When I first got sober, I went to an AA clubhouse near the Marina in West Los Angeles. This place was just as seedy rowdy and ridiculous as the bars I used to hang out in plus there was always the very real possibility of a fight breaking out, so suffice it to say, I loved it. I mainly frequented this place because it was close and I inevtitably encountered someone at those meetings who made me feel better about my life becasue their’s was so messed up. Every so often, however, I would hear a very real and amazing piece of wisdom. One night, when I was feeling particularly low and bored and like I couldn’t do this sobriety thing right, I heard a speaker. She was a foul mouthed ex-crackhead who spent most of her share telling off-color jokes about dogs and peanut butter. I laughed with everybody else because just like them I need to laugh and was happy for the distraction. After 20 minutes, it was time for her to wrap it up. I know she probably said a lot of memorable things that night but her parting words have stuck with me. “Give yourself a fucking break”, she told the crowd who just like me clearly needed to hear those words.
Those five words have rung in my ears whenever I start beating myself up for not being perfect or for making mistakes or for stressing out about things that are beyond my control. “Give yourself a fucking break, Sean,” I’ve said to my reflection in the mirror more times than I can count since that summer night in 2009 in the Marina. And now nearly three years later in Colorado, I still need to say those words to myself . Because even though I’m sober, I still act crazy and I still need to be good to myself.
I have happily passed on these five words to friends who are struggling because most of the time we can’t see how tough we are on ourselves. And they in turn, have said them back to me over and over again. So if the holidays were rough, if you think you suck at your job or relationship, if you’re sober and having a hard time with life, or if you’re struggling to make a change like get sober or leave a bad relationship– Give yourself a fucking break. Things are never as bad as we think we they are and that includes ourselves.
(I’m not really sure what the unicorn van has to do with giving yourself a break. But enjoy it anyway.)