In my introduction post, I said I was tired of the highs and lows of drinking, so I made a change. I might have made that sound a little, or A LOT, easier than it actually was. My slow crawl to becoming alcohol-free started Spring of 2014. My actual sober date is March 8, 2015. The path to sobriety is NOT always linear.
When I was 26 years old, I was lost. It was one of those “old enough to know better, too young to care” phases for me. Despite looking like a responsible semi-adult, having two jobs, a mortgage and a heck of a lot of potential, I had unresolved issues I had been running from for way too long. That, mixed with an unhealthy dose of societal pressure, made me feel like a big failure.
I was going out to bars a few times a week but drinking almost nightly. My drinking was the only thing I THOUGHT I could control. This behavior was different from my nights out in college though. Don’t get me wrong, alcohol and I have never played well together, but this type of drinking was with the clear intention of shutting off my brain. It was my necessary evil – the perfect formula to numb my self-awareness and more importantly, diffuse the self-hatred and anxiety (temporarily.)
Typical Night: Meet a friend for happy hour (hammered), go to a pool hall (sketchy), play Van Morrison on the jukebox (amazing), cry on the bar (alone), drive myself home (dumb), pass out in my driveway (hanging halfway out of my car.)
I know…if you’re a normal human being, you’re probably thinking that a lot of awful things could have happened to me, but I didn’t care. I’m pretty sure “I don’t give a f*ck” was my catch phrase back then. I felt like the world was out to get me, and that notion alone, gave me a pass to be this wreck of a girl behind closed doors. It’s kind of scary how good I was at keeping it together considering I was so broken and SO angry on the inside. I was a functioning alcoholic with years of resentment to fuel the fire.
After about 6 months of this binge drinking, pity party, I took a small step towards change. I realized this deep rooted anger wasn’t magically going to fade away, so I contacted a therapist. “WOW, what a relief! I googled AND emailed a therapist!” (I didn’t go see her for another 2 months.)
I’m not entirely sure why it was so tough to take that step. It may have been the fear of giving up control or that deep down I knew I was capable of becoming a better version of myself and I was scared to meet her. Either way, I didn’t want that kind of accountability. What if I was “fixed” and still not truly “happy?” It seemed like a lot more work than pouring myself a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey.
Needless to say, I was nervous about therapy. I knew it was going to hurt. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable. I knew it was going to uncover years of resentment I had worked so hard to repress. But, of course, I knew EVERYTHING then.
During the first visit, I totally had my walls up. All I could focus on was how much my therapist looked like Stevie Nicks. I kept waiting for her to compare my problems to lyrics from Landslide or at the very least, break for a badass wardrobe change during our session.
After a few meetings, I finally allowed myself to experience A LOT of feelings I had been avoiding, all of the emotions that alcohol could never absorb. Stevie (we’ll just call her that) was the first person to warn me that I was going down a dangerous path with my drinking. And although I valued Stevie’s expert opinion, my non-drinking stint only lasted 4 months before I reminded myself I knew EVERYTHING.
I was under the impression that without so much of my previous anger and resentment, alcohol could not possibly have a negative impact on me anymore. I thought since I had a grasp on my inner demons I could drink in moderation. FALSE! Unfortunately, that is not how it worked for me.
Although my sobriety did not last the first go-round, I knew I had it in me to try again once I was ready. I want you to know that a step in the right direction will always be better than living behind the fear of change.
I’m forever grateful for therapy and Stevie’s advice. Her genuine concern started my journey, but I wasn’t ready to fully trust the process for myself. It wasn’t until I wanted to fight, every single day, for a more positive lifestyle, that sobriety was even a possibility for me.
As for me being a know-it-all, I think Socrates said it best, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
*Things that have worked for me may not be the solution for you. Please remember that everyone is different and there is always more than one way to do something effectively. I don’t want anyone to think what has worked for me is one-size fits all. Feel free to comment with any questions you have!