I am 4 months sober. Did I really just type those words? Yes, yes I did. Time is ticking on and I am still not drinking. This is hard to believe at first, but, I think I always had some kind of faith that I would get here. I think it helped that I quit smoking and although drinking is different than smoking, I knew that deep within me was a undeniable force that I would eventually tap into that would help me to get sober.
It’s almost hard for me to relate to those months and years of feeling desperate because I wasn’t able to control my alcohol intake. The sheer number of times I told myself that I would quit or cut down and I failed to keep my promise to myself. I really really disliked that person I had become. I was completely consumed by my addiction. The amount of time that I thought about drinking, or quitting drinking, was so overwhelming that I felt trapped in my own mind. I almost got to a point where I could truly see no way out. I really scared myself at the end there. This shit is real. Addiction can destroy your life and perhaps kill you. It is a serious affliction and it can affect anyone.
The good news is that, I think, anyone can also overcome it. With the right support, you can build a recovery plan that works for you. Sometimes each person needs to go through their own kind of “bottom”- something painful enough to make them wake up and face the truth. It’s different for everyone. Some people will end up losing their job or family, some will nearly die in an alcohol related incident, some will betray their loved ones or their own sense of morality. Or, some people will reach a tipping point where they can no longer see any benefit in using. Whatever it is, a moment, or moments, in time will come and there will be no more running from the truth that you have to change your life. Hopefully, there will be no turning back.
I am grateful for the awareness of truth that finally arrived in my life. It took me years. I had been concerned about my drinking for about a dozen years, and downright miserable about it for about 2 years before I could stop. And I had been reading sober blogs, and blogging for 6 months before I quit. Part of the change, for me, was engaging with others who also felt the way I did. I could see myself in people’s stories, and I thought that maybe I would also be able to experience the freedom and happiness that some of them wrote about.
It was risky business, this getting sober. I knew that to quit drinking, I would have to go through the emotions that I have been numbing for many years. I would have to sit with discomfort instead of drown it out. I would have to feel the feelings of sadness, boredom, awkwardness, disappointment, and regret, instead of keeping them at bay with alcohol. Alcohol allowed me to shift into this other state- a state of not really caring about anything- and forget all else. This is a state of reckless abandon, a state of “fuck it”, a state that I craved from my youth.
It’s true that you can’t really run from yourself. Wherever you go, there you are. You can try to drink to deal with life, but life will always find you. If you use substances or unhealthy behaviours as a coping mechanism, it will catch up with you eventually. Your body/mind/heart/soul will start to cry out in pain. We need to treat ourselves with loving kindness or else we will resist and rebel. Just like any other living thing. For me, I came to a place where I had only two choices. I could keep poisoning myself and wish for death, or I could stop poisoning myself- at all costs- and see what would happen.
I will never regret the choice I made. At times it has been really difficult. I have had to feel a lot of things that I haven’t enjoyed feeling. But the really cool part is that I am starting to figure it out and deal with some things that needed to be dealt with. I have written here before that I have struggled with depression. Since becoming sober, I have been really able to track this and I have realized how much of my depression is connected to my cycle. After doing some research about this, I have discovered something called PMDD- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It is like an extreme version of PMS. I am going to see my doctor about this next week- the symptoms completely fit for me. I don’t think I would have figured this out if I were still drinking because of how shitty I felt most of the time.
The first 3 months were pretty hard. Lots of ups and downs. I felt fatigued a lot of the time too. But I now feel like I have a lot more energy and I am eager to do things. I don’t just want to sit around the house anymore. I have started going to another meditation group for recovery and I feel really interested and engaged with learning more about mediation and buddhism. I am being active- yoga classes, zumba classes, and hiking every week. I am starting to meet some new people! There are women in both of the recovery meditation groups that I really like so far. I am excited to keep moving forward, to see what other benefits sobriety will bring me.
I had to be willing to change my thinking and my life to get sober. Primrose wrote a fabulous post on the topic of Tommy Rosen’s addiction story premise the other day and I’ve been thinking a lot about this. My Addiction Story kept me in that nasty cycle- all the while telling me that drinking is glamorous and fun and that I needed it to cope. That it was benefitting me because on my own I am nothing worthwhile. That people wouldn’t want to be around me, and that I couldn’t stand even be around myself without being liquored up.
Now, I am learning what I like to do and how I really want to spend my time. I’m learning how to be around others sober, enjoying activities that I have in common with them. I am also learning to be alone and be content now. I am just learning how to relax and accept myself as I am.
Along with accepting myself, I am recognizing destructive thinking and learning to correct it. This has been one of the biggest gifts of sobriety.
Trust me, it is so worth the risk!