AnonymousApril 19, 2017 at 12:00 amPost count: 10
I grew up in a culture where nightly heavy drinking was considered okay or even sophisticated. Even though I saw firsthand how alcohol could lead to embarrassment, injury, and regret, I still considered this normal. With the best intentions, I was given wine and beer in moderation as a child to “develop my palate.” By the time I was a teenager, I started getting drunk for fun. At 20 this developed into long stretches of nightly (and sometimes daily) drinking. I also frequently abused drugs. Around the same time in my life, as a consequence (I now understand), my mind started to darken. I developed anxiety and depression and had suicidal thoughts. I also slowly started to lose my passions. The decline would progress slowly, until around age 25 my drinking was always nightly and I felt miserable every day. I sometimes got the shakes and had other strange problems. I started to wonder if I should quit entirely, but what kept me back was the belief that I could “master” the drinking and learn how to drink in moderation. I also had a relatively high-functioning life, with a good job and a good degree, and I paid my bills. But inside, my mind and spirit were very damaged, and I desperately tried to moderate to save myself, setting up a series of rules for myself that would all sooner or later crumble. Periods of moderation were very short-lived, and sometimes rebound would result in binges. I still tried to tell myself I didn’t have a problem because no one knew about the debt I was racking up, the sketchy encounters I had with strangers, or the risky situations I put myself in. Soon, drinking lost all pleasure, and by 28 I was going through the motions, getting drunk but hating it every night, and deeply afraid of the body pains I felt and the numb tingling in my feet and hands. Without knowing why I was putting myself through it, I kept drinking. By this point I had lost all other interests and couldn’t imagine a sober life. I also had no idea how to socialize without drinking. The idea of quitting seemed hopeless.
A few events shook me up enough to get me to the point of quitting. An acquaintance committed suicide, which was deeply unsettling and forced me to re-examine my life and confront my depression. My boyfriend very gently but persistently encouraged me to seek counseling. When I finally went, the counselor explained self-esteem to me in a way that revolutionized my thinking. I understood finally how my self-sabotaging worked and the role drinking played in it. Finally, I had one last really bad experience with drinking. On a surface level, it wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to me when I was drinking, but it was ugly. After consuming a third of a fifth of gin and about 1.5 bottles of wine, I got in a senseless, very aggressive fight with my boyfriend and smacked him—not hard enough to do damage, but enough to shake me up. The fight we had that night, even though I was wasted, is extremely clear in my mind. I’d often woken up the next day, swearing I’d quit, but this was the first time in the middle of the drinking binge I had the strong sense of what was I was risking. I realized I could to put alcohol at the front of my life and suffer the consequences—jeopardizing my relationships and everything else—or I could quit. The next morning, I loaded up all my alcohol in my car, drove over to my boyfriend’s house, and left it on his steps with a letter explaining how I felt and why I wanted to try quitting, regardless of what it had to do with our fight or relationship. I joined Addiction to Rehabilitation that day and read as much as I could. For me, getting to the point where I would join an online community was significant. It meant I was accepting the reality of the problem. I did not drink again.
My very supportive boyfriend helped me immensely in the first few weeks, as did my counselor; what helped most of all was coming here to Addiction to Rehabilitation to read and communicate with others in my same situation. I was amazed at how quickly my senses came back to me. I felt like even my vision improved – I could suddenly see the world around me. I also started to laugh again. It shocked me to realize that I hadn’t genuinely laughed at anything unless I was drinking for as long as I could remember. But this was real laughter, from the gut, even at stupid stuff. But my joy in the early days was evenly matched by sorrow. The first couple of months were marked with extreme ups and down. I mourned the loss; it was difficult for me to imagine never drinking again, even in celebrations where it’s considered part of a ritual. It helped to keep in mind the concept of “one day at a time” as I slowly worked on greater acceptance. My sense of time in the early days was also completely off. The evenings would stretch out endlessly without booze to fill my time. Slowly, life came back to me. I accepted that alcoholism was out of my control. I now see it as part of my fundamental make-up; I’m not wired to drink in moderation. Every time I drank, it was like a game of roulette, and I had no idea if I would get off easy or end up who knows where. The awareness that I would return to this if I drank again kept me going in those hard first days. Also, people here at Addiction to Rehabilitation told me it would get easier, which was a powerful motivator (and absolutely true).
Life continued to improve as my recovery advanced. Not drinking is, in many ways, the simplest part of recovery. The harder parts involve dealing with the things that made me want to drink or turn to alcohol as the “easy” solution to my problems. I have accepted I have many flaws, but at the end of the day, I can only work on them, like anyone else, and I’m really an okay person. My thinking has changed radically over the last year. Positive thinking, gratitude, and meditation all seemed foreign to me before, but I willingly embrace them now. I strive for serenity and I know that I am best off when I see myself in perspective, as something small in a big universe. I take more responsibility for myself than I ever did before. I am learning how to be patient and how to let go of self-pity and situations outside of my control. The external reflections of these internal changes are pretty amazing. In just a year, I’ve lost weight, reversed my financial situation, maintained healthier relationships, and accomplished several big personal goals I’ve been trying to achieve for years. I am very confident that all these things are the result of the changed I’ve made in recovery. I’m about four times happier than I was last year at this time. I have hope now, which I didn’t have before, and I face each day the best I can. My life isn’t perfect, and I still experience ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade my sobriety for anything. I do not miss alcohol. I feel free now. I believe quitting is the best thing I have ever done, and I know I could not have done it on my own. I am grateful to all my friends and the moderators here. You are truly changing lives.
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