A year ago, my life looked very different. I was sick and unhappy. I didn’t realize how sick I was at the time, nor did I fully understand what was causing me to feel miserable. It wasn’t until I lost so many things that were important to me, including respect for myself, that I realized what I had to do.
By the end of my drinking career, I was drinking too much and too frequently. I was drinking to numb all emotions- bad and good. The first thing I thought in the morning was “God, I can’t wait to get drunk tonight.” My first stop after work would either be the liquor store or the bar. My social life revolved around drinking. My free time revolved around drinking. I’d spend days off from work recovering from drinking, and every morning I had to have 1,000 mg of ibuprofen and two Tums just to function.
I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought everybody did this. I tried to cut back on my drinking, cashing out after a couple days, or sometimes, just a couple hours. It was frustrating to find myself at the mercy of the bottle again, it felt like failure. Alcohol tasted like failure. But feeling drunk was addicting. I was a confident social butterfly when I drank. Nothing scared me. I could talk freely about anything to anyone. It felt good. It was a non-stop party. Booze unlocked me. I drank everyday with the goal of getting blackout, chasing my first drunk. If I didn’t get blackout, it felt like a waste of effort. I got so angry. In the last six months of drinking, it got harder to achieve blackout. I was angry, hungover, and sad all the time.
A year after my first drink, I started to realize I had a problem. However, I justified to myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic- I just drank a bit too much sometimes, and once I learned how to control my drinking, I could drink like other normal drinkers. I tried cutting down on the number of drinks. I tried switching alcohol. I tried drinking more water. I tried only drinking on certain days. I eventually got to the point where I cut out healthy habits to make room for drinking. I cut down my caloric intake of food so I could drink more alcohol. I tried working out excessively so I could drink more alcohol. If I knew I wanted to get blackout, I wouldn’t eat all day so the first thing in my stomach would be booze. My addiction only spiraled, and I was in complete denial.
Only a couple people knew how bad I was struggling. And by not realizing the scope of my problem and the destruction it caused, I let those people down.
In misunderstanding the cause of my problems, I made some decisions that drastically changed my life-none of those decisions were quitting alcohol. Instead, I burned through relationships, lived fast and gave into every impulsive whim. I thought I achieved *freedom*, but in reality, I was displacing my problems onto something else. What followed was an acute worsening of my drinking, anhedonic depression, and some terrible circumstances. I survived a suicide attempt and STILL continued to drink. I survived forced detox and managed to scrape together two weeks of sobriety, before reintroducing beers/seltzers/malts. I thought I was fine. I thought I learned how to control my drinking. At first, it was one drink every couple of days. Then one drink every day. Then two drinks every day. I used to hate feeling high, but I started to use weed a lot more to fill the void I felt without alcohol. Then eventually, I found myself at a bar drinking wine, liquor, and taking shots all over again. One night, I went home with someone I shouldn’t have, and officially hit rock bottom. And I STILL kept drinking.
I thought this was my death sentence. I thought alcohol would be the thing that killed me, and that it would happen soon. I thought I was doomed to a life of misery, extinguished self-worth, and inability to control my demons.
One day, by the grace of God, I felt sick and tired of being sick and tired. I wanted a change. I wanted to get better. I wanted to fix my life, and live the life I’ve always dreamt of. I wanted to grow old and die happy, and not succumb to the disease of addiction. I decided that I would quit drinking wine and liquor (my “problem” alcohols) in 2022.
All of December, I waited anxiously for January 1st. I had to isolate with COVID midway through December, and drank nearly every night through it, justifying it as a final hoorah. But I wasn’t having fun anymore. On Christmas, I drank a lot. Like, throughout the day I probably had two bottles of wine. By the end of the night, I still wasn’t blackout drunk. I was disappointed, trying to have a good time. So I switched to vodka and had a sip. I was standing by the kitchen sink when I realized I have a choice: I don’t have to wait until January 1 to quit drinking. I could quit right now, and I never have to look back. It was an out-of-body experience pouring that drink down the drain.
I cried hard that night. I cried thinking about all the things I’d lost as a a result of my drinking, especially over the last year. I cried thinking about the hard work I had ahead of me, in working towards sobriety. I cried worried that my newfound motivation to quit drinking would only last a couple months before I was blacking out again. I cried because I am an educated nurse, and I’ve always been fascinated by the disease of addiction, and I thought this couldn’t happen to me. I cried because it happened. I cried because it was over.
Today, I celebrate 226 days sober from wine & liquor and 102 days sober from malts (beers, seltzers, etc.)! What works for me is taking it One Day at a Time. I’m involved in the program of AA, and I’m working the steps. I’m also utilizing other methods of Recovery, because I strongly believe in a rounded approach. One size does not fit all. Now that I am sober, I really truly enjoy sitting in my emotions-good and bad- without feeling that I need to drink over them. It’s so liberating. This is *freedom*.
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