Last week, on my daily stroll through Washington Square Park, I had an honest conversation via text with one of my clients. The sun was shining as we discussed dark times. Eager for help, she asked me several questions about sobriety. Her questions turned into an accidental interview and she helped me come to terms with some things I didn’t even know about myself. She agreed to let me share our convo as long as she remains anonymous. Let’s call her….Amanda…
Amanda: How did you just quit drinking? I always get to this point, where I feel so bad and so guilty. I’ll swear I want to make a change and give up alcohol, then never actually follow through. I’m so sick of my behavior, but I don’t know how to change it and actually stick to it.
Me: After years of “trying on sobriety“, making mistakes, hurting myself and others, I realized that living a party girl lifestyle wasn’t cute anymore. I woke up on Monday, November 30th, 2015 with a terrible headache. I was hungover. Again. I told myself that I’m going to go one week without booze to see how I feel. Then I told my roommate. Then I told my coworkers. Then I told the people I was drinking with the night before. I asked all of these people to help keep me accountable and to please refrain from inviting me out for drinks. That week turned into two weeks. Those two weeks turned into a month. As of today, I’m happy to say that I’m 7 months sober.
How many people respected your decision to stop drinking?
Most people respected my choice. Some people, however, were naively unsupportive. Hell, I had my own apprehensions. I heard it all, “Why are you giving up alcohol for a week?” or “Yea right. Let’s see how long that lasts”. I now realize my ego also played a big part in my early sobriety because I wanted to be right. I wanted to prove people wrong, including myself.
I don’t know if I have it in me to prove anything to anybody. I want to be a better mother and wife and feel better about myself. My drinking is getting more and more out of control. I have to change before I make things worse. Sobriety is such a life changing decision.
I know, girl. I hate that my pride was so important to me at the time. I didn’t realize it until I answered your question. I’m often empowered by skeptics and haters, so I guess that makes sense. You’re right, though. Sobriety is a HUGE decision that can and will affect everyone around you. It will be hard. It will be worth it. Seriously. Day. By. Day.
Have you gone to AA?
I’ve been to one meeting. I had a good time, but it wasn’t for me. I encourage anyone who’s curious about AA to go check it out. The program has helped over 1 million people, including a few of my friends. I’d give it another shot, I just don’t feel called to do so at this time.
Does sobriety ever get ever get easier?
I’m not gonna lie….sobriety is freaking hard. There are times when it’s easier than others, but it’s a daily challenge. I’ve cried more in these 7 months than I’ve cried in my entire life. I try to stay busy as hell. I write daily. I’m training for a half marathon. I take on extra projects at work. I try new work outs. I spend time with people who care about me and elevate me. Equally important, I make sure I have down time. I meditate every morning, cook once a day, reflect weekly, and take time to do absolutely nothing. #netflixnchill
The mornings are the healthiest part of my day. It’s later in the day that I self destruct. If someone saw my morning routine they would think I am the healthiest, happiest person. I meditate, journal, and drink hot water with lemon. Then the evening comes and I am downing a bottle of wine and eating flaming hot Cheetos while feeding the kids cereal for dinner.
Unfortunately, that pattern is pretty common. I rarely wanted to self destruct in the morning. I saw the morning as a fresh, new beginning. Then by the end of the day, I’d be looking for a reason to drink.
What do you do when you’re around alcohol, now?
The smell is overwhelming. It takes me back to a different place each time. I try to stay away from situations with alcohol, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I sometimes find myself staring at people who are drinking whiskey or beer and envy them. I miss the quality taste of craft beers. I miss shooting whiskey. I miss the fun associated with drinking. I miss how it let me “check out” during times of stress. Sometimes I have to remind myself what I don’t miss – the hangovers, the careless spending, the dangerous behavior, the mistakes I’d make…then forget about. I really wish I had a different relationship with alcohol, but I don’t. It is what it is.
Amanda and I continued to chat a bit further, but you get the gist. I’m so grateful for her questions because it got me in touch with how present my ego was and often still is in my recovery. If you have any other sobriety-related questions for me, feel free to reach out at at firstname.lastname@example.org.