It’s Lonely Sometimes
I am not a Pollyanna about recovering from alcoholism. I will not tell you how great my life is now that I am three years sober. I am not doing that.
Did things change for me in sobriety? Yes, they did. But change is a double-edged sword. It can be good, and it can be bad. Sobriety flips between those two sides.
It isn’t only challenging for me but for those around me too. I know how much change I have forced upon those closest to me.
The Addiction Center defines a high-functioning alcoholic as someone who habitually drinks an unhealthy amount of alcohol while maintaining some level of professional and personal success.
Many of them are successful at work and home, and sometimes their friends and family don’t even know they have a problem.
I was a high-functioning alcoholic, and no one was the wiser. I hid it really well. I would have died if I hadn’t gotten help. If you have even the slightest thought that you or someone you love is a high-functioning alcoholic, please encourage them to seek professional help.
I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.
Recovering from Alcoholism
The truth is recovering from alcoholism sucks and is hard. It was challenging in the beginning. So much so that I kept it to myself that I was stopping drinking entirely.
Being an alcoholic is one of the greatest burdens to bear. Society tells you something is wrong with you if you “can’t handle your alcohol.” Whatever the fuck that means. I know it is a bunch of BS.
I believe that alcoholism is a disease. However, it is the only disease people will shame you for having.
Even though I know that way of thinking is crap, thinking that and then trying to live as a sober person with this idea that something is wrong with you is another thing altogether.
It is estimated that about 20% of people who meet the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder appear to others to be highly functioning people who have successfully completed educational programs, maintain steady employment, and are well-paid.1
I had lived my entire life feeling like something was wrong with me. So why should sobriety be any different?
Because my sudden decision NOT to drink was so very obvious. I can keep the other reasons I feel like something is wrong with me hidden. But drinking is a social venture. And I could not hide my not drinking.
Unable to Hide
I could not hide my non-drinking if I wanted to. I was the one who went straight to the bar at networking events. I was the one who suggested we go to wineries on the weekend. I was the one who stayed after events to help with any “clean up” in the way of alcohol, of course.
When I suddenly wasn’t doing those things, people would notice. And so, I decided to be honest and forthcoming as best I could about where I was heading with my relationship with alcohol.
That is after I had a bit of time under my belt. And that time had to start after I had successfully spent NYEs by myself, getting through one night of sobriety.
The first night is the toughest. And, of course, I picked one of the hardest nights. The night is known for alcohol and late nights or early mornings, depending on how you look at it.
I was not planning on isolating myself further after that first night. But my anxiety was certainly getting the best of me. I did not attend previously planned networking events. Those were the “best” environment for me to start drinking again.
I would have eventually withdrawn more from the world if left to my own devices. Except the world did that for me.
Recovering from Alcoholism During Covid
What helped me immensely was March 2020, the world shut down. The pandemic had made it to the US and was spreading across the globe. So all the networking events that would have been extremely difficult not to drink – were canceled.
It felt like the universe was wrapping me in a huge blanket, helping to soothe my rattled nerves. Within that blanket, the world gave me the excuse to not just slow down but to simply stop.
There have been times that I think the universe is telling me, showing me, or providing me the space to be who I am, to get to where I am today. First was when my husband deployed, and then COVID. I feel like the universe could have gotten its message across differently, though.
Don’t get me wrong, holy shit, the news of his deployment sent me spiraling into a place where all hope was lost. I did not know how to process that information. My rock, the center of my world, was going to Afghanistan.
We were on a train heading to Carcassonne, France. That news silenced me. And back then, I did what I always did, I drank. And I drank my way through France. I suppose for many, that makes sense, but I was really numbing and hiding the swirling fear within.
I never wanted him to go away, but how would I process my way through all of my shit and come out stronger and hopefully better on the other side with another person and their noise? I think I could have, but he and I have talked about this, and his deployment was one of the better things to happen for me to get where I am today.
Voice of Reason
But a tiny voice told me that this was what I needed—time to myself. But holy shit, I didn’t like how I was getting that time to myself. I didn’t want my husband to deploy; I needed time and space.
I got what I needed. And then some. And now here I am.
It’s basically life, you know? Some days are great, and some days just suck. There you have it.