So many great stories coming in. So many great people. I’m so glad I get to know all of you and be a part of your sobriety. If you want to learn more about your drinking you can join us here.
“I think I always knew I had a problem. I was destined to, actually. My dad’s father was a raging drunk who died from the disease. I grew up with a mother who hid wine in the laundry room and blacked out regularly. I never trusted anything growing up, because I learned early on that nothing that I perceived or felt was the same as everyone else. That I believe was the beginning of my feeling like I never fit in anywhere. And that was the root cause of why I drank. I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to feel as good as everyone else. Because I always felt less than. It didn’t matter what I achieved. Graduating college, passing the CPA exam, being skinny, being fat, being blond…I never truly felt like I was as good as everyone else.
I didn’t start drinking until I was 21. I was a nerd and a goody-goody who wouldn’t try to buy alcohol before I legally could. I had 10 good drinking years. And by good I mean progressively worse. There were warning signs along the way. I got arrested for DUI when I was 23. That didn’t stop me. I blacked out, A LOT. That didn’t stop me. I came out of black outs in strange places with people I didn’t know and I had no idea what had happened. That didn’t stop me. I got sick in bathrooms I normally would’ve been too scared to walk into. That didn’t stop me. I had so many regretful mornings being told what I did the night before. That didn’t stop me.
I knew I had a problem. But I didn’t really want to stop. I had a lot of not yets. I still had my job, my car, a roof over my head and my boyfriend. My last day of drinking started like so many others. I had lunch with my mom (we were good drinking buddies – I’m nothing if not dysfunctional) and shared a bottle of wine. We then spent the afternoon shopping our buzz off. I had plans that night with some people I didn’t really know, so I was feeling nervous and self-conscious. So, naturally, I was drinking while I got ready to go out. As the night progressed, I proceeded to drink more and more, mostly to hide my discomfort. I felt fat and ugly around my boyfriend’s friends and I wanted to squash that feeling. I wanted to feel like I fit in and was as good as they were. Isn’t that why we drink? To feel better, different, not ourselves? The night ended with me on a dance floor at a club dancing with strangers (very inappropriately for a non-single woman) while my boyfriend watched. He was embarrassed and disappointed, and this was really the first time that I saw how my drinking affected someone else. He was also the guy that I hoped might be husband material, so the idea of losing him was scary.
So, off to AA I went. Now, this wasn’t my first foray into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had managed to put together 6 months and then I had 6 “dry” months followed by 6 months of progressively worse drinking and blacking out. I was a binge drinker. I could go days or even weeks without a problem. But for those 6 months before I quit for good, I had a blackout each month. St. Patrick’s Day, my roommate’s birthday, the steeplechase, Jimmy Buffet, something in July…you get the idea. I didn’t see this at the time of course. I should also mention that I was about 6 months sober before I understood what a blackout really is. In a blackout I was still functioning – awake, moving, interacting with people, I just didn’t remember any of it. I think I thought I was sleeping or something. Which makes no sense, but it did in my actively alcoholic little brain.
I have to say, for me, the quitting drinking wasn’t the worst part. It was hard, but it wasn’t the hardest. The hardest part was learning to live differently. Think about that – live differently. Everything that I had done up until that point was somehow connected to my drinking, whether I knew it or not. All of my behavior was driven by addiction, character defects and fears. And although those things were essentially ruining my life, I didn’t want to let them go. They were comfortable. Like an old stretched out, stained sweatshirt that fits just right. AA taught me how to get comfortable with other things. Like my feelings. And my failures. And myself. That was the root of my problem. I wasn’t comfortable with myself – I hated me and I thought that I needed to hide me from everyone so they wouldn’t hate me too.
Once I was able to open myself up and be honest, amazing things happened. I met a wonderful man and got married. I have two lovely sons who are the light of my life. I took control of the responsibilities that I’d been shunning for so long – my finances, my health, my relationships. It’s not easy, trust me. Some days I just want to stand and stomp my feet and say, “I don’t wanna!” But then I do it anyway. Because I’ve learned that sometimes I can’t wait to want to do some things. I’m never going to want to do them (yes, I’m talking about the dishwasher – I will always hate it. Doesn’t mean I can’t unload it). And I’ve learned that I always feel better when I do the right thing. ALWAYS. Whether I wanted to or not.”