This morning I was thinking back to those early days of sobriety. They seem so far in the past. I felt fragile, like I was walking on glass shards or that at any given moment my life was going to come crashing down.
New sobriety was like becoming a first time parent. You had this beautiful new gift from God but absolutely no clue of how much your life would change and even fewer ideas about how to go about making this life change work.
So, to be cliche, you take each day moment by moment just trying to get through the next hurdle, from trying figure out why this tiny human is wailing in those first months of a child’s life to wondering how you are going to make it through your first weekend without drinking.
I’d like to say I’m so much wiser having two years of sobriety behind me but I’d be lying. The challenges get further apart but you still have to be aware of them or they come back to bite you.
Have you noticed that sober anniversaries seem to bring back that old voice that tells you is OK to drink now? Your mind says “Look, I did this so I deserve to drink”. This is dangerous territory. This line of thinking proves you need to buckle down more than ever and stay vigilant of this stupid fight that you never wanted to be part of.
Stay sober, my friends.
Staying sober is easier than getting sober. That saying brings me back to the numerous times I decided I wasn’t going to drink again. The first couple of days were easy because I was still in the throes of the hangovers from Hell. The kind that make you want to crawl out of your skin and beg to be someone, anyone else who wasn’t feeling that way. I’d be dehydrated from a three day binge and not be able to eat until day three, which was the day my physical self started to feel better but I had to deal with anxiety for at least the next 5 days. Before my own episodes of anxiety, I had always thought anxiety was something that could be controlled if you put your mind to it. I found out that it’s one of the things that could bring me to my knees. It was devastating to have my mind so out of control. Most of my frayed thoughts revolved around how horrible of a person I was because of my drinking episodes. I would panic as I tried to replay what I had said and done while black out drunk.
My resolve to stay dry usually lasted two weeks. By the end of that second week I would be feeling better and decide I could moderate my drinking. The first drink would go down pretty slowly so I would convince myself that I was in control. I would spend the next couple of drinks feeling pissy because I knew I was close to the limit I had set. Once I passed that limit, all bets were off for when I would stop. The vicious cycle of my binge drinking continued. If I stopped, it wasn’t long before I had to start again because my body would be nauseous, shaking and begging for just one more drink because that was going to make everything better.
I don’t know why I stopped binge drinking on November 2, 2013. I mean, I know why I stopped after that last binge but I don’t know why this time was different from any other. Maybe it was because I gave myself enough time away from drinking to realize how much better I felt staying sober.
I still have days that suck. Every day doesn’t feel like the best day of my life but it’s better than the hell that I was living.
Even after two years of waking up sober, I haven’t committed to never drinking again. For now, I’m happy with, “I’m not drinking today”.