I turn 17 years tomorrow. May 11, 2004 is my sober date. Each year I write about this and how the past year has been, and how my life has become so much better because I don’t drink anymore. It’s all about staying sober now and having that emotional sobriety.
My last drink was May 10, 2004 and I remember it vividly, and that’s how I want it. I don’t ever want to forget that feeling of “I need to have this drink”! The desperation I felt that night, swigging the last of the red wine and sediment from the magnum bottle, the thirst of it is still palpable. I had a sponsor say to me years ago, one of the best assets you’ll every have in your sobriety is remembering your last drink. It keeps it real and green for me, and it keeps me from never wanting to repeat that feeling again.
When I started drinking at age 13, I felt like I had finally arrived. I finally understood what all the fuss was about. I finally felt like I fit in and that people would like and accept me. This is a feeling that I crave sometimes even today. As an alcoholic I still struggle with that feeling of being “less than” not enough for myself or anyone else. The disease of alcoholism for me was MORE! MORE of anything that I could get! More booze, more blow, more love, more money, more prestige, more compliments, more clothes, more, more, more! Lest did I know that the path of my alcoholism and drug addiction would take me down a road that was scary, bleak, and painful for over 20 years. I didn’t know getting that that second DUI would be that saving grace to release me from my own self.
In the first five years of my sobriety, I lived in a beautiful recovery bubble in Encinitas, California with amazing ladies that I got sober with, where I learned how to love and take care of myself; mentally, physically, and emotionally. In my 6th year of sobriety, I moved back east to be with family and to take care of my ailing mother. My life got bigger and fuller and a little bit messier. Shit got real. Mom’s disease got worse and a couple of years later she passed. During this time, I also met him. My person. We met at a meeting and skipped along as an AA couple living in that bliss of early recovery. We would go to meetings together, host sober gatherings with other AA couples and be content with how our lives were going. We soon got married and then moved on with our life moving from state to state and joining other fellowships along the way, before moving back to California, my homestead. We made new friends in these fellowships, all the while my spouse was struggling with staying clean and sober, and it took a toll on each of us.
After ten years together we divorced and have since become friends who like to spend time with our dog together. Like what? Really? Yes. If you’ve been following me and reading my blog through the years you know that I’ve struggled hard and held on for so long – probably too long – to this man and my marriage. Through all the anger, fights, name calling, finger pointing, and crying – all I have for this person is love and forgiveness today, for he too is human and fallible. This is a result of doing the work. The emotional sobriety piece that I was talking about. It’s that spiritual growth that others talk about. And if I am being completely honest here, these past two years have been fucking hell. They’ve been the darkest and most painful two years I’ve ever gone through. The constant crying, the sleepless nights, the journaling, the isolating, the eating, the not-eating, all of it – totally sucked ass!
One of the biggest, if not best remedies for me during this time was my rescue pup – Bailey. She saw me through all of it and kept wagging and licking and asking me to take her out every day. Some days it was all I could do to just show up for her.
I like to think of the Winston Churchill quote, “If you are going through hell, keep going!” That became my mantra, along with the Glennon Doyle one, “We can do hard things.” And time – doesn’t time heal us? It has. But so has the work. The writing, the praying, the talking, the crying, the release of it all and during all this time I just kept asking God to give me compassion and forgiveness for someone else. It came and it came because my heart softened, and I realized he was doing the best he could. We both were. But today our lives are different because we are different. I don’t cry myself to sleep every night anymore, and I don’t curse everything about him and wish him pain – I just accept and meet myself where I am. I’ve healed and I didn’t need to drink or use drugs to get through it. That is 17 years of being sober. It is also a result of the people in my life that showed up for me. Those friends. You know who you are. The ones that kept calling and saying, “Hi, how are you doing?” You knew I didn’t want to pick up that phone, but I did anyhow because I needed to. So this is for you – Thank you and I’ll just keep doing this thing one day at a time. 18 is next.