Two Years Sober
I am coming up on two years of sober life on December 31st. Yes, I did that to myself. I chose to stay home on New Year’s Eve and not drink. ON PURPOSE.
Why would anyone do that, you ask? Out of desperation, I was desperate. I needed to change and incrementally does not work for me. I had figured that out already. And New Year’s has such an almost mystical quality about it. You know, with the whole starting over thing.
I do not include the plethora of new year’s resolutions that no one or I ever achieved. This year was different for me. For me, that night was a choice of life or death. I chose life. And I decided to start over on an evening usually highlighted with drunkenness, at least for me. And based on watching the New Year’s Eve shows on TV, I had not been alone all those previous years.
Sobering New Year’s
That New Year’s Eve was going to catapult me into a place that I could not have fathomed during the previous dark years. I didn’t realize that at that time that it would be such a pivotal moment in my life. I guess no one can ever really tell that while in the moment, can they?
Amid the struggles that I went through that night, something changed for me. I took control of my life. For the first time in a long time, I made sure that I put myself in a situation where I could achieve my goal of being sober. I put my need for self-care first.
Sure, I had friends asking me to go out. And my hubs, who was deployed at the time, encouraged me to see my favorite local band playing nearby for the NYE celebration. You know, those that are all-inclusive, to include alcohol. I declined all of those ideas. I knew what I needed to do, and damnit, I was sticking to it.
I did just that. I stayed home, I got myself settled with my PJs and fuzzy slippers, and I sat and watched the NYE specials on TV. I never realized until that moment how watching people drink on TV while attempting my first night sober would be so freaking hard. I was tense and antsy all at the same time. I went into the kitchen multiple times and looked at the bottles of wine.
The Struggle is Real
I had started opening one a couple of times without even realizing what I was doing. If I ever needed a sign that I had a problem, that moment, bottle on the counter, opening posed ready to pierce the cork and release the grapey alcoholic goodness.
All of those actions, my actions towards opening that bottle of wine, were done without conscious thought. That was a scary moment. It took everything I had within me to put that bottle away, place the wine opener back in the drawer, and walk back into the living room empty-handed. But still alcohol-free.
There were so many nights like that. So many that they do blend, now that I look back on those days. I had to make a conscious decision and maintain that awareness the entire night and every night and day since that moment. Otherwise, I would repeat the unconscious actions of that first night.
Why not simply remove all temptation? I don’t know. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it without removing the alcohol. If I could do it with the alcohol still in my space, I wasn’t an alcoholic. As if those unconscious moments hadn’t already told me all I needed to know about whether or not I am an alcoholic.
Just in case you are wondering, I am an alcoholic.
I don’t like the word, alcoholic. But it is the vernacular that is understood worldwide to stand for someone who can’t drink. And so I use it here and for myself until there is a different word to use. And oddly, it also elicits a sense of odd pride that I can call myself that I can OWN that as a part of my truth. And without resorting to verbally abusing me.
It IS Me
I would berate myself daily for drinking too much the night before. I would stare at myself, at this stranger who could barely look back at me in the mirror, and I would ask, ‘What is wrong with you?’
Shamefully I would look away. I couldn’t look at myself. I knew how I got there, but I didn’t know how it got that bad, yet I still functioned. Well, I functioned as best I could under the circumstances. And I think that is the piece to my story that amazes me. I was functioning at 50%, at the most, and look what I was able to do.
I am as close to 100% as I have ever been in my whole life. I don’t avert my eyes as much as I look in the mirror. I still do because there will, at least for now, always be a bit of shame that I allowed myself to get to that point. I never thought I would ever be where I was, in the before dark times, but I was. And I don’t ever want to be there again.