If you’ve ever been a person who can’t imagine life without alcohol, you’re my kind of people. Whether you’re an alcoholic or not, there are many of us whose social world revolves on the glass-in-hand kind of gatherings. For those of us who DO have an unhealthy dependency upon alcohol, this often stops us from recovery as we dread the life without booze.
These days I’m six and a half years from the night I took my last drinks (which I can’t remember due to a booze-induced blackout) and I’ve learned so much about myself and life which was unknown to me in my life before recovery.
Recovery is a BIG word…notice I don’t just say sobriety…I wrote recovery on purpose. One can be living sober, never taking a drink and yet still repeat unhealthy behaviours. This is sometimes referred to as a “dry drunk” because the person hasn’t dealt with the myriad of crap in their experience that is holding them back from recovery and living life fully, unhindered by demons and secrets.
When I was on the cusp of recovery for the last year of my drinking, if I took any time alone I quickly felt lost. Alone. Afraid.
I knew that I HAD to stop drinking like I was…but no matter what good intention I had as I popped the cork on a bottle of wine at 5pm (never any sooner) I just couldn’t manage to slow my drinking to the point of a gentle buzz. I’d soar right through that lovely feeling and quickly arrive at drunk before polishing off ALL of the booze in my vicinity, leaving myself with regrets for my behaviours and shame which dripped into my soul like dark oil…coating me, weighing me down and filling me with a self-hatred I fought to avoid.
This shame brought me to the edge of a precipice in life that I hope never to face again. One where I knew I was going to die if I didn’t face my alcoholism and get help. The darkness had settled so deeply into my life perspective that I almost chose to continue down the path of death rather than facing the unknown…how to do life without booze.
That morning when I made the decision, I don’t believe I did it alone. God’s hand was at work and I’m forever grateful that it was. I finally threw aside the fear of facing life without a glass in hand and slowly…VERY slowly learned to breath in my own skin again.
There was no visible magic, at times in the early days I was itching to get out of the skin I hold so dear now. I was twitchy, irritable and lusting to have my old life back. I couldn’t even allow myself to think about a drink; I taped all TV shows so I could fast-forward through the alcohol-ladened commercials, I avoided social media other than recovery blogs and social situations lasted an hour at most until I escaped.
I filled my time with scheduled, positive events such as my 12 Step Recovery group, books, being of service to others, doing housework and bonding with my husband and kids. Within my cocoon I was learning how to live in today and find gratitude in mundane life. This was completely alien to me, someone who had historically always been on the lookout for the next new thing to do.
As the days passed, without realizing I began to enjoy more and more of each day. Every so slowly, I was spiritually moving forward, growing and learning to live willingly rather than being in the egotistical, insecure, selfish mindset of my past.
Today I’m here, still learning and growing. Each day God guides me along my not-so-perfect life in recovery. My recovery isn’t a situation to be lived through…it’s a gift I’m eternally grateful for.
Life after booze isn’t a death sentence. By taking that path I’ve learned how to breathe in life again and the air is pretty damned sweet here.