Today, August 14, 2018, I am clean and sober 10 years.
I have not taken a drink or a drug into my body for an entire decade.
That’s fucking insane.
August 14, 2008…
I had one of the worst hangovers I had ever had. Hell, they were all bad by then.
I’ve got a friend that I met in early recovery and we always used to talk about hangovers–how it’s not the drinking that gets people in the rooms–it’s the physical and mental terror and anguish that comes the morning after.
I wasn’t going to get sober on the 14th. I had a plan. The restaurant I was working at was taking a company trip to a Tiger’s game on August 30th. It would be a complete shitshow. One last hurrah. Then I would wake up, and August 31st would be my first day without a drink.
I never made it to that baseball game.
August 14th was a Thursday. I woke up as I always did–disappointed I hadn’t died in my sleep. Still here.
I rolled my body over towards my bedside table and blindly felt around for the bottle of ibuprofen. I took 6 and washed them down with a few swigs of yellow gatorade.
Always yellow gatorade. Near the end I often mixed gatorade with vodka. I was all about balance you see, even then. Gotta keep that buzz—and those electrolytes, up.
There was something that made this hangover especially unbearable. It wasn’t just the requisite nausea or pounding headache. It wasn’t the absolute horror that would come over me when I thought about looking through my phone to see what humiliating texts or calls I had made. It wasn’t only the uneasiness of trying to piece together the night before: Who did I see? Argue with? Sleep with? Did I drive home? Where is my car?
All of this was the usual. The norm. It’s what I had been living with all of my adult life and much of my teens. All of that wasn’t it though–it wasn’t what made that Thursday so exceptionally intolerable.
It was knowledge. It was knowing.
You see, before I got pulled over for drunk driving and sentenced to do a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do, I didn’t know that there was another way to live.
It was in a required weekly class about alcoholism and addiction that I learned that I might actually have a disease. That it was not necessarily a moral failing, that I wasn’t just a piece of shit who couldn’t get her act together.
It was at a detox center where I was court ordered to volunteer that I realized that I had all the same feelings as people who on the outside, looked as though they had fallen much further. Perhaps they were homeless, and I was not. Perhaps they had used heroin, and I had not. Shame. Loneliness. Despair. Our insides were the same.
It was at the three AA meetings a week that a judge had decreed I attend, that I saw all different types of people who had claimed they hadn’t drank that day–laughing, smiling, and engaged with each other in a way I hadn’t ever seen. I saw a type of connection I was desperate for but terrified of. I saw people who had things I wanted–jobs they could stand going to, healthy relationships, a stable place to call home. They even had things I never knew that I wanted– like clarity and peace of mind, and the ability to respond to problems rationally instead of just react to them emotionally.
On that Thursday, I didn’t just wake up with my usual hangover. It wasn’t the migraine sized headache that left my eye twitching that I couldn’t stand. It wasn’t the diarrhea from my 90% liquid diet that had me in the bathroom till the early afternoon that was too much to take.
It was the knowledge. It was the knowing. It was actually believing that my life could be different. It was understanding that the power was in my hands, that I could make decisions that could lead me along a different path. It was recognizing that help was there, but that I had to be the one to step up and take it.
And then there it was. The fear of staying in the same place finally outgrew my fear of heading out into the unknown.
I went to a meeting that night, gave up all my weekend shifts, and spent the next few days sick as a dog, detoxing violently by myself in my apartment. (I do not recommend this, please, seek medical attention!).
Then, I got help. Lots of help.
I’ve been sober since that day–that Thursday, August 14th, 2008.
So much has happened in between then and now. It would take forever to tell you.
Instead I will just say this: Thank you.
Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me. Thank you to alcoholics and addicts all over the world who have been there to share their story and listen to mine. Thank you to non-addicts, who have reserved judgment, and remained open and willing to gain understanding.
I’m so grateful and proud to be an alcoholic. We’re some tough fucking birds. Gritty as hell. If we can make it through the hell…
Never underestimate the power of your belief in someone. It may just carry them through, till their strong enough to believe in themselves.
Of course this is not the whole story. If you’d like to read a little bit more about my journey with alcoholism, you can find that here. It’s actually my most read piece on the blog. Thanks so much for being open to checking it out.
I’m so glad we’ve found each other in the blogosphere, let’s connect on Instagram as well! I blog once or twice a week but I’m up and “running” 😉 there daily. Please come find me! x