To get sober, all you have to do is not drink. Why did it take me so long to figure this out? I’m slowly figuring out why because if nothing else, sobriety gives you lots of mental clarity to reflect on why you drink/drank, and why you aren’t anymore. I think a huge part of my identity was tied to drinking. I knew it was wrong and I knew I wasn’t drinking the way I considered appropriate, but I didn’t know how to not drink. I wasn’t doing anything to learn another way, and sobriety seemed so boring and awful. I was drinking about drinking, but I was doing very little to learn how to live without alcohol. Nowadays, I shudder to think of a hangover again. I rarely crave the awful taste in my mouth after a night of heavy drinking. Not that I particularly enjoyed it, but I knew it. It was a comfortable, normal thing. It gave me something to focus on.
I’m traveling for work next week, and tonight I had a brief pang of panic over what that means. It means ME in a hotel, completely ALONE. I could drink a bottle or two of wine and nobody would ever know! I got this weird sensation, almost a pull to just do it. . .a secret rendezvous with myself that I could laugh about and give my inner self a little wink and a nudge about later. Alcohol is sneaky, and I think it won’t ever be completely quiet in my head. It snuck up on me today, and for a moment I indulged myself in a little fantasy. Big gulps of wine like I’ve never taken before! Spend $50 on a fancy bottle and live it up!! My imagination went wild, I drank the wine, went to an amazing club and met amazing people and laughed long into the night over cigarettes and conversations with my imaginary new best friends. (I was also very skinny and was wearing something silver and flimsy. . . it was a true stretch of imagination!). Then, my imaginary self went to work the next day. Fuzzy minded, with tired eyes and pounding headache. Embarrassed and feeling very obvious. Puffy, dull skin, and an impatient edge. Willing the conversations and meetings to just be over already. I instantly went from Studio 54 back to the mental dreads, and I felt a wave of shame wash over me.
Never again. I’m stronger and brighter now. I know alcohol lies and any fantasy is just that. Alcohol does absolutely no good for me in any aspect of my life. It is a saboteur and it’s really effing good at it’s job. Sobriety isn’t boring or scary or awful. It’s medium. It’s a balance between the 3AM self-hatred, and the 6PM seduction. It’s safe and patient and readily available. I don’t have to plan it, or pay for it, or even long for it. I am not going to regret my sobriety tomorrow, nor am I accidentally going to drink every bag of tea in the entire house and ruin my night of sleep.. . .or something?? Idk, that got away from me.
My whole life is subtly and naturally changing. My marriage is getting better, I’m getting better at my job, I’m owning my opinions, I’m arguing more – for things I believe matter in the world. My days of self-loathing are so much shorter and less intense. I don’t carry the weight of constant shame around all the time. I still say things that are insensitive or thoughtless. I still get caught making faces at my husband and kids (ha!). But those deep cuts of self hatred don’t cut as deep anymore. My wins in life aren’t celebrated with alcohol that cuts them down and makes them ugly. I probably pat myself on the back too much, but for fuck’s sake, it’s nice to enjoy the wins instead of having every positive thing I do be immediately put on a balance to hopefully outweigh the bad stuff!!
So next week, I’m going to be away, but I’m going to stay sober. No galavanting around town, dancing in silver heels (my imagination thinks it’s 1970, apparently). I’m probably going to work out, maybe visit an area haunted house that I’ve read about for years. Maybe soak in the tub, or read a book. I don’t care what I do, really, I just am happy to be there and not escaping down a bottle.