I was talking with a new friend about possibilities the other day. We were talking about life. And how it can be kind of like a box. And how you are the one who decides how big your box is.

I’ve had several people ask me what the benefits of sobriety are. In other words, why be sober when drinking is so a-) socially acceptable and sobriety makes you a weirdo and b-)  so easy and comfy. This is the best way I can explain it. Drinking makes your life box small. My legs are cramping up a little already just from looking at her in there.

It’s like, if you drew a box on the floor and put yourself in it, the ways you would stretch when you drink are just arms length. A reach out to the fridge for another bottle. A reach over to turn the alarm off for the fifth time. A reach up to massage your aching head. A reach inside to push yourself around for being hungover again.

When you really quit drinking your life box grows. You can start to push your boundaries. When I first quit I think my life box even got a little smaller at first- I was so scared to do anything. And the only thing I really wanted to do was stay sober. It was all I thought about. Then, suddenly I was walking around a bit. Taking a look around. Peering out the windows. Hell, making some windows. There are trees. And birds. Possibilities.

Because I am sober I can make my life box just what I want it to be. I can add whole rooms if I want to. Growth is feasible because I’m not suffocating from a hangover. I can commit myself to my life. I can make plans. Invite other people in. I can say, “Look! See what I’m doing? Isn’t this nice? Aren’t you proud of me?” My life is a place other people want to be.

I can give love to other people since I’m feeling love for myself. Sobriety makes my heart bigger. Whereas I used to hide- not answer the phone. Oh, God. NOT the doorbell. (This still takes practice. The phone rang last night, I picked it up, looked at it, didn’t answer. Then I called right back. Silly. But I didn’t answer the phone before, or call back, ever. I didn’t want anyone to know I was drinking. And then I didn’t want to have to make up excuses for why I couldn’t make plans.) Now the kids can have friends over. I make lunch plans for my days off. Sometimes this even happens two days in a row.

You know how, when a house or building gets built, you use these things called cornerstones? Look at the definition: a stone representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building, usually carved with the date and laid with appropriate ceremonies. And: something that is essential, indispensable, or basic. Holy crap. That’s what happens when you make a sober date. You make a cornerstone. A nominal, indispensable starting place. A strong place to start your new life box.

OK, now, also. It can get a little crazycakes when you start making the box bigger. You might have to go whoa whoa whoa! Hold up. Tooooo many changes. I can’t even find the other side of my box now. I need to go back to my cornerstone. Have a seat. Think a minute. And you can do that since you aren’t drunk so you know where you put it. Here it is. Ahhhh. Right where I left it.

You also might forget that the box is yours and start trying to make it look like someone else’s. You get turned around then too because you don’t recognize your surroundings. Head back to the cornerstone. Walk the perimeter. Trust.

Imagine your life as a box. Imagine how booze makes that box jail. Imagine how you can make a cornerstone. Or two. Or as many as you want because this is your box. A box to shape and grow. A box to open. A gift to share.

A life.