I’m begrudgingly still sober. After two years one would think I’d finally forget about drinking. Most days that statement is true. There’s still fleeting moments where the thought crosses my mind.
I miss being able to binge drink my way into oblivion, not caring about anything other than my next drink. I don’t get to check out anymore and some days it really sucks.
One of my jobs has drastically changed. I have a new boss and several new coworkers. The new boss part has been great as he gave me my own office (I’m a part time temporary employee of 6 years) and left the others in their cubicles. He also gave me a 28% raise. I hadn’t had a raise in 5 years. My old boss (whom was demoted after serving the company for 29 years) claimed it was impossible to get.
With the new coworkers comes challenges. One is working with a 23 year old college graduate who knows everything and believes she has the power to change even the most dour personality into Susie Sunshine. This woman is the same age as my oldest daughter. I’m trying not to mother her but it’s tough. I’m sure I was exactly like her at that age but it’s annoying most days. I gave this person a year before she became hardened to the corporate way of life. It took her less than six months.
We have to work closely so we spend a good deal of time together. This girl will not give one inch if she thinks her way is better. It’s hard for me not to want to bang my head on the wall as I say, “sometimes experience knows more than education”. I never dreamed I’d be the old lady (I’m 47) giving wisdom to today’s youth.
This young woman is very much a loner in life. She doesn’t date and doesn’t have many friends. She prefers to do everything alone. She only tries to get to know people if she feels it will benefit her in some way. She has no interest in my personal life and has gone so far as to leave mid conversation.
We are polar opposites. I love getting to know people and work hard to earn their respect. I’m a people pleaser and have always put others before myself.
After 8 months butting heads with and observing her, she came to me for advice. I was shocked. We had been on a business trip together where I saw her vulnerability. She asked me to go out for drinks. She had only half listened when I told her that I don’t drink anymore as I showed her my sobriety app that read 800 days. She tried to convince me that it would be ok for me to drink with her for just that night. She proceeded to tell me how much fun I’d be if I drank. It really pissed me off. Not because she wasn’t thinking about me as I knew how self centered she is, but because I realized that I can never just go have drinks with anyone. Sure I could go along and drink water but it’s not the same.
Every day, I try to remember that this person was put here to teach me something. I have decided it is patience.
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”.
I need to vent. I have been working really long hours between the sign shop and my agricultural job. I’ve been walking 7 miles a day in corn fields for the ag job and my body is tired. I now have plantar facitis. Thursday, I worked 9 hours in the sign shop and went to the other job to put in three more hours. I was carrying a box into the field (wearing my tennis shoes instead of the regular hiking boots) and tripped on a rock and went flying. I immediately felt pain in my left rib cage but landed on my hands and knees. I worked Friday but was in severe pain. I rested most of the weekend.
When I awoke yesterday, I couldn’t take a breath without intense pain. My mom talked me into going to urgent care where they immediately did an ekg. Their machine was old and the tech had a hard time getting the machine to respond. She kept pushing on the leads to make it work. The medical assistant came back and said there were suspicious readings and that I should go immediately to the emergency room but I should be ok to drive. All the way there I’m thinking that no one on either side of my family has heart problems and surely this can’t be a heart attack because I’m driving myself.
The ER gets me in quickly after I get through the metal detector (I live in a rough city). They do another ekg which takes all of one minute and put me in a room after getting a urine sample. They then take blood and a chest xray. They put me back in the room and hook me up to a heart monitor and make me wait 6 hours while the machine beeps the entire time. My mother insisted on coming up and entertaining me. She said it was
obvious I wasn’t dying since no one was coming to check.
Next thing I know, some young student comes in to say he’s putting an IV in and says I’m being admitted. I’m like, “Whoa, hold on there. I haven’t even talked to a doctor. I need to speak to someone.” I’m completely freaked out because I know that I have a pulled muscle in my rib cage and don’t need to be admitted.
Before I know it, the nurse comes in with a shot of muscle relaxer, takes off all the equipment and tells me to get dressed because I’m going home. I still hadn’t spoken to a doctor.
The doctor finally comes in and says everything is normal. She wants me to rest a day. She tries to give me pain medication but it’s limited due to the gastric bypass. I opt for Tylenol and Flexoril and go home.
I’m just really pissed because this was all so unnecessary. The worse part is that I’m the safety technician at work where we have over 4000 days without a reportable injury. Because I went to the doctor and received treatment, it’s considered a reportable accident and if I report it there will be a big investigation which I’ll have to conduct. I did tell my boss I fell after it happened but I don’t want to be the one to wreck the record. I’m such an honest person that this is killing me. I have a call in to my boss to see how he wants me to proceed. I feel like this was my fault. I’m not a litigious person so I’m not going to sue the company. I just want this all to go away. I don’t want to lose my job.
None of this has anything to do with staying sober other than in the old days, nothing would’ve felt better than drowning my pain and sorrow. But I won’t because in two weeks, I’ll have two years sober.