When I met my now husband a year into my sobriety, I remember him asking, “Can’t you just promise that you will never drink again?”
It doesn’t work that way–or at least it doesn’t for me–it’s just today.
And today–I get to wake up unencumbered with a headache or shame or a fogginess. No more questions: “Where did I end up last night? How did I get home? And with whom?”
Today–I am a friend, a wife, a mother, a writer, a member of the community.
I can make plans–and show up. I can be there for others. I can give and I can take.
I can feel–sad and raw and happy and joyous. I can be alone with myself and feel ok. I can be in a crowded room and also feel ok. I can be honest.
But it wasn’t always that way.
I grew up in Fairfield County–private schools, athletic, smart enough, and popular. I was a hard worker, a perfectionist, and shy around members of the opposite sex.
My parents divorced when I was 7. My father was an alcoholic. My family was complicated and dysfunctional, although I didn’t understand any of that at the time.
I discovered alcohol when I was a teenager. And in the beginning, it was magic.
Just a few drinks and I was no longer shy. I could talk to anyone–especially members of the opposite sex. It provided relief from the expectations that I put on myself. It made everything better. I felt different–happy, free, and powerful.
And it worked until it didn’t.
I don’t know when I crossed over the line from wanting a drink to needing a drink but once I crossed–there was no coming back.
I took my drinking to college and found others who loved to drink like me, but they eventually grew out of it. I did not.
I began to choose drinking over everything and everyone in my life. I dabbled in other illegal drugs. I did a lot of stupid things. I hurt a lot of people. My world became small. I dropped out of school and became a bartender, drifting from job to job, person to person, place to place. I was alone, lost, tired and sick and I was addicted both physically and psychologically to alcohol. I had no idea how to stop.
At night, when I had a place to lay my head, I was terrified to close my eyes and be alone in my thoughts.
My last drink was on Columbus Day many todays ago. In a blackout, I reached out for help.
I was fortunate to still have people in my life who cared. I got help. I was twenty-three years old.
I was never a functioning alcoholic- that turned out to be my greatest gift.
To be clear, a sober life isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. But I am incredibly grateful to be where I am.
I watched my son die in sobriety. I lost my father, a man with whom I had many unresolved issues. I lost pregnancies. And I lay in a hospital bed for 18 weeks during another pregnancy.
I have also celebrated in sobriety–my marriage, college graduation, a completed marathon, and the births of five children.
The celebrations far outweigh the pain. The struggles and challenges shape me.
Today–I choose life. Today–I choose not to drink and I know in my heart how blessed I am—”but for the Grace of God go I.”