The last day I ingested alcohol was 42 days ago on May 29. Man. It seems like such a short while ago, but also hard to believe it’s only been 42 days! I haven’t been riding the pink cloud, but I’ve also felt more “normal” this time around in sobriety than I ever have before.
Nothing specific this time around happened to make me stop. I was just tired. Tired of being tired and wanting to rid myself of the mental obsession of drink. I was constantly thinking about drinking and not drinking. They say, you’ll never drink normally once you’ve been to A.A. and it’s true. I couldn’t put a drink to my lips without thinking about the consequences. And I’ve had many.
My drinking really intensified two years ago. I was in a dead-end relationship and to be blunt, I hated myself and everyone around me. I remember going out to celebrate Halloween dressed as Waldo from Where’s Waldo? after working a 6-hour shift. I pounded back the shots like it was my job. I barely recall taking the L-train home. In the morning, my ex and I nursed our hangovers, recalling the night’s events. Did we really do that? Did I really say that? Drinking already made me feel less inhibited, which wasn’t always (scratch that: ever) a good thing.
I continued to drink last summer when I moved back to Boston, hoping that this time would be different. I’d meet random girls in bars (nothing new there), drink until I felt I could ask to kiss them (still, the same), and then wake up regretting the night before and confused as ever. I remember one especially painful night waking up to a text from a random girl I’d met the night before. “Did y’all get home okay?” It read, “you two just disappeared last night.” I remembered absolutely nothing about the night before, other than promising myself that I was going home alone. I didn’t. Of course.
I’ve heard drinking referred to as Groundhog Day before and I have to say that’s truly what it felt like to me. Every time I drank I hoped for different results, but the exact same thing happened. Different bar, different girl, but same exact Haley after a few drinks.
I stopped this time around because I want to think I’m a better person when I’m not ingesting ethanol. It hasn’t been easy, but though it’s only been a few months, I do feel stronger both physically and emotionally. I feel more creative and most importantly, more willing to do just about everything. I’m willing to attend social events and opt for sparkling water. I’m willing to write about my drinking, honestly, and publicly, so that I can help others, but also stay accountable to myself. I’m willing to turn things over when they get too hard to handle, but also know I don’t have to wait until then. If I make any of this seem easy, please know it isn’t. There have been quite a few nights recently where nothing has sounded better than a cold beer or glass of rose. The only thing that keeps me from drinking is knowing that the one thing I like (no scratch that: love) better than alcohol is sobriety.
What happened was this: I drank until I couldn’t anymore and then I stopped. I drank until I was so mentally consumed by the act of drinking, I couldn’t keep going the way I was. I was embarrassed, sad, and angry. I still feel some of those things today, but the difference is I write or talk them out instead of self-medicating.
I’ve been on and off this sober path for close to six years. I’m just tired. It seems easier to give in than to keep fighting what I know to be my truest truth: my life is better without alcohol. That simple. But, that hard.
What happened was that I grew tired of my own Groundhog Day. Tired of recreating the same scenarios, hoping for different results and knowing I would wake up sad and shaking. Repulsed at my behavior, but also unable to stop it. It’s scary to know that I could keep living this way if I choose to. Right now, I have a choice. I guess what I’m trying to say is this, what happened was that I got tired of my own bullshit and I had a choice still. There’s so much power in that. Life isn’t a game and we don’t know how much time we have left. I’d rather live the rest of my life knowing that at least I chose to survive.
Know this: your bottom can come to you, there is such a thing as a “potential alcoholic,” and life only gets better if you choose to make it so.
If you don’t know this, you are loved. You are oh so loved. There’s nothing you can do to make me not love you. I’ve been broken and burned and my heart has only continued to grow. We can heal from much more than we think we can. You don’t have to wait till the end.