Today I am on my 5th day of sobriety. Funny how 4 days ago seemed so bleak. That’s how it always goes, though. This isn’t my first time on this journey and hope to God it’s my last. I know this amazing energy, clear thinking, glowing skin, and bright eyes always return about this time. And although I love it, it scares the hell out of me. Because this is the precise time when it’s easy to forget how you felt just 4 days ago. But there’s always this little part of the being saying, “This time it’s going to be different.” And you hope the same sentiment is still there when 5 o’clock rolls around.
My life wasn’t always this way, and one I never imagined living. As a kid in the 80s, afternoon television was broken up with personal injury and trade or truck driving education commercials. The adult world must be filled with calamity and joblessness, I thought. But it was the ominous, in your face ads that really stuck with me… “This is your brain on drugs” and “Nobody ever says I want to be a junkie when I grow up”. Or the alcohol rehab advertisements warning about the risks of drinking alone. Of course, I didn’t aspire to become a junkie or an alcoholic. These people seemed defeated, lonely, sick, and dejected. If only they had better control, they wouldn’t be in this situation. I overestimated what little control people actually have.
Control is a funny thing. Like most of us, I enjoy the feeling of control. As my childish optimism faded away, I felt less and less in control. My small world opened to a much larger space and with that, I learned how life can take a quick turn and all you can do is go with it. In instances of rape and gaining a certain reputation, infidelity and heartache, emotional and psychological abuse, and loss and grief over the one you love best, there’s no taking the wheel to set things straight.
During financial crash in 2008 and the events that ensued, a well-meaning family member suggested I take what I can from their liquor cabinet. Whether they were half joking, I’ll never know because I was too lost and drunk to care. Every day I woke to a bad dream and looked forward to guzzling Cosmos, Mojitos, wines from around the world, and even emptied the disgustingly sweet and thickened dessert wine when all else was gone. Unknown to me at the time, this is when I began my 13-year love affair with alcohol.
Loss, heartache, resentment, fear, guilt, and a shrewd case of self-hate left a hole in my heart. Alcohol filled the broken space. With my new best friend, I could loosen up and appear witty, charming, sophisticated, and likeable in the moment. By morning, I was back to my old self, but worse for wear. Aside from bouts of flu or too sick from the night before or those few days when I tried and failed, this cycle continued until 4 nights ago.
So, here I am on my 5th day. I have turned down alcohol on 3 occasions so far. In their defense, they are unaware of my struggles, and I don’t dare say a word just in case I foul things up again… That only leads to feeling more shame and helplessness. But even though I keep my secret to myself for now, I can say I feel no shame or helplessness. It’s quite the opposite, and it feels amazing to go about my day without the boozy headache, confusion, and looming anxiety. My world is no longer hazy, and I can feel my body thanking me already.
Why do some of us fall for the lure and trickery of alcohol? I hate I fell for it. Sure, it takes away the heartache and grief for a while, but it takes away so much more… time, peace, and happiness. I picked up a copy of the Big Book. I’ve put it off for a long time because, to me, owning the Big Book means I have a problem… I’m out of control. The irony, though, is I feel more in control now than I have for a long time.