Today I will take my youngest child to live in the dorms at a Big Ten University. I’ve spent the last 22 years of my life focused on my children. Now that they have both flown the nest I’m not sure what my new goals in life will be. I’ll have time to sit and think and hopefully not drink.
Since summer had passed me by without so much as having one fun excursion, I decided to take my daughter and her boyfriend on a trip down a river floating on an inner tube (tubing). I asked my mom if she wanted to go. She’s always up for an adventure and wasted no time inviting two of her friends. So, the six of us packed ourselves into my vehicle and began the two hour trip to the river. I felt like I was a bus driver and was thankful that I didn’t have a hangover.
The river was chilly and the sky was overcast but we didn’t let that stop us. (What it did stop me from was using sun screen. I knew better. Water + virgin white skin + eventual sun = ridiculous sunburn.) The idea behind tubing is going with the flow of the river. It’s nearly impossible to fight the current so you learn to go with it.
Going with the flow takes some getting used to when you normally try to control every aspect of your life. The current may pull you to the left bank when your group is a quarter mile to the right. Just go with it I told myself. It reminded me of drinking. Sometimes people are drinking over there on that side of the room while you’re over here on your own. Just go with it. It’ll all work out. And it does work out to my surprise. After being separated from the group, we all ended up at the same destination but some of us took a different route.
All in all, it was a relaxing four hour trip down the river with family and friends. In my drinking days, I would’ve been hung over and all thoughts would’ve been about how soon I could get that first drink in me. Lucky for me, my family is mostly non drinking because most who go tubing bring an extra tube for the cooler filled with alcohol. (Sadly, booze and water activities don’t mix well. A young man was drinking last week on this same river trip and got out to go to the bathroom and drowned. They didn’t find his body for a few days.) I’m grateful to be with people who can have fun without drinking.
So today I stay goodbye to my longest career of being a full time mother to both of my daughters. I’ll be waiting in the wings watching them soar and feeling proud of the two best things that ever happened in my life.
Several people have come to me via Facebook and WordPress asking for my help in getting sober. First off, I have no training in sobriety other than my own sometimes flailing attempts. It boggles my mind that anyone would think that I could be helpful to them.
My nature has always been to go above and beyond helping people to the extent of putting myself last. In the past, I would do just about anything for anyone in the hopes of gaining their acceptance. I suppose this came from years of overcompensating due to suffering from super morbid obesity. When you’re fat, you have to work extra hard at getting people to realize you are human. Letting others walk all over you becomes second nature. But, this is not where I was going with this. I felt I should explain that I’ve always enjoyed helping others despite their intentions as well as my own.
Disappointment creeps in as I watch so many people struggle with their own issues with alcohol. I’m disappointed because I want them to break free. I want them to see that they are capable of living a life free of alcohol and all of the problems that booze brings with it. At the same time, I feel like a hypocrite because I had more than my share of Day 1’s. I did not succeed in sobriety the first or fiftieth time I tried. I don’t want others with alcohol problems to think that I am looking down at them because I’ve chosen to get sober. I have no place in judging anyone. Human nature tells us to judge and I suppose we all do. There’s always that little voice that makes us shake our head as we listen to another story about how alcohol is negatively affecting someone’s life. I want to yell at them and tell them that the only cure is to stop drinking no matter what but I remember being afraid of life without booze. The only way for one to know that it’s going to be ok is to get far enough away from drinking to gain some of the benefits of sobriety.
My boyfriend of nearly 5 years is struggling. He strings together a few weeks of not drinking and claims that because he can quit so easily, he doesn’t have a problem. It’s so frustrating to watch his cycles. This brings on binges where he spends days texting me (we live an hour apart) derogatory things about what a horrible person I am. This cycle happens at least once a month if not more often and he claims that it is due to his bipolar disorder. I’ve pointed out that he never treats me like that when he’s not drinking. Drinking brings out his insecurities about himself and our relationship. He doesn’t realize how detrimental his behavior is to our relationship as well as his own well being.
I’ve painted a picture of him here that makes many people question why I would stay with him. I know I appear to be that sad abused person who justifies why she stays with someone who clearly doesn’t appear to have her best interests at heart. Nothing I can say here will convince anyone that he is good for me. We are great together when we aren’t drinking. I’ve read comments from this blog to him and he seemed to genuinely care about my feelings about alcohol. He claims that my sobriety has opened his eyes to living a life without booze and how much better my life is and his could be. But his battle is his to fight. I cannot control him or make him see that long term sobriety is the only way to live for someone with alcohol issues. He has to see that on his own as we all do.
The boyfriend told me last night that he was thinking about drinking but he knew he wasn’t going to. He sat with the feelings instead of acting on them and said that they had passed. It took a few hours, but the feelings went away. This was a break through for him. My best advise to anyone who is struggling to string more than a few days of not drinking together is “don’t drink right now”. If you have to, go minute by minute. Sit with your feelings of wanting to drink instead of acting on them. Scream and yell if you have to. Go for a walk or go to bed at 6 PM in order to carry you on to your next sober minute. I promise that the feelings of wanting a drink will pass and you will be relieved as well as a little proud of yourself.
It’s hard to believe that if I was pregnant, I’d be almost full term. Instead, I have 9 solid months of sobriety under my belt and a better outlook on life.
It seems that 9 months is the magic time frame for people to relapse. Something creeps in and makes you think that you can handle just one. My plan is to stay strong and continue down the sober path that I have begun.