Today is 7 years since I decided to try a life without alcohol. I never expected it to be for good. I really thought at that time that I just needed a break to get myself under control. After all, I was a smart, educated woman.
I laugh now, but at the time it was not funny. I was scared by my own behaviour. Swearing I wouldn’t drink and then drinking. Trying different drinks, mixed drinks, more exercise, diets, cleanses.trying to be ok with drinking and not so hard on myself.
None of this worked. I was compulsive. If there was alcohol around I wanted it. I snuck drinks. I had started being later and later on mondays because I was always hungover and ill. My body couldn’t handle it at all.
At the same time I was starving myself and exercising excessively. I was fit and looked good…if you didn’t look to close. My hair was falling out a bit and I hadn’t had a period in a couple years.
I was the picture of an anxiety disorder. Brittle, stressed, overcompensating, depressed and often suicidal. I wished many days that I would just not wake up. Life was overwhelming me.
I couldn’t really understand this then. I had a lovely family, a good job, money. I had friends. People though to was ok. Inside I was screaming. I hated myself and couldn’t trust myself and was oh, so disappointed in me.
December 1, 2013 I finally just said enough. Although at the time I wasn’t sure alcohol was the only problem, it was definitely a problem. So I decided that as an early birthday present I would give myself a year of sobriety.
I had done stints of not drinking before, as cleanses, etc. And I had read Allen Carr’s book the easy way to control alcohol and it really spoke to me. Maybe there was an ok life without booze. I don’t really believe it, but I was desperate.
It was both exhilarating and impossible. Giving up the booze meant my anxiety became intense, crippling and unmanageable. I was also quite paranoid and scared.
But I still did it. I called a therapist. She eventually convinced me to see my doctor. I became willing to address my lifelong anxiety and depression. I stared medication. I read quit lit. I started going to yoga.
It seems long ago, but I still remember the distress. I also remember waking up on Monday’s to go to work and feeling proud of myself that I wasn’t hungover. it seems like a small thing, but I had so little self confidence at the time. The lying and denial of alcohol abuse truly had worn me done.
Most of my story from then on appears in this blog. I remember one day walking outside and feeling with perfect, crystals clarity that the world was exactly as it was supposed to be and that I would be ok. For me, that is enlightenment. Those moments.
It took me a while to embrace the idea that I was in recovery. I considered this a habit, a lifestyle change, self medicating. I wondered what that meant. I questioned a lot and read a lot and eventually realized that no matter what I think, my life is so much better without alcohol and that embracing recovery is the same as embracing life. I get to do this every day.
Seven years ago I hoped sobriety would mean that I could be zen all the time, able to manage anything. ha. I have encountered many hardships and joys and I have been knocked off my zen more times than I can say. I hate it, I don’t want it, but I have come to believe that from suffering comes grace. And so when find acceptance in my suffering I am able to grow. Yes, it’s bullshit. It is still true.
Looking ahead I can’t say what will come. I know that sobriety is a vital part of my life and that it is the foundation for my mental and physical health and contentment. I acknowledge this every day, and every day I get the opportunity to find joy. I am happy and I love my sober self. This, more than anything, has been worth it.
Thank you all for sharing the journey with me. This community is powerful.
Stillness and peace