Every Friday I try to put up something (hopefully a story) from someone who is struggling or has struggled with alcohol to inspire you all. Here’s the latest and I think it’s a good one. If you relate to what you read and want to talk to women who care, come on over to our online meeting place The Booze Free Brigade.
When I first wrote to Stefanie to write another DGDF, I thought I was writing about how great my life was once I stopped drinking, how clear things were to me and how much better I felt about every person in my life, including myself. But, that’s a load of bull.
I am writing to you because I am a person who is happy to have stopped drinking but lately has been seeing reasons to drink that scare the crap out of me.
So, as long as we’re being honest.
I just had a baby last September. My second. I have a two year old and a five month old. So 10 months of my 19 month sobriety were pregnant months. I question every day if that really “counts” as true sobriety. But I think it’s because I want to put as much time as I can between me and my drinking days. I want to look back and say, “Well I made this really, really important and really, really hard decision one day and well, now, look how wonderfully put together I am.”
But I’m not.
I’ve been experiencing some postpartum depression, some anxiety and a whole lot of overwhelming feelings. The type when you just don’t feel like you’re good in any one area of your life, so why even try? The feeling that used to lead me (and leads most alcoholics) to drink. The feeling that you want to get rid of, so you numb it, thinking that it will eventually go away.
I used to think that I would experience less of life if I was not drinking— nothing fun and extreme—no extreme happiness, belly laughter, no dancing and not caring how I looked. But what I have come to see in not drinking is this: It isn’t what you are not experiencing that you miss— but the things you are now experiencing that you never did before.
I never paid attention to the look my husband gives me across the room at a party or wedding because I was so often dodging his gaze (and thus his judgment) as I filled up my wine glass. I never knew how many engaging conversations you could have at a party because I was always excusing myself to refill my drink or call over the bartender. I never knew that I could be sober and be completely fulfilled. Not drinking used to be synonymous with deprivation. But, really, it’s the not drinking that baptizes you and truly transforms you and your life.
I think about the regrets I have and how I won’t ever have to go back to that stomach ache and terrible humiliation that I often suffered from in silence. I’ve come to see that regret is the most powerful emotion we have at times. Regret is our conscience telling us we did wrong. Regret is what tells our brain, “that wasn’t okay.” Regret helps us to move on, heal and be better. Some people say they live their life without regrets like it means they experience more than the rest of us. I think we need to live life paying close attention to our regrets because it’s the only barometer we have as to who we truly want to be.
I can’t tell you there is a secret to getting through it. I can only tell you what I have found in myself. When I can be honest, really, brutally honest with myself is when I make the decisions that really change me. When I admit that I need a meeting or therapy or a friend’s shoulder or my husband’s arms. When I hug my kids and say, “Maybe this is why I am going through all this; maybe these little people here are enough of a reason.”
And I can tell you it is my two kids that will forever make my decision to stop drinking the most intoxicating (ha, pardon the pun!) and freeing decision of my life. Growing up in a house where alcohol caused a great deal of dysfunction, an interaction like the following is like gold.
Last week my son walked up to my husband who was drinking a beer and said, “Daddy beer? Mommy beer?”
“No, that’s Daddy’s beer,” I replied.
“Yes, Parker. Mommy drinks soda.”