On April 24th of this year, I took my last drink. I didn’t know it at the time, but something had shifted in me while I finished the last of a 6 pack at home. I was surprise picked up from a local bar after imbibing heavily. I was shitfaced. I pretended I wasn’t but NB knew. I suppose it happened during my drunken crusade against everything I love that night, although I don’t remember a damn thing. The following morning it was there waiting for me even though I didn’t expect it to be. The echo of a click that I was unfamiliar with. This feeling took me a long time to name. I still don’t have one word for it. It was kind of a throbbing ache and kind of a sharp stabbing. It was kind of a relief and kind of my worst fucking nightmare.
It was different because I didn’t have a hangover that day, yet I still didn’t remember the majority of my night. The dread I felt is indescribable. The discomfort I felt was palpable. The knowledge that I was not living up to the person I knew I could be was lying in front of me, writhing around. It was the truth that had been waiting for me for years. With every sip, every shot and every morning after, it remained the same. I had kept my eyes so tightly shut in fear of how hard it would be to execute what I knew in my head and heart I absolutely had to do. I had to stop drinking. Forever. The truth is that every hour I spent drinking I spiralled further into oblivion. I was leaning in to my pain but not in the way I needed to be, not in a healthy or productive way. I was leaning in to wanting to die. I have always struggled with depression and more recently have been working on it in an honest way, but when I was drinking all my attempts at self-love/self-improvement were a fucking joke. I wanted to die because I thought it would be easier than what I was going through. I was leaning in to self-pity and self-sabotage because I wasn’t getting ‘my way’. I wanted it to stop, or for someone to save me, or for something to distract me long enough that I could find a new life and start all over again. The good news is all those things did happen, just not in the way I expected them to.
It did stop. The relentless cycle of being hurt, drinking to forget/numb out, waking up apologetic/filled with shame and then starting back at the beginning (whether it was the morning after or the weekend after). It stopped when I realized I was in a hamster wheel with all my regret and missed opportunity and until I ceased running I would never get free. It stopped when I admitted (out loud) that I hated myself and I hated being drunk and that I had to fucking change. It stopped when I accepted that alcohol was prohibiting me from moving forward. Alcohol was prohibiting me from growing up. It stopped when I admitted I was done blaming my problems on life/work/boys/girls/Mother Dearest/whatever else. It stopped when I admitted I was living a big fat lie.
I was saved. Not by any version of a god or Jesus. Not even by a cute boy who kinda looks like Jesus. Not by rehab or medication or AA. I don’t do the god thing, I don’t have faith in a HP and I don’t feel like less-than without one, but my recovery has certainly looked different because of it. I was in love with a man when I got sober and he played a huge part in this path but he didn’t do this for me, either. I wanted to go to rehab because I thought it would make my problem seem more real (whatever the fuck that means) and I didn’t go because of money and the idea of taking a month off work. I’m kinda glad I didn’t in the end. I’m proud that I was able to do this the way I have. I found a lovely therapist in recovery, but she didn’t save me either (she certainly helps, though). I am on no medication and I don’t swear by a program or a system. I wasn’t saved by anything specific, rather by everything all at once. I saved myself somehow. I dug deep and stopped being a fucking brat; that’s what it came down to for me. I had to stop acting like the world owed me an easy way out. I had to stop acting like I was the only person who was in pain. This is just what my journey looked like, although I know everyone’s is different.
I did find a new life. It is incredibly full but with holes of who I used to be punched through it. These holes are in the shapes of lost loves; cigarettes, alcohol, NB, my depression. It is exhausting and scary. It is also ridiculous and hilarious. I am so filled with gratitude that I’m 100% certain most of my friends now want to puke whenever I start talking about it, but I don’t give a shit! I am thankful and humbled and terrified and all the good/bad things. It can be non-stop which is when it gets taxing. It has two no-longer-tiny kittens in it that make me want to scream from cuteness and frustration. It has a best friend/Roomie that I actually get to be there for and with whom I share a one-in-a-million connection. It has a 1 month old niece that I can get to know and love and who will be in my life forever. This life has meaning even though it fucking hurts sometimes. This life has purpose even though I don’t always know what it is. This life is honest even when my once-addicted brain tries to lie to me.
I had to start all over again. I had no choice. Roomie calls this the ‘overhaul’. I had to reset my brain; all my coping mechanisms, all my misdirected love, all my not-good-enough thoughts. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. I think for the first few months I was so awed by my rawness that I just went along with whatever my brain was doing. I cried a lot, I ate a lot, I slept a lot. Now that it’s less fresh, my brain has begun to fight back; which can be alarming at times. My depression has resurged in a floating/looming way but hasn’t touched down fully yet. I’m anticipating this and it petrifies me. I have started eating regularly and running every other day and with that my self-esteem has plummeted from the weight gain; even though I’m told I look fantastic I still feel fat and unattractive. I guess it comes with the territory, all this change can be uncomfortable. I work on these new insecurities daily.
I’ve just begun to recognize the woman I am, as me. I’m starting to know what I like and what I don’t like. I’m learning what is too much for me and what is not enough. I laugh so much now that I can’t control it; this was a foreign thing to me 6 months ago. I feel like I have so much more to learn about myself and the world around me AND the acceptance of that undertaking genuinely excites me. I do get sad often; about my lost life, about Mother Dearest, about NB, about the time I spent pushing this life away from me, but I can’t explain how incredible it feels to also know that I am so fucking lucky to be where I am today.
Ultimately all I can do is take this life as it happens. Sounds overly simplistic doesn’t it? It isn’t. It’s fucking hard. It’s hard to surrender to it all, every day. Let things humble me, every day. Let people in with the knowledge they will
probably hurt me, every day. Let the bad and the good wash over me and then trickle away, every day. It’s hard but it’s worth it and that’s why I do it. That’s why we all do it. Everybody following this path knows that we’re ‘on to something’. We may be green and raw, we may be scared and lost, but we are warriors and we are unfuckwithable.