40 Weeks Sober

Today I am 283 days sober!

We belong to a culture that values heroism and triumph in all forms. However, this is problematic. Because of this we cannot discuss struggle, failure, and defeat as a part of this heroism. Success is the only topic we focus on. Individual failure goes against everything America preaches to its people. The self-proclaimed land of opportunity, there should be no reason any single person should fail. Individuals themselves are to blame for their inability to rise above because everything is provided for them to succeed. Bullshit. Complete bullshit. Anyone with any kind of rationale can look around and see that is not the case one bit. So why does this phoenix rising from the ashes narrative continue to be replicated and told with only half story?


We all love a rags to riches story. We as people love it when somebody defies our cynical nature to assume the worst in people. Especially those who appear to have no chance in gaining any form of success. For that reason, we can’t help but be inspired when these individuals do the impossible. As much as we want to be on top, we all feel like underdogs in this oppressive and competitive culture we live in. These stories of those who have fallen from grace and returning more poised than ever give us a sense of hope and comfort that one day we can achieve that. More importantly these stories draw on a powerful human trait that we all embody. The trait of resilience. Resilience is the defining characteristic of every success story. Without resilience we would all succumb to self-doubt, ridicule, and be perpetually depressed. Resilience is the spark of life that sends that shiver down your spine when you are overtaken with a powerful numbness. Resilience keeps us going. Keeps us moving. Keeps us thriving.

Recently, I have come to recognize that resilience is indeed a defining factor of this story which I am writing. Without the constant persistence of that little warrior within my mind screaming at me that I can do it, I don’t know where I’d be. I’d probably still be that insecure, self-loathing, suicidal adolescent who refused to ever see the glass half full. A lot of talk about my future lately has prompted me to reflect and consider the forces that have brought me to the present moment and will continue to going forward.


A life caught up in emotional instability and isolation has provided me the ability to navigate sticky situations. Spending many nights crying myself to sleep into my pillow, I found release in this isolation. With every release, I felt this armor build up and start to serve as a coat of armor. Soon enough this armor helped quell the raging emotions within and prevent any new threats from permeating. At young age, having been pushed outside of the social circles by my peers forced me to develop a strong sense of independence. This in turn provided me the foundation on which my confidence was built upon. This confidence allowed my true colors and raw spirit shine through with no qualms with utmost bravery.


The dark ages of my life, my 4 year drinking bender, serves as the defining period of my resilience. In the thicket of that time it seemed that I would never recover. Those close to me were at the point where they couldn’t be a part of it anymore. It broke their hearts and deeply saddened them that they could not help me. Nobody could help me. I couldn’t even help myself. They watched, in curious suspense, as a sad indie movie starring a broken human on a quest for self-discovery unfolded in front of them. This broken person was looking for a sense of comfort and that they were legitimate in their existence. That they in fact are not the pile of trash as they were convinced to be. That they actually had more to offer in this world than what was dictated by people with well intentions, but no regard for they wanted for themselves. That they were not just a puppet in a larger scheme which sought to exploit them. This person was just trying to find their voice. I was a broken person. I had to hurt myself in the process. I had to lose almost everything to discover the one thing that would save me. I had to be reduced to almost nothing before my innate resilience, built up over years of trauma and emotional wounds, woke me up.


To this day I cannot tell you how I managed to wake up. I owe my life to my resilience. I must be full of gratitude for all the horrible fucked up shit that happened to my over the course of my life. Like many other stories that have been told, I am a phoenix that has risen from the ashes. However, I acknowledge my failures. I do not seek to hide them in order to romanticize my rise back up from the dark depths. I am not ashamed of the unstable and highly emotional process I have put myself through. No gain in life is earned without shooting yourself in the foot. How will you ever learn if you make no mistakes? Resilience is the representation of life lessons learned and hurdles jumped over. Resilience is that feeling you get before you go to sleep knowing that tomorrow is a new day. A stark reminder that another opportunity to be better is just on the horizon. With my resilience I seize the day.


With My Spirit Indestructible:

Taylor James



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