I’m going to pre-face this by thanking my wonderful supportive partner. I think I still could have done this on my own but I’m glad I didn’t have to. One of the first things he said to me this morning was “Happy soberversary baby, I’m so proud of you!’ I was half asleep still and so thankful he remembered to give me that lil ‘high five dude’ before the sun was even up.
And he brought me home two new little Calico Critters <3 Damn i love him!
So – how did we get here?
One year ago today at about 7pm I woke up after an alcohol induced nap feeling like crap. It was Sunday and the day after my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding. I had not had a drink in a few weeks at that point, I had quit drinking shortly after my birthday the month before.
The wedding was one of those situations that come up when newly sober. Most people who have quit drinking are familiar with the process. A few weeks has passed, you’re feeling pretty empowered, and you’re in a situation where everyone is drinking (or at least it seems like it) and feeling somewhat awkward and overwhelmed with the sheer amount of people and activity – suddenly the bar over there at the side just seems like a great idea. “I’ve done it this long , so it’s obviously not a huge deal. I’ll just quit again tomorrow. I’ll just have a few drinks – I mean I’m going to have to join the toast to the new happy couple after all.
Suddenly you’re just drunk.
Now to be fair, I did well. I was aware (painfully) afterward of how overly conversational I got, and how I was having all these huge conversations with all these people that suddenly seemed like they should be my best friend. Borrowing cigarettes, losing lighters – but generally just having a good drunk time – just like everyone else. I didn’t embarrass myself or anything which is GREAT because very often the first drunken flail after sobriety is a huge disaster.
I got home that night after the wedding, felt pretty in control still — had some chit chat with people who were at my house because my roomate had been celebrating his birthday while we were at the wedding, but I pretty much just went to bed.
The next morning however, old behaviours kicked in. I felt like crap. Shaky, anxious – a bit ‘off’, but feeling proud of myself for not making a fool out of myself at the wedding (though I might have said ‘I love you’ to a few strangers) . There were still people over from my roomate’s bday the night before and my roomate was cooking up a big pancake breakfast. There were some longbow ciders, some vodka sodas and other odds and ends kicking about. I did what I often did to ward off the horrible Day After feeling and started to drink. Nothing feels better the day after drinking than starting again : Day Drinking. An odd surreal euphoria, the hours just sort of blend and melt together.
But by late afternoon and 6 or 7 beverages I was napping off and on, feeling the slight discomfort of anxiety that was sneaking its way in. When i first started drinking I used to joke that I couldn’t have a panic attack while drinking. But as the years passed they found their way in. This was the way it played out that last day. I’d wake up every half hour or so, drink some more of my whatever and snooze again, listening to whatever the boyfriend had put on netflix or youtube.
I fell fully asleep and woke up about 7pm. And when I woke up I just felt so gross and shitty and like such a failure. The euphoria of the day drinking had worn off and all I wanted was to feel ok. To feel normal, present, capable and competent. I just was so done. Yep I could fool myself by thinking I didn’t really have a problem because HEY I remembered what I did last night, I didn’t black out this time or HEY I can go a few weeks without drinking and it’s not like I crave it! Or HEY I can keep my drinking to special occasions!
But those are all just stupid things the abusive partner likes to say so that I don’t break up with him once and for all. Once I get drinking there is no guarantee that I’ll stop. Instead I’ll start to worry about the fact that I won’t have enough left for the next day. Most often my ‘off switch’ is entirely absent. People like my boyfriend can have a beer and enjoy it and say “Well now that was a fine beer. Maybe I will have another — actually no, I think I’m good” whereas for myself it’s “well that drink was ok I think – or maybe not, but I’ll drink it all regardless!” and basically the drinking continues until it’s time to sleep or until it runs out. And then the next day would be horrible anxiety and shaking or buying more. And since I did not drink every day I had MANY days of just long drawn out sickening anxiety, shakes and racing heart that I endured – praying to God that if I survived this time that I would never drink again. And even though I’d keep that promise for a while there was always an ‘Again’.
This time was different though. I just felt it through and through. There were many things I had no control over in my life. My daughter died in 2016 and I went VERY downhill from then on. Drinking became far more prominent. I couldn’t control whether or not anyone else I loved would suddenly die also, or if I would die – and death is a HUGE freaking fear of mine. I couldnt control if I had cancer or heart disease or any of the other things I felt that I had every single day because anxiety is really good at making a person assume they are about to die. I couldn’t seem to control my weight or my fear of being in cars or fear of dying in a fire etc. etc. but I COULD choose to not drink.
I could choose to not put alcohol into my body. It could be the ONE thing I could be proud of. A challenge that I would meet head on and destroy. And I made a very conscious decision that night to be really and truly done.
And it is now one year later.
It’s not all roses and unicorns however. I still feel flat sometimes. Most of the time I think. I still have anxiety but it’s different. I am very aware that it is anxiety and not imminent death. I can feel it begin to come on, and analyze it and work with it for the most part. I don’t obsessively fear dying anymore – though it is still a fear. I haven’t lost weight, in fact with sobriety and covid I have definitely eaten more and participated in less activity- Ive gained 7 lbs. I feel like I’m not fun anymore, but my boyfriend tells me that drunk me wasn’t really fun. I was just drunk. Don’t get me wrong, there were fun times – fun times with liquor. But those fun times could have been just as great if I were sober. The fun time itself often turned into me needing to be carried to bed, or rambling on all hours of the night about things I was quite sure were amazing. Then there was waking up the next day wanting to have just a shot or two in my coffee to ease off the ‘hangover’ (aka withdrawal.)
So what is good about it?
I LOVE being present. No matter how shitty it feels sometimes. Some situations are crappy and garbage but they are MINE and I own them. And I sort them out. Sobriety is like a workout for the spirit. Feeling bored? Friends all out drinking? FILL THE VOID with healthy self-love! Play with my tarot cards, watch some shows I love, write poetry or sad songs about how fucked up things are. Research things, learn things, push past the societal norm of alcoholism and past the cultural addiction to all the shit that we are spoon fed every day.
This is my life. Each day I am choosing how to live it. I am being as authentic as I can and making new memories. I can make plans and stick to them now because I don’t have to worry about ‘oh I’ll be hungover that day’.
Someone said in a quit lit book something to the effect of if alcohol came on the scene today it would never be legalized. And someone in a fb sobriety group I’m in said ‘ you’ll never regret not drinking’. Those are two things that pop into my mind frequently. I’m just so glad that I NEVER have to worry about drinking again. I finally took that abusive partner and fully and totally kicked him out of my life. I rarely even hear that little voice suggesting to drink anymore, and if I do I literally say out loud ‘fuck off’. 🙂 seems effective.
So cheers – have some kombucha or coffee or something.