I stopped drinking for the second time in 2 years. Most people in my life are well aware that I am sober but have no idea why, which is okay. A lot of people hear “sober” and assume that I crashed multiple cars and went to jail which is not my story. People that love addicts or are addicts or were addicts ask better questions.
“How do you feel now?”
“If you ever need support, do you have a community?”
People who are hurt by the fact that I do not drink anymore are usually insecure in their own journey with alcohol or are maybe questioning their drinking, which is okay too.
The first time I stopped drinking was awful. I was angry and confused and tortured by my own brain. For anyone that has never questioned your relationship with substances, this is what it sounds like… at least for me;
Wtf is an alcoholic?
How do you get diagnosed?
I don’t have a problem, I’ve never been a sloppy drunk.
But I get so mad when people don’t want to drink with me or can’t keep up.
I have to have a problem or I wouldn’t be crying over not having alcohol at a party.
I can drink and only have two so I have it under control
Why is everyone else okay with being the DD and the thought of that pisses me off?
I’ve never hit a visible “rock bottom”
My doctor hasn’t told me to stop
I use alcohol and partying as a way to make me forget about what’s in my head
Is that alcoholism?
Is alcoholism a thing?
What if I heal my mental illness, then will I be able to drink?
It’s a mind game. Over and over. All day, every day for 10 months, I questioned myself. I went back and forth and cried and fought and asked other addicts. But I didn’t drink. There was something in me that knew what I wanted before I was ready to admit it.
When I started drinking again after 10 months I was devastated. Why wasn’t alcohol fixing my problems? Why wasn’t it answering the question, “am I an alcoholic or not?” There was a film over my focus, my senses, my awareness. I fell back into my mental illness and was trying to find every excuse as to why I felt bad except for alcohol.
It’s important to know that I was not drinking every day. You do not have to drink every day to have a substance use disorder. You do not have to drink every week. You do not have to look or act like whatever stereotypical image of an alcoholic looks like to have a valid problem and to get help and support.
This awful stigma that clings to addiction, alcoholism, substance abuse, and drug users is the very thing that drives so many people away from healing their mental illness or trauma that caused their using in the first place.
On September 12th, I stopped drinking again. For the first two months it was torture. I was doing the thing where I go back and forth on my decision, I question my values, I don’t trust myself. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore and admitted that I had to stop doing this alone, I reached out to a relative who is also sober. To this day, I wish that I had recorded our conversation, it changed my whole world. My aunt told me that it didn’t matter what everyone in my life thought about my drinking. My family, my friends, my boyfriend, his friends, my coworkers, it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was what I thought. And it was then that I admitted for the first time out loud that I knew I had to stop. I knew I had a problem, and it didn’t fucking matter if I had crashed a car or been to jail or controlled how much I drank. I did not need to explain my life to anyone. I will not ever be able to repay my Aunt for the clarity she gave me that day.
After that conversation, I made the decision that I had been playing with for over a year. Alcohol was not a part of my life anymore. It is truly incredible how much struggle came with the constant back and forth before I made that decision. Once it was made, it was made.
I promised myself I would try everything. AA, NA, talking to other women, working on my company, working out more, eating better, being vulnerable, and I did try all of those things.
I quickly realized that AA/ NA gave me a sense of community that I so desperately needed, but I found myself questioning the program over and over again and how it strayed from a lot of my personal beliefs. This is something that was almost more confusing than sobriety itself, but I have finally come to a place in my life where I am supported in other ways and have let myself walk on a different path of recovery.
After so many conversations and books and podcasts and self-discovery I have come to the conclusion that I am not at fault. In a society that pushes alcohol down the throats of every child, teenager and adult, it is no surprise that some of us use it as medicine. Isn’t that what they want? It is a “rite of passage” to be able to take shots and chug beers when you turn 21 but for those of us that get addicted or go too far, we are the problem, the diseased. It does not make sense to blame the drinker when the drink is made to get you addicted. It is only doing its job.
I know this topic is controversial but if there is anything you can take from my thoughts let it be this… People who are brave enough to admit that they need help getting away from a substance that you are also consuming are not weak or different than you. They may be mentally ill, affected by trauma, struggling through life or just questioning what they want. They are not on a lower level than you or out of control. They are acknowledging that they have a problem and taking the steps to heal.
Alcohol is no longer in my life, not because I am powerless over it but because I am powerful enough to not need it anymore. I do not have room for it. It’s still hard sometimes. It takes a lot of energy to deal with things without drinking. But it feels really fucking good that I can do it. I always wanted to “feel better” and didn’t realize that the thing that was keeping me from that did not have to be in my life anymore. Now that it’s not, feeling better feels even better than I thought it would.
For anyone who is questioning their drinking/using or just needs some type of connection, I am always here and I am still working on this too.
This whole post was inspired by Holly Whitaker’s, “Quit Like A Woman”. A book that I recently read (twice) and that has finally given me a sense of validation and power. For anyone in a similar place, this book truly helped me feel connected and understood.