It seems like everyone has a story to tell. My social media news feeds are littered with links to blogs describing stories of wedding planners gone mad, and kids’ crayons melted into car seats. I guess you can say I’m hopping on that wagon, in more ways than one. The only difference is, I’m sharing a less glamorous portrayal of life. I don’t have kids, I’m not a cook, and I don’t have the end all cure for cellulite. I’m writing for those of us who struggle with something a lot less cute than a crying two-year old. I’m writing about my story of a relationship that is high maintenance, kicks you when you’re down, yet you can’t seem to leave it. A relationship that goes by many names, and manifests itself in people of all shapes and sizes. I’m writing this with the hopes of helping anyone out there, who stops and says, “That sounds just like me. I’m not alone!” I hope that you can learn, find comfort, or simply be entertained by my stories. In return, I hope to find comfort in knowing that there are others out there like me. Now here I am, ready to show the world, me in progress.
I’d officially hit my rock bottom. For years I’d struggled with a drinking problem. Alcohol slowly trickled into my daily thoughts. I became consumed with thinking about when I’d get my next drink, restocking on my way home and even at the movies I’d be impatient for the ending so I could drink. Eventually, these thoughts expanded to include the overwhelming guilt about the amount I drank. My obsessive thinking ran to the amount of calories I just consumed, what permanent damage I may have caused my body and telling myself I needed to cut back. Did I have enough money in my bank account to pay the bar tab? And then there was the embarrassment for acting like I had the night before. These thoughts took up so much real estate in my mind that I had little room for much else.
Throughout my adult years, I engaged in the typical twenty-something activities; attending college, spending time with friends, hanging out at local bars and restaurants. I always viewed my behavior as typical for someone my age which usually consisted of consuming alcohol at nearly every event. Every activity seemed to include drinking alcohol in some form, whether at a sporting event, backyard BBQ, holiday party – the list goes on. This behavior continued until I realized that it was not normal. And then I swept those thoughts under the rug and continued down the dark path in complete denial. I realized that alcohol was becoming a priority and also a crutch in processing emotions, handling responsibilities, and addressing the stresses of everyday life. The numbing effects became my go-to answer for dealing with anything difficult or anxiety inducing. That was my solution until I found that the more I drank, the more unmanageable my life became.
At the end of last year, I started making some major lifestyle changes. I’m not just talking about a healthier physical body, but also a healthier mind and soul. I started eating cleaner, making my own bath and body products, and trying to eliminate many of the toxins in my life. After years of smoking, I kicked that habit to the curb and finally, I made a huge step to reduce how much I drank. I realized that my healthy efforts were flushed down the toilet with my twelve pack of Miller Lite. I began with switching the type of drink I consumed, avoiding aluminum cans, and purchasing trustworthy brands. This change lasted only so long, and before I knew it, I was back to my Miller Lite, and catching up for lost time. As my path became darker and darker, I began to draw a clear line between my relationship with alcohol and the stress in my life.
This understanding flipped a switch for me. I understood that the only way I could achieve my full potential in life was through complete abstinence from alcohol. I knew that in order to be successful in sobriety, I needed to reach out to those in recovery who have gone before me and who are going through the same changes as me. So, after many hours of Googling, I joined various online communities. The experience of sharing my story, as well as learning from others has provided more comfort and sense of belonging than I can possibly describe.
So, here I am, days shy of my one year “soberversary” telling you that life without alcohol is possible and that life is so much better on the other side. Sure, you’ll have your difficult moments, but nothing worth having is ever easy. If my story sounds familiar, ask yourself – what is it you want from life? You have choices! I’m a work in progress, but I’m finally figuring out that I cannot find the answer to this question or make sane choices if I’m obsessed with alcohol. And that’s why I won’t drink today!