I still remember the moment when my therapist sat across the room from me and told me I should go to rehab for my drinking. I sat in my car and cried. And cried. I knew in my heart my drinking was an issue, but hearing someone else tell me that out loud made it all too real.
So, I quit drinking. For a month. And then I hopped right back on the alcohol train, convincing myself I had it under control. That I wasn’t as bad as the “real” alcoholics.
And to the outside world, it appeared that I was doing just fine. I had gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship and entered into a new healthy and loving one.
I stopped going out every weekend and started adventuring and trying new things. I changed up my social circle to no longer surround myself with party friends and to invest my time and energy into deepening my soul-nourishing friendships.
The sparkle was back in my eye and I had finally started to get my life in order.
All of this was true. So much had changed in my life—so much positive, incredible growth and healing.
But the one thing that hadn’t changed was my inability to control my drinking. The frequency of my drinking may have decreased, but the amount I consumed when I did drink was not decreasing. I had completely lost control of having any “off switch”.
It became a coin toss every single time I drank—a 50/50 chance—of whether I’d control myself or allow the alcohol to take charge.
I would figure out how I could get as many drinks in as possible without people noticing. At times, I hid beer cans from my boyfriend so he wouldn’t know I was drinking them.
I thought ahead to social situations to ensure there’d be alcohol available. And I’d be nervous if there wasn’t. Or I’d think it didn’t sound as fun. Drinking before events to take away any social anxiety was my go-to.
I made a million promises to myself of how to pace my drinking—only X amount of drinks, drink a glass of water in between each drink, no hard alcohol, stop drinking at a certain time, the list goes on. And I managed to break nearly every single one of those promises.
Blacking out was my new norm. If I could remember everything, I considered it a “good” night or day of drinking.
My mornings were filled with so much shame and embarrassment and regret and all too often a pounding headache or upset stomach.
Sometimes others could obviously pick up on my hot mess express. But other times, I just came across like a fun girl down to have a good time. I had gotten really good at masking my suffering with a smile. And a drink.
The effects of my drinking were becoming glaringly horrendous. I may not have gotten a DUI or lost my job—what society coins as “acceptable” rock bottoms—but nonetheless I felt my heart being shattered drink after drink after drink.
I realized that if I didn’t find a way to end my destructive relationship with alcohol, I was going to end up in a dark, lonely, and even more painful place than I already was.
I couldn’t do that. I loved myself more than that. I owed myself more than that.
I decided to stop drinking cold turkey one morning. After a 10-year streak of it, my day had finally come to walk away from alcohol for good.
It was by far one of the scariest things I have ever done. And yet, to this day, it is the decision in my life that I am most proud of.
Those early days of sobriety are honestly kind of a blur. I just kept going day by day by day without drinking until those days added up to weeks and added up to months.
It’s like I was given a super-human strength to do something I never imagined possible.
That’s the thing about life. You don’t think you can do that hard thing until you just start. Until you just try. It doesn’t matter if you succeed in the first attempt or fail hundreds of times.
You just keep going. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you will amaze yourself at what you’re capable of, I promise.
I now get to look at myself and say, “You didn’t give up, sweet girl. You kept fighting. You did it. And you continue to do it every single moment that you are choosing to show up for yourself in this life. I love you so much.“