If I were not a parent, I am certain that I would still be in active addiction. Nightly wine, weekend binges, and late nights with fellow hard drinkers would still be my reality. When it was just me I was slowly killing, the hurt and pain caused by alcohol seemed inconsequential. After all, it was just me. I was never self-confident, and alcohol reaffirmed to me with harsh, crass whispers that without booze, I was nothing anyway.
It wasn’t until kids came into the picture that I felt my value reach a whole new playing field. With the birth of my first child followed by my second, my responsibility for other people’s lives intrinsically lifted my self-worth. Suddenly, I felt important because they were. Drinking to oblivion—losing awareness of time or space or my ability to control my words and my body—was a much bigger deal. The biggest, in fact. My ability to be there for my little ones meant the potential difference between their life and death. And this tugged at me. Hard.
I knew something would need to change. But to stop drinking entirely? What would that even look like? What kind of life would that be? It all seemed so extreme. Why had I never been able to find that magic place they call “moderation?” What if finding peace in one or two drinks was possible for me? Surely, there was a formula to get me there. If others can find a way to stop at one drink, so can I.
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I read the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace as I grappled with the idea of getting and staying sober. In it, she explains that there will never be peace in drinking. She calls alcohol what it truly is: Poison, and extremely addictive. And she explains we’re all fooling ourselves if we think drinking alcohol is a healthy way to treat our bodies. I’m paraphrasing of course, and I would encourage you to read the whole book (or another recovery memoir) to understand where she’s coming from and her science-based explanation. But to say the book transformed me from the inside out is an understatement. I decided that I didn’t want to moderate; I wanted to quit drinking altogether.
This transformation was not overnight. I’ve been sober for a few years now, and truly it was 365 days of inner turmoil as I tried to learn a new way to live, to cope, and to function. I needed to find new things to look forward to, new things to fuel my fire. And in truth, I needed to discover what in fact fuels me at all. Without alcohol pulsing through my veins, who am I? What kind of person am I?
This year-long transition to sober living—I would not change a single day. A single moment. This past year I learned who I am. I learned about a beautiful, strong woman who was hiding behind layers and layers of fear, and alcohol-soaked filters. Behind all the layers, and behind the mask, awaited a woman and mother who was stronger than I ever imagined. She was also funnier, smarter, and kinder without alcohol.
For the first time in my life, I am at peace knowing I will never drink again. I am happy, giddy even, knowing alcohol will not control me anymore. For someone who could easily drink two bottles of wine in an evening without blacking out, this is some big stuff.
I used to live for the next drink. Now I live for the next breath. I used to drink to numb my brain, my heart, my feelings… Now I feel everything and recognize what my body is trying to tell me.
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I will never drink again. I don’t ever want to drink again. I am at peace with my past, knowing it’s helped me get to where I am today. And I’m at peace with alcohol, knowing it helped me find this inner awareness through the hardships and the addiction. But it does not serve me. It does not serve my family. And today, right now, I’m glad to say goodbye. Thank you, and goodbye.