I started trying to quit drinking right after Christmas 2012. Well, I guess I tried to start a year earlier, when I quit drinking for the month of November 2011. I did it just to prove that I could, to prove to myself I didn’t have a problem. And the day I made it, I poured a huge goblet of wine and toasted myself. A whole year later I was so far past where I had been, I felt hopeless. I spent 2012 trying to “discover” myself. I went to therapy. I quit my soul sucking corporate job to pursue my freelance writing and photography career, a life’s dream! My schedule finally wasn’t full to the brim with work, so I could actually spend quality time with my kids. After months of preparation and practice, I had everything I ever wanted. And I was miserable.
That’s when I realized I had a problem. Until then I kept making excuses. “My job is so stressful, I deserve a glass of wine.” “My kids are insane, I need that bottle.” “My husband is never home, might as well drink.” But then everything was better, but I couldn’t stop drinking. I basically drank a bottle of wine every single day of the month of December. And then in January, on a work trip, I decided to stop. I woke up covered in cold sweat and had horrible insomnia. After a week, I gave in, and was back to the booze. I figured I had to drink to sleep, so I drank. That’s about when I finally joined an online community for women in recovery (the Booze Free Brigade) and infamously Googled “symptoms of an alcohol addiction.” I introduced myself to the online community and quit for two weeks, but I didn’t stay with it. I faded away, feeling shame as I read posts from people who were able to make it through. I watched as people who started posting around the same time as I did hit milestones like 30 days or three months and I was so jealous. Why couldn’t I do this?
After many stops and starts, I finally took my last drink on April 15th, 2013. I had just returned home from my dear uncle’s funeral and saw the news of the horrible bombings in Boston. There was a bottle of wine on the counter and I had two glasses before I felt sick. I knew I could not do it anymore. I finished the bottle and went to bed. When I woke up, I felt horrible as always, in a hungover fog complete with pounding headache. I made it through the day white knuckling it, and then went back online to figure out how to join the private Facebook group that was associated with my sober community online. The minute I was added to that Facebook group, I received tons of notifications from other sober people welcoming me and telling me how glad they were that I was there. That was my turning point.
Since then I have done lots of things to stay sober. The first thing was really, REALLY recognizing the fact that I cannot drink alcohol safely. I am not a one drink kind of girl, so I must be a no drink kind of girl. I check my online community daily, and post as often as I can. With encouragement of my sober community, I have started attending AA meetings, which at the very least are free therapy and at very best are saving my life. I came out to my husband and two friends about being in recovery. I text sober people when I’m feeling vulnerable and I try and provide support to others who need someone to talk to. I drink lots of sparkling water and allow myself nightly treats, like ice cream or candy. For the first week or so, I stayed tightly in my bubble, spending a lot of time sleeping and watching TV on Netflix. My kids have watched more TV in the last month than in their entire lives! I order out for dinner more often to avoid the stress and triggers of cooking. I listen to the Bubble Hour podcast, a podcast that covers topics for women in recovery, while I’m cooking or cleaning, or even mowing the lawn. I have almost completely forgone the gym, as I had no energy early on in my sobriety and I didn’t want to try too many things at once. Hopefully I can get back in to that soon.
What has changed? Well, there’s the physical stuff. I’m 10 pounds of bloat lighter. My skin has cleared up and brightened. My fingernails, which had started pealing off, are growing back. My eyes are clear and the dark circles underneath them are fading. I still get headaches, but not nearly as often, and I hear these will fade over time. I’m finally not tired anymore, but that only kicked in during this past week.
And of course, the emotional growth has been magnificent. I actually enjoy spending time with my kids. I am present in their lives, not just in the room. My husband and I are working hard, but it’s not easy. He does not think I have a problem with alcohol, but he does admit I’ve been more fun to be around lately. We’ve been out at several events and I always get to drive his nice car home. My work, which was severely neglected during the end of my drinking and beginning of my sobriety (due to shear exhaustion) is finally back on track. I am creating again, and it feels incredible. But best of all, I am seeing things again. I remember when I first got eye-glasses as a kid, and I walked outside and saw all the individual leaves on the trees. I was amazed! My whole life I’d only seen a green blur from afar, and now I could see each leaf. It was astonishing and awe-inspiring. That’s how I feel in sobriety. I see each leaf. I see each flower petal and every inch of the blue sky. I smell the raindrops on the wet ground. It’s like I’m seeing everything in my life for the first time. What a gift! It’s like being reborn.
So, that’s where I am. Day 30, with many more sober days in my future.