Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time to Decide

I know at this time last year I was hungover. And asleep. There was probably an empty glass of water beside my bed. I'd probably been up drinking until who knows when- I was getting really deep into my drinking at this point- blacking out almost every time.

Thinking about it now, I can still pick out things to blame. Excuses for having a bottle of wine by 8 o'clock a few times a week. My job was in an awful place. I needed wine to be able to hang out with the kids and not go batshit crazy. I never saw my husband and the only way we could spend time together was to drink together after he got home from work. I wasn't walking the dogs enough. I didn't know what to make for dinner. Life is hard. Blah blah blah.

I was charging full speed ahead into full on alcoholism.

Each trip to the store I was buying not one but two bottles of wine. And a twelve pack of beer, to be sure I would have enough. This seemed like a lot, but not like too much. I might have to share. I was adding seltzer to my wine to make it last longer because I'd started finishing the bottles too fast. I'd started drinking bottles of Prosecco since sparkling means celebrating and there's nothing wrong with that.

I can still picture myself in the kitchen after two glasses getting dinner ready. The boys in front of the TV. Me sneaking out into the back yard to smoke just one more cigarette and then finish dinner. I picture this shell that was me, but not me. I picture me, but I was vacant, disappearing. More wine, dinner, bath, stories. The relief of the back porch when everyone was in bed. The annoyance when one of them would get up and come find me.

It's really hard to remember this stuff. To think about my little boys in their pajamas standing at the porch door wanting me, but I wasn't emotionally there. How they must not have understoond why I wouldn't pay attention to them, or leave the back porch to tuck them in one more time. Maybe they didn't see it as unusual, but I knew it was wrong. They never knew what mom to expect. I suspect they were starting to know which one to expect: none at all.

It's hard to think of my husband coming home from work and finding me in some sort of drunken state chain smoking on the porch. How much that must have sucked. How I would launch into some big talk about how he wasn't good enough at being a husband, or father, or housekeeper, or person, or whatever. How I unloaded all the stuff I hated about myself onto him. I made it about him instead of me. He never knew what wife to expect. I suspect he was starting to want no wife at all.

But I always knew what to expect. I was either going to be drinking or hungover, or in one of those two to five day spaces of trying to not drink. And I was always going to have that tape playing in my head- the greatest hits version of "You Suck At Life" playing over and over again.

There comes this time in all of our lives when we have to decide.

And I'm not talking about "I need to" or "I want to" or "I'm going to try".

I'm talking about "I AM".

It was not until I told myself "I AM GOING TO BE SOBER" and "I AM NOT DRINKING" that I did it.

There's a difference in the way "I AM" and "I WANT TO" is. "I AM" means it. "I WANT TO" gives you an out. "I WANT TO" means that you mean it in the morning when you feel awful and hungover, but that when later rolls around and you're having a drink it's OK, because you didn't say you were going to quit. You just said you wanted to.

It was not until I told myself "I AM GOING TO BE SOBER" and "I AM NOT DRINKING" that I did it.

The biggest thing I remember from the last day I woke up hungover and said "FROM THIS MOMENT ON I AM NEVER DRINKING AGAIN" is the relief. I was laying there, it was noon. I decided. I put down my weapons and surrendered. I felt that surrender, deep deep down. "I AM GOING TO BE OK." I wasn't sure that could be be true, but I believed it anyway. 

I knew that there were going to be two ways things would turn out. My truth would either be "I AM AN ALCOHOLIC" or "I AM ALIVE". I had to decide.

It's one of those things sitting here writing to y'all and me. If I said what I want to I would say just this: Quit. Quit right now and never look back. It is so much better, I promise, promise promise. I put it in writing. I say you can do it. You can. You can. You will be amazed at yourself, and so proud. Do it! But things just aren't that simple sometimes. And maybe you wouldn't believe me, or maybe you wouldn't believe that it was possible for you. I sometimes feel like it would come off like one of those weight loss infomercials where you watch and go "Oh! Look how good he/she looks! I want to do that!..... I could never do that." 

But you can. It will be true for you, just like it has been true for me. Your people will know who to expect. You will too. You will feel that relief, that surrender. It's always the right time to decide. 












22 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. It helps me to remember where I was just 14 short months ago. The look of hurt in my daughter's eyes as I would yell, "go back in the house, I'm smoking out here!" That guilt, that "you suck at life" soundtrack. Projecting my shortcomings on to others, all of it. My last hangover was the worst of my life. What a relief I never have to feel that way again. The soundtrack still plays once in a while but now I can face my issues head on, I no longer have to hide from them in a bottle of Pinot. What a relief, indeed!
    Peace-
    Lynne

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    1. Agh, trying to hide my smoking cigarette behind the laptop while little ones want a drink of water or a snuggle. Probably the best part of being sober is the end of the relentless "you suck at life" soundtrack. Even when I do "SAL" I can still say "but I'm sober" and things feel better. I'm so glad you're sober too. :)

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  2. I saw the article in Good Housekeeping and I looked you up last night. Be assured that many others did as well. Its really good to know you are here.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you're here too.

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  3. Thanks for this. I'm about 160 days sober and tek o much comfort in your nd other over blogs. Remembering hangovers, wincing, getting nervous shaky feeling, feeling out of Control, if always helps me when I'm starting to feel like, "ah today would be a good time to just drink again."

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    1. Oh, hangovers. What a sucky way to spend life. Way to go on your 160+ days. :)

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  4. Such raw honesty here. That is always such a touchingly beautiful thing to me. YOU are beautiful in your honest appraisal of how things were for you, of the personal responsibility you take for your broken actions. You were acting our your brokenness like so many of us have done in so many various ways...and now you are healing and you are sharing your journey with all of us to shine hope out that it can happen. Life can go on after an addiction. Bless your heart... <3

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    1. Thank you. Life can go on, and be so amazingly regular. Being honest and taking responsibility are natural progressions of concious sobriety. I find the more honest I am- even when it's really hard the more I heal. Xoxoxo

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  5. I just wonder how many millions of us are out there. I can totally relate, only I was much worse. I sure wish I would have had this support 40 years ago! Well, better late than never I say! 9 days sober:)

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    1. Right behind you Laurel, 6 days for me. We can do this & support eacother!!

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    2. 9 days means double digits today. Way to go Laurel! Email me if you need extra support. :)

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  6. I'm so thankful for this blog & all of you unconditionally supporting each other. I'm amazed with all of you. To read all the kind words , encouragement , understanding warms my heart & gives me hope. I certainly have not thought good of myself & starting hating myself. Sounds like we all did . This is day 6. I've dreaded my first weekend not drinking...much less celebrating my birthday on Friday. I actually didn't know what to do, how do I enjoy the freakin weekend & my birthday not getting drunk??? When I was walking to my car leaving work in Friday I felt like I lost my best friend..." what will I do without you??" This is the first year I haven't woke up from my birthday without a horrid hangover ...and the first weekend in at least 7 years I'm not drinking my evenings away. It feels strange, like I have all this extra time & don't know what to do with it. Even though I have 2 children to keep me busy, a house to clean, laundry ...ugh hate laundry!! Several books I want to read. But wow... I'm still sober & awake instead if being passed out in bed by now, sitting watching a movie with my boys that I will actually remember watching it in the morning!! Feels strange...but good!!

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    1. Em!!!!!!!! Your first sober birthday! A whole fresh new year to be sober and to actually live it like you mean it. Yay Em!!!!!!!

      6 days yesterday means you have one week today. A whole week is big!

      The not knowing what to do with yourself is hard at first. You just sort of naturally ease into things to do and then suddenly you think "How did I ever spend so much time drinking????"

      Reading about being sober took up a lot of my time at first. That and looking around in amazement when I was doing regular stuff like watching a movie with the kids. :)

      Sober- best birthday gift ever.

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  7. With a few minor changes, my kids are grown, grandchildren now, that was me. I'm not going back there either. What a great reminder Amy. We can all do it.

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    1. We can all do it. I'm glad you are. :)

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  8. Beautiful Post, Amy! I cried!

    I AM going doing this! Saturday night and sober.

    Jenny G.

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    1. Jenny G. Sober woman extraordinaire. Xoxoxo

      p.s. I cried too. :)

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  9. This was tough to read. Must have been a bitch to write. But then I remember it was no picnic for our families either.

    Bravo my friend...this was a fantastic post.

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  10. Thanks Amy! I happened to read your article today and it was an answer to a prayer. I emailed Belle and today will be day 1. I was sober for a year and thought I could be a social drinker. I was wrong. Two years have passed and I am back to drinking on my back porch. Your post todAy was eerie. I never thought that others really went through what I am doing. People think everything is fine but you live each day with a secret and feel so ashamed and bad about yourself Having all of you out there hopefully will keep me strong.
    Thanks for being out there!
    Dee

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    1. Now you're almost to day two. I knew when I quit that I could never moderate. Ever. That when I quit I quit forever. I wish you continued sober days! I hope that we can get rid of the stigma of alcoholism and that we can hold our heads high. I'm holding mine way up. You can too. Feel free to email me.

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  11. I am so relieved when I read about women like me. Stories I can relate to. I have been to 12 step meetings over the years with friends and I know they work for some but they never spoke to me. I wasn't someone who was lying in the gutters, lost my family, and job. I wasn't selling myself for booze or begging in the street. But in a way, on another level I WAS doing all that. I like that I have heard MY story. I love the support you all give and have.

    I would start into a half case of beer and by the fourth would be off to the store in my pj's to make sure I had enough to finish all my shows I wanted to watch. Oh the lure of bending an elbow and drawing that smoke into my lungs. I am starting to miss that part of it now and I never smoked a cigarette until after 7 pm. Al la booze.

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