I keep thinking about all of us that are new to sobriety, or really struggling hard, and I feel like it’s all so fragile with the mood swings, cravings, the woe is me feelings. At times I do not comment on other’s posts because I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing, because what do I know? I don’t even have 2 weeks under my belt. But I do know why I feel differently on this last attempt at sobriety, why I’m not quite as fragile as I have been in the past, and since I just read a quote on courage (“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to continue despite the fear”) I’ve decided to take a leap to share why I’ve failed in the past, in hopes that it may help someone else in early sobriety.
I thought I was really something in May. I decided to stop drinking. Nothing major happened, just my usual drinking pattern, but I was so tired and sick of it all. I felt that for months I was gearing up, I was writing in a journal on sober mornings, and I made a list of things that I saw the universe was aligning just for me. Some will make sense, and some won’t unless you were there:
1. Meeting Bryce and seeing how he sees spiritual proof all around him
2. Reading Love Warrior (I checked it out at the library) and then wanting to buy a copy and finding it at the library for a $1.00 in the used book section
3. Running and seeing a hawk constantly present
4. Switching jobs and having time in my car to listen to podcasts
5. Finding The Bubble Hour, Recovery Elevator, Joel Osteen, 10% Happier, Super Soul Sunday
6. Getting to know Kim and Ron and learning about essential oils
7. Finding a great yoga studio
Armed with all these amazing things how could I fail? So I stopped drinking. It was hard, like really, really, really hard. So hard that I devised a way to “pretend drink”. I would come home from work, change my clothes, pour myself sparkling water and cranberry juice, and sit on the deck and while I was at it I decided I could smoke too. I don’t smoke unless I drink, but hey, you can’t give everything up, right? My husband would sit with me with his cocktail, and it was strange, and forced and beyond weird. We would cook dinner in between the deck sitting, the fake cocktail sipping, and the smoking. But I would wake up every morning and would feel accomplished. I would write in my journal, and would be so thankful I was sober. My friends would call, text, and I would make up excuses why I couldn’t go to whatever was going on. I knew if I went it was all over. And it felt pretty good. For 26 days.
I hadn’t gone without alcohol for 26 days since I was pregnant, and my youngest kid is almost 17! I felt great, I felt proud, yet very, very, very fragile. I was suffering.
So one Friday I was at work and my husband asked me what I wanted to do that night. I said I wanted him to take me out to dinner, to a VERY nice dinner. I wanted to get dressed up, do my make up. One thing I will say is if you are miserable over being sober cheer up, because your looks do improve, IMMENSELY, and I wanted to show off my sober look.
When I came home there were roses and a card, asking me out for a date. Awwwww! My heart melted, I got ready, and I went on my date with my sweet sweet husband. And I ordered a glass of wine, and then another. And then we went home. And this, my friends, ended my 26 days of sobriety. I felt like I could moderate, that all would be okay and I could handle this. But slowly my sobriety slipped away, my feelings of accomplishment slipped away, and my self loathing, shame and disgust slipped right back in. And they have all stayed with me until I joined this community, and I decided to share all these thoughts in my head. To not just write in a journal, but to send it out into the universe instead of hiding it on pages in my underwear drawer.
I didn’t expect many (or any) responses, and was in deep shock when so many women reached out. I was honored, grateful, weepy, and full of that wisdom that helps so many: We are not alone, and we are connecting.
So for what it is worth here is what is keeping me sober in a healthy way that feels different than any other attempt:
1. Belonging to a community that understands my struggles, and being active in the community.
2. Sharing my story. It let’s me pour it all out so that I can learn each day more about my journey and my feelings around it.
3. Good strong advice when I am lost.
4. Planning for the times when I know I will be at my weakest.
5. Realizing I cannot moderate, and not letting myself even begin to let a thought in that I can.
6. Caring for myself. Running, yoga, demanding my space when I need it, caring for my family in a more loving authentic way.
7. Letting others know I am not drinking. It makes me accountable, lets me lose the shame, and makes me feel strong.
8. Playing it through. What will happen if I drink during the witching hour? How will I feel about myself? How will my morning go? How will it feel to have poison in my body again? Will it be worth not fighting through those 3 hours?
9. Finally feeling like I am being a good example for my children.
10. Releasing my shame, guilt and self loathing. Believing that all of this pain had a purpose, and if I can just focus on the lessons learned I will, and am, emerging purposeful.
11. And a great big huge one: The honor in perhaps helping somebody else struggling in some small way.