Not all mornings will be cloud free even though the sun was shining from a clear blue sky today when I got up. I’ve felt so strong, so at peace with this journey and it’s not even hurt that much to repeat those words – ‘I’m an alcoholic’ – since I got to that awful point where I truly felt I was done with the drinking. If anything, I’ve embraced it, so relieved am I not to have to drink anymore. I’ve sat in meetings and listened to people talk about wanting to numb feelings and I’ve been unable to relate because I couldn’t identify with that part. It was always an enhancer, right? That’s what I thought. Turns out that the lust for alcohol also very much comes alive when I feel vulnerable and and insecure. And I know in this moment that this thing, this beast I’m up against, is so much stronger than I am. The moment I lose my humility in the face of its strength and hold over me is the moment I lose a battle I’m fighting with pretty damn awful odds as it is. Bit like a three-legged donkey in a race of thoroughbreds – it was never going to be anything but a disaster and I’ll probably get mangled but I have to keep faith and hold on to that thin thread by which my sobriety hangs and somehow hobble along.
It’s a bit of a revelation, actually. The funny thing is that I may have felt this lots of times but was too busy drinking and batting it away that it’s only now I’m sober that I can truly feel it. I’m terrified. No non-alcoholic will ever be able to grasp what it truly means to be a drunk, and that means that I’m ultimately alone in this. Well, I’m not alone in the rooms but once I walk out, no matter how much strength a meeting has given me, no one in the actual world I inhabit outside of the rooms will ever know what this means or how it feels. My son must wonder where on earth I sneak off to, and my husband, well, I suppose as much as he wants to support me all he can do is sit there and twiddle his thumbs when I go get my “kicks” in this new found community I’m now part of. I’m suddenly so aware that here I can never win any more than that three-legged donkey. I’m forever on eggshells and ironically I feel much more of a need to explain and justify my sobriety than I ever did my drinking. Never once did I feel I needed anyone’s permission or approval to guzzle wine like a sailor on leave, yet here I am clinging on to my sobriety for dear life and feel I need to apologise to everyone around me.
Take a minute, here: I feel like I need to apologise for any real or imagined negative impact it may have on other people’s lives that I no longer wish to drink myself to death. This morning, the day before my 42nd birthday I found myself yielding to my alkie brain which was suggesting I pack this sobriety thing right in and go back to winging it in some liver cirrhosis Russian roulette. Hey, let’s go for a few drinks – what’s the harm? I seriously, for a little while there, considered just taking the easy route. Not because I want to give up on sobriety but because I don’t want anyone around me to be inconvenienced by it. If that’s not fucking insane I don’t know what is. Here I am, knowing that if I continue on that wretched path I was on, I’ll hit rock bottom in a spectacular manner and let my life go to waste. Yet I’m so fucking preoccupied with what other people may think of it – what if it’s more fun for them if I stay drunk! – that I’m allowing thoughts of my own destruction for everyone else’s pleasure to take priority over saving my own life at what might turn out to be my last chance to do so. They may have to bury me much too soon, but at least I wasn’t boring. FUCK THAT. That donkey isn’t just three-legged, it’s brain damaged too.
So it’s not with quite as much joy, hope, faith and gratitude that I am about to pass the three week line of sobriety, it’s with an added dose of doubt, fear and despair. What I won’t do though, no matter how much me being sober and the things I need to do to keep it that way dampens anyone else’s day, is pick up a drink.
Not today. Today I will not drink.