Anyone that is friends with me on Facebook undoubtedly saw the outpouring of celebration yesterday by my friends, who congratulated me and showered me with gifts and love in celebration of my 1000 days of sobriety.
For those of you that don’t know my story, or weren’t aware of that portion of my story, I wanted to give a narrative that maybe answers some questions you have. So what does that mean? What did life look like 1005 days ago? Do you go to meetings? Do you get a chip?
The answer is no, because I have never gone to meetings. I do have a group of friends that I lean on when I know that the circumstances in front of me start looking like they used to when I did what I always did – find my way back to self-destruction, through which ever path I could get to faster. Sobriety didn’t begin with rehab and meetings, and pre-sobriety did not look like the picture many people have in their head when they think of sobriety or recovery.
So what did pre-sobriety look like? It looked kind of normal. I wasn’t hiding vodka bottles in the closet. I wasn’t out every weekend partying. In fact, I wasn’t even a frequent drinker, but when I was, I was a heavy drinker. I had zero concept of social drinking; I was 0 or 100, with no in between. And actually, I didn’t drink for periods of time, and abstaining was not a struggle for me. When I did drink, I more than made up for all the nights I did not. I do not get funnier or quieter after alcohol; I got louder, and I got more aggressive and out of control when I drank. And with less inhibitions, I made horrific choices. I don’t love the taste of alcohol, but I craved the escape it brought me.
On June 2, 2013, I got violently drunk in a hotel room on a business trip I went on with Jason, and things became so badly out of control that it’s really only by some sort of miracle (or maybe just him not wanting his colleagues to know) that I didn’t end up in jail. I woke up on June 3 sick and mortified, and devastatingly remorseful at the things I had said and done to my husband. And I decided that morning that I was tired of apologizing for hurting the people I loved. I was tired of being out of control, and that day marks the day that I committed to stop adding fuel to the fire.
Addicts of various kinds that are in stages of recovery (as well as family of recovering addicts) will tell you that there is a big difference between not using and being sober. Prior to that day in June, I had many days that I did not find whatever substance I could get my hands on to escape, but I did not have sobriety.
Sobriety looks different for most people. For me, it looks like suffering through the six kidney infections I had this year without any pain relief, because I had to decline the prescriptions. It looks like not drinking at all, because abstaining completely is better for me than trying to manage it. Once, I was on a trip for work, and I smelled the scotch someone was drinking. And despite the fact that I have never liked scotch, the way my mouth watered scared me, and I realized at that moment that “drinking casually” was likely never going to be an option for me.
I have zero judgments about people who drink. My husband has a beer once in a while. My friends have wine when we go places. They have something I don’t – the ability to self-regulate.
It’s been a long time, much longer than 1,000 days, since I was clearly out of control. My family can attest to the time they had to come and get me from college and bring me home because of my months-long bender. My husband can attest to the time I lost my job because of all the pain meds I was on. Or the business trip that I was so out of it during that my coworkers were actually scared for my health. Or the seizure I had because of a medication interaction. Or the time I invited my parents to dinner and nodded off the whole time in the restaurant. Those days were much longer ago than 1,000 days.
However, as for the amount of time since I made the conscious decision to be a better mom, wife, friend, and family member? That has been 1,000 days. It has been 1,000 days since I decided to stop being my own worst enemy. Most of those days have come easily, but some have not. It meant learning new coping mechanisms for when I am stressed. Or bored. Or happy.
Sobriety is difficult at times, but it is not complicated. It only requires saying no. Sometimes that “no” comes easier than others…but it always comes.
So that is the story of what prompted the decision I made one thousand days ago. If you have questions, feel free to contact me. I am happy to answer them.