Today marks four years since I stopped by the liquor store during my daily errands (I had been laid off from my job and was living on severance), purchased a ridiculously expensive bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay (plus another cheap bottle), went home and announced to my husband that this would be my last bottle of wine. Once he got his composure back (the Cakebread was expensive and I was spending a lot on wine at the time), he smiled. What I noticed about that smile is that it didn’t reach his eyes. He said, “Good for you beautiful. You know I’m here to support you in any way I can.” But what I heard in his voice was, “We’ll see. I hope it sticks this time.”
I drank those two bottles…slowly for a change…and sat up in my room alternating excitement with panic. “Oh my God…what have I done! How will I ever have any fun if I don’t drink? What will we do for date night? How will I entertain?” Finally I just stopped thinking about it (because that’s why I drank right?) and went to bed.
The next morning I got up, with a hangover of course, and proceeded to start my day. I went online and found an online AA meeting and started up chats with several people. I joined two different groups and vowed to stay in touch with them (which I did for about the first six months). I took my Nook and ordered several “drunk” books. I drank orange juice. I talked with the hubs.
And I waited, terrified, for five o’clock.
Of course it came and went and the rest is history. The difference in the five o’clock on January 7, 2010 and every other five o’clock in my drinking history was that this time I was determined. I had dug my heels in and decided, stubbornly, that I was going to break the cycle of addiction that had ruined my family for as far back as I’ve been able to trace. Divorce, dysfunction, poverty, depression, death. It had to stop. I had worked very hard to build a life as close to Norman Rockwell and Currier & Ives as was humanly possible. A life so far removed from anything I’d ever experienced that it was almost unrecognizable to me on some days.
And I was throwing it all away, one bottle of wine at a time.
So I quit. I gave myself permission to sleep…a lot. And to eat peanut M&M’s. And cry. And throw temper tantrums. And love on my family. And let them love on me. But I never, ever gave myself permission to drink. I thought about it at first…a lot. “I’ll just quit until vacation.” “I’ll quit for a year and then I’ll learn to moderate.” “Maybe I’ll still drink when I travel for work. No one will know.” But everytime I thought about it I told myself “tomorrow I’ll see how I feel.” It worked.
It also got easier. Day by day, hell sometimes it was minute by minute, it got better. Those first few months were all about just staying away from wine. That’s it. Just. Don’t. Drink. Dumbass.
Then it became about, “What the fuck do I do now?” I didn’t have one clue about how to be sober. I had to redefine my life in terms of what was real instead of what I had created under a cloud of booze. I had to learn to be honest with myself and face my feelings and deal with life as it comes, warts and all. I didn’t worry about having any fun or socializing or even contacting friends. I was a hermit. I stayed home and dealt with me. I contemplated going to the beach for a few days by myself because the ocean is my zen. But I decided against it because, well…because I didn’t trust myself yet. I pushed away feelings of guilt about things I wasn’t getting done (like finding a job) and just concentrated on being sober.
Once that first year was done…the year of first Valentine’s Day, birthday, summer, fall, holidays, Tuesdays, a full moon, a sunset, (insert lame drinking excuse here), I could breathe a little easier. I’m pretty sure that was when I started to actually enter recovery.
I’ve never regretted one single solitary sober moment. Sometimes I miss the hell out of the taste of a really good Chardonnay or a single shot of Jameson’s but that’s just taste. Because I know it was never about just one for me. It was always about getting wasted. Always about more. Here the thing though…I never left anything at the bottom of a wine bottle that I need to go back and get. There’s nothing there for me anymore. Actually, there never was.
Everything I will ever need is here for me, right now. Sobriety let’s me reach out and take it and for that I will always be grateful.
So if you’re out there reading and you’re trying to decide (or have decided) that your New Year’s resolution will be to give up the booze, then DO IT. Reach out to me via the comments or email and I’ll talk you through it. Or reach out to anyone you see on my blogroll to the right and THEY will be there for you (trust me on this people). Or keep reading all the sober blogs you can find and stay sober that way. Or Google AA (www.aa.org) and THEY’LL be there for you.
But, to borrow a phrase from Nike, JUST DO IT. Get your life back. You’re worth it. I promise.
Note: If you find yourself sick after you’ve tried to quit, throwing up, shaking uncontrollably and you just can’t function without some alcohol PLEASE call your doctor or AA and find a detox center. Withdrawing from alcohol can be dangerous and if it’s not done correctly it can kill you. Be careful – it’s not worth the risk. Contact a doctor or detox center.