When I was 19, I fell in love with a man named Brian. I was utterly, hopelessly, disgustingly in LOVE in a way only a 19 year-old can be in love. He was remarkably flawed. He was a 26 year-old, follically challenged restaurant manager who lived with his mom and yet, I utterly worshipped him. When he broke up with me on our one year anniversary because he was having sex with another woman, I was beyond devastated. I became a ghost of myself. I lost weight. I became terribly ill. It was all very Victorian. I pined and raged. I sobbed and mourned his loss with every fiber of my soul. But, I also started taking better care of myself. I learned that I was ok on my own. I grew stronger. I began to figure out who I really was and began to find comfort in my own skin for the first time on my life. About 2 months after “the breakup,” he started calling me again. At first I was overjoyed, but at the memory of the pain and suffering I had endured, I became cautious even reticent. About a month later, I met my husband. He saw and fell in love with me, the real me not a version of me I created to please him. He supported and respected me- something completely new. I was able to kick Brian out of my life and fall into a much healthier, stronger love.
I was thinking about my relationship with alcohol and reflecting what I have learned in the last six months. My irrational devotion to alcohol was much like my devotion to Brian and my “break-up” with alcohol paralleled both the pain and struggle I endured and the amazing peace and clarity I gained through that experience. Giving up alcohol was (and still is) messy, endlessly difficult, excruciatingly painful but also rewarding on a level I don’t think I can easily explain. I have discovered myself again. Sobriety has not been a magic bullet. My life is far from perfect. But sobriety has enabled me to find peace and gratitude for my life and for my self, just as it is and just as I am. In sobriety, I find it easier to embrace the now rather than endlessly fret over the future or pine for the past. This is a radical shift.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Recovery requires constant vigilance. I need to remind myself of this often. Recovery is (and should be) hard work. For me, recovery has become huge part of my daily routine and thought process. There is not one day that has gone by where I have not thought about and worked on my recovery. I have had to rework aspects of my life to fit into my new alcohol free paradigm. I have not set foot in a liquor store for six months. I avoid bars like the plague. I declined party invitations this year and I asked my family to make my home alcohol free over the holidays. It hasn’t been an easy switch but what in life that is truly worth anything comes easily?
I am lucky. I have a lot of support. I have AMAZING friends. My husband is also sober and is my rock. He relapsed in October and it shook my sobriety to its core. I realized that although we are on this journey together, our recovery is not intertwined or interdependant. Also, while I have determined that AA is not a great fit for me at this time, I find daily meaningful interaction with other alcoholics to be the cornerstone of my recovery program.
I am not saying I have it all locked up. Everyone has their own path. I am not, nor will I ever be, “cured.” I am, however, a much better version of myself sober. I choose this life over alcohol any day.