On May 22nd I turned three-years-sober. I certainly don’t talk about it or write about it the way I did in the early days but it bears mentioning that I am still very much sober. And even as I write that I realize how sober the word sober sounds. I know what a lot of people think when they hear that word sober: they immediately picture a person who is no longer fun to be around, a person who spends an inordinate amount of time in church basements with other equally sober people talking about how grateful they are and what a miracle they are and their “journey” and “serenity” and just how much better they are now than people who drink. And obviously we sober people probably assume everyone else drinks too much right? I know some people think that sober people troll mommy blogs silently wagging their fingers at the moms who like to close out their day with a glass or two of wine — that we feel sorry for all those tuned out moms who “self-medicate” and clearly don’t mother their children as well as us.
Well, let me assure you, I don’t feel that way. Some people might. I certainly can’t speak for a whole sober community which would naturally contain people who don’t drink for all different reasons and not just the ones who don’t drink because they used to drink waaay too much. This wasn’t about changing you, this was about changing me.
Of course my life has changed dramatically. The first year pretty much sucked a lot of the time. I stopped drinking when my twins were 16 months old which is some seriously bad timing. Really, what was I thinking? Two insane, crying, barely ambulatory girls and one pre-schooler in need of lots of extra attention and no way to tune out, numb, have a mental vacation, or really have just a good night of alcohol induced sleep.
But we don’t choose our bottom; it chooses us.
It seems to me that the people who are successful in quitting drinking almost feel like they don’t have a choice to quit in the same way they didn’t feel they had a choice to drink. Drinking had crossed the line, my behavior around alcohol had crossed the line, and I could see that if I drank one more time I would be risking everything I claimed to love.
The problem is anxiety is a bitch who rules with an iron fist. Every time I swore that I wouldn’t drink anymore or even when I tried to take a night off, anxiety gripped up on me and literally convinced me that I could drink one more time. That this time, I would only have one glass of wine, just enough to take the edge off, just enough to get through the bed time routine as the patient loving mom I knew I could be if I could just relax a little fucking bit!
So I’d have that one little glass of wine and it wouldn’t be little exactly because I liked to drink it “gaucho” style out of a rocks glass. And then normal people have two right? My parents always had two glasses of wine and they are not and have never been problem drinkers. Civilized people have two glasses of wine dammit! So I’d have two (which was really like three since I wasn’t pouring light). Then depending on my mood or what I was doing, I’d either stop there but desperately want another glass, or I’d just go ahead and have another glass.
The reason I quit drinking was that I no longer had a choice. I just couldn’t find the motivation to go a night without wine. I wasn’t physically addicted, I didn’t go to rehab, I did get help however. I didn’t do it alone. I suggest that approach.
Probably the biggest change for me is that I feel calm, happy, and fairly anxiety free most of the time. I’m not a robot, people, so I do occasionally have a bad day. Getting over the anxiety took about five months. And as an alcoholic, I wasn’t convinced at all that I’d ever feel good again naturally. I’m a cynic and couldn’t get with the recovery jargon and all the grateful and serene assholes I encountered on a daily basis. I felt that however I was feeling right then was how I was always going to feel regardless of my actions. But again, once I quit drinking because I didn’t feel I had a choice so I stuck it out. And holy shit if it didn’t get a whole lot better. I had no idea that the way I’ve pretty much felt since I first started drinking at fourteen is not normal but that the way I feel now is.
Sometimes being sober is still sobering.
A few weeks ago, I found out that a mom at my kid’s school was having a get-together with some other moms and she didn’t invite me. I thought it was kind of weird because our kids are friends, we’ve socialized before (many times) and she’d pretty much opened it up to moms she didn’t even know. But my feelings weren’t hurt in the least. I’m a big girl, I don’t need to be invited to every party. I’m not like Ramona on RHNY. But then I found out the reason I wasn’t invited. I got a message from the mom telling me that she didn’t invite me because she “didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable since it was a margarita party and one of the moms in particular was probably going to get drunk like she always does.”
It was my worst fear realized. I am different. I am sober. I’m the one people think wouldn’t be fun at a party or worse might judge you for getting drunk on margaritas. “How dare she?” I thought. “I’m still fun! I’m more fun! I’m so fucking fun that you’re making a big mistake not inviting me!” But then time went by and I gained a bit of perspective. And the truth of the matter is: I don’t want to go to a party where the focus is drinking anyway. I have found other ways to let off steam now. I’m really into macramé. Ha ha, I’m fucking with you. But I do watch every Real Housewives franchise with the exception of Atlanta because those bitches are boring and you’d be surprised how effective reality TV is for tuning out at the end of the day.
So yes, I’ve been sober three years. And it is a miracle. And I’m pretty darned grateful. So sue me.
There’s so much more I could say about this but I’ll save it for year four.
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Check out my personal blog Baby On Bored where there are extra drinking stories under “Don’t Get Drunk Friday”