What stands out the most to me about my journey is how much I normalized my drinking. With each phase, each decade, each monumental occasion, I never allowed the consequences to dominate my better judgement. Rather, I brushed them off as “isn’t this what you’re supposed to do?”
I began my love affair with alcohol at 15, I was a blackout drinker from the start. “Isn’t this what you are supposed to do in high school?”
When I was off to college and my drinking became a nearly daily event.
“Isn’t this what college kids are supposed to do?”
When I was in my 20’s with 2 failed marriages.
"Isn’t this what you are supposed to do when drinking is finally legal?”
When I was a divorced, single mom in my 30’s.
“Isn’t this how you are supposed to deal with the life you’ve been dealt?”
I surrounded myself with people who drank like me or dismissed my behavior as “normal.” My drinking was far from normal. Yet I spent 25 years normalizing it. If anyone had the courage to confront me about my drinking, they soon became excommunicated out of my life.
Finally, just before my 40th birthday, the bottom fell out.
For no known rational reasons, I decided to start drinking at 8am one Friday morning. And I didn’t quit for 3 days. When I was found, I was unresponsive. I was rushed to the hospital and it was determined I had a .42 BAC – the doctors said I should be dead on arrival. That started the wakeup call I couldn’t ignore.
I spent the better part of my life ignoring so many. Now it became a matter of life-or-death and I had to make a choice. Can you believe I didn’t know what to do? I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to quit.
“A life without alcohol? What would I do for fun? I’ll have no friends. I’ll get made fun of. Everyone drinks!”
These questions plus 1000 more controlled my thoughts as I sat under observation in detox for 5 days. I had no ability to understand the ramifications my drinking had on others. Honestly, at that moment I didn’t care. I was still contemplating how I was going to explain to people that I didn’t drink. Then someone said to me, “Wait, you don’t care that people see you out drunk? You don’t care about how you look to them? You don’t mind looking hung over several days a week at work? But you care what people are going to think about you getting your life together?”
It was not an easy decision, yet it has now become the best decision of my life – to take both feet and step into the next decade of my life sober. Choosing life was scary. I was stripped of everything I ever knew about myself. Yet, what did I really know anyway – I was pretty much drunk the better part of my adult life.
Coming face-to-face with myself has been beautiful and humbling. You know what?
Recovery – the conscious journey into sobriety – is so much more than just “not drinking."
Recovery for me has been connecting to myself, family, friends and the world around me in simple ways.
Recovery is teaching me not to over complicate things.
Recovery has taught me to go to a meeting, get to yoga, call a friend – not grab a drink.
I’m learning how to be okay with what is.
I’m finally comfortable in my own skin.
Recovery has given me everything alcohol promised.
Alcohol lied. Recovery has fulfilled its promises.
Today I am no longer bound by my fears. My pain. My thoughts. My guilt. My shame.
Today I chose life every day.
Today I am free.
Life isn’t perfect.
What’s changed is I stopped believing there is a perfect life. A perfect body. A perfect relationship. A perfect day.
Trying to chase perfection is exhausting.
Accepting what is, allows me to see the beautiful in the broken. My brokenness.
When I can accept my brokenness, I can accept your brokenness because in the end, we are all broken.
And in the brokenness, we find community. We find beautiful.