yeah, and did I also mention? I didn't black out on the couch today! AND I gave my 3 year old a bath...SOBER y'all! ...crickets... Where is the celebration for those "life after" firsts. Well, there aren't any. And nor should there be. Because at some point you just continue to do what we should have been doing all along. Living the life we were given in the way it was intended. With purpose.
And I sure as shit did not share those little "accomplishments" of mine on Facebook. Not a Facebook live moment, friends. No one rewards you for doing what everyone else does just 'cause they're supposed to. Guess what? It's all the crap you do that you shouldn't be doing that gets noticed. People whisper concerns. They initiate heart to heart chats. Those are your true adoring fans. The ones who face you.
But it feels different. The sense of accomplishment is different. With life lived on the "other side" you learn to do it all over. And it's good. Because not only do you learn to do things again, but you have been given a gift. The opportunity to do it better. And, oh my God, remember it! Don't take it for granted, folks. Celebrate those mini victories in your heart for there is where it matters. Pat yourself on the back for getting out of bed in the morning. You, yourself, know it may be the hardest thing you do today. Show gratitude for the second chance to do the firsts. And know that you have been chosen to do it all again. Not everyone is as blessed.