Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Arlington, Texas
FlawedNFntastic - My Story
So, today is 23 months exactly of me being sober. And life has changed. I’ve changed. Everything has changed. This is probably going to be long and rambly, so I thank you in advance for those of you who bear with me.
My story is just like everyone else’s. I started drinking, young in my case, and it took over my life. I got married, had kids, traveled the world, graduated from college, got divorced, and moved around the country, and while I was a wife, mother, daughter, friend, sister, employee, and student, I was thinking about my next drink. Some days, it was all I thought about.
For over thirty years, if I wasn’t pregnant, I drank nearly every single day. And I was pretty sure I didn’t have a problem for about two decades of that. Then I started to realize that when I woke up in the morning, it was the first thing I thought about. If I was majorly hung-over and nauseated, then I’d promise myself I was not going to drink. By about 2pm, those plans were ALWAYS out the window. If I was for some reason okay and feeling alright, then I was rationalizing drinking more, because obviously I hadn’t hit my limit the night before. Instead of budgeting for my kids’ college education, I budgeted for always having alcohol. I left family gatherings, work events, school events, my kids’ events to go drink. And I told myself I was just fine.
Eventually I got one of those phone calls from the doctor that my LFTs were all messed up and they asked me if I had a problem with alcohol. I quit for a month. See? I could do it. No problem. My LFTs went back to normal and I took it as a checkered flag on drinking. That was around 15 years ago. If only, right?
So after a while, my life as a “functional alcoholic” started to disintegrate. I’d long before given up drinking in public so that no one would notice just how much I drank. Of course I also bought alcohol at a variety of liquor stores so none of the cashiers would notice how much I was buying either. But just drinking at home still had catastrophic consequences. My marriage imploded. There were other factors, but the alcohol was the elephant in the room – for both of us. My daughter went to go live with my parents so she would have some stability and know that she came first with someone. I’d burned every bridge with every friend I had, and I ended up in a crappy apartment with my infant son, alone. And I still drank. For years more.
During this time of awful isolation, fear started to set in. Shame was a longtime playmate, but the fear was new, acute, painful. I could not stop drinking. I could not beat it. I was not strong enough. It was going to kill me. And I was going to leave my son alone in the world with no one because I couldn’t do it.
I prayed for guidance, I prayed for help, and one day I decided this was the day. I was going to quit. I white-knuckled it and fought and read on SR and walked miles and miles and miles rather than drink. And I did it. The cravings were brutal. I’m a creature of habit, and my habit was drinking. I had no idea what to do with myself and my time. And my thoughts. Oh, wow. My brain was jam-packed with these dreadful, horrible little gems that I could not get rid of. I’d be driving along or sitting at work and suddenly I’d remember some awful thing I’d done and just be paralyzed with gut-clenching shame. Good times.
But after a while, it got easier. The shame started to subside. The cravings never really went away during this time, but they were less severe. My family started to trust me again. I made it seven months, and I got complacent, and I blew it. I decided to drink for a night. The night turned into a weekend, turned into a week, and I was right back where I’d started. Fifteen months went by. I couldn’t put together a sober week. I managed three days here and there, but I just fell right back into the pit.
I kept trying to rationalize it, reason with it, bargain with it, but alcoholism was irrational, unreasonable, and didn’t care to bargain with me. It was going to take everything from me and it would do so with a smile. I would drive to work every morning, just praying and praying that I could stop and feeling this growing dread swallowing me. I remember sitting in a movie with my father, and suddenly total panic set in. I knew I was going to die. And probably soon. And I still couldn’t stop.
Then one morning, not long after, I woke up, and I knew it was the day. I knew that day, I could do it. I could save my life. And for an instant, a split-second, I believed I was worth it. And that split-second made the difference. It was like a gift from the universe.
I won’t say it was easy, because it was anything but. The cravings were amped up like they had been bitten by a radioactive spider, and my body was mad at me. I was nauseated for weeks, my skin broke out like it never had when I was a teenager, every bit of anxiety that I’d ever medicated with alcohol came to call with a vengeance, and I could not sleep. But I held on to that glimmer, that hope, that I could be more, I could be strong, I was worth it, I AM worth it.
I walked miles and miles again, and then miles and miles more. I craving surfed on SR, sometimes just forcing myself to get through the next minute, the next second without drinking. I cried, I prayed, I argued with my AV, I tried to ignore it, I read books, I watched what seemed like YEARS of Netflix, and I started to meet myself for the first time in my life. I had to learn what I liked, what I didn’t, how to deal with things without the numbing veil of alcohol, find out what I was capable of and what I wasn’t.
And again, it got easier. After about 20 months, I stopped having even marginal cravings. I felt like there was something wrong with me because it took so long for them to go away, but Dee is right – everyone is different and everyone has their own way of experiencing things. So now I’m doing what’s right for me. I’ve never let myself “graduate” from the Newcomers to Recovery forums, because I think it’s key to my recovery to keep the memory of the fear and shame that were my companions always with me and I read the words of the people that are still in that terrible space. I tell people “no” when I need to take care of myself and my family. I never put myself in situations where I fear I might be tempted.
Now life doesn’t always go along with your plans, so there have been some truly crap events since I got sober. I got fired, and my former boss was angry enough to refuse to give me any recommendation or references or to let anyone I worked with there to provide me one either. My daughter went into inpatient for mental illness. My ex-husband nearly drank himself to death after previously drinking about 60 I.Q. points away and I went to go basically be a familiar face as he died (he did not die, just FYI). But I got through all of those things sober too, and I got through them in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had my every waking thought been about drinking.
People can count on me again – or really, for the first time, they can count on me as I am now. My son says he doesn’t remember what it was like when I drank. Gift from the universe number two, thank you! My daughter and I are starting to repair some of the damage I caused. My mom brags about me. And when my dad needs someone to go see some awful bit of cinema, he always calls me and he knows I’m going to be there to watch it with him. I’m out in the world as a functional human. I truly never thought I would get there.
I know people always say, “If I can come back from where I was, then there’s hope for anybody.” And I’m going to say it too. If I can come back from where and WHAT I had become, then nobody is beyond hope or help. If you’re struggling, get help. You’re worth it. Let us know what it’s like when you meet yourself on the other side.
So that’s it, my long, rambly, clichéd story. Thanks for listening and thanks for being here, SR.