My patch of smooth flight conditions continues. I can’t honestly say there’s been any severe turbulence, however. Don’t even think there’s anything resembling moderately bumpy either. What’s important to keep in mind though, is that when I reached what I consider MY rock bottom, it was after over a decade of trying in vain to control something I am powerless over. By this I mean that I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I just woke up one morning, decided to stop drinking and that was that! The road leading up to that moment was long and really, really shitty. If I look back on these now 269 days of sobriety, yes, they have been mostly sunny as far as staying sober goes – I’ve not found it hard not to drink. Yes, a few close shaves, but I can’t for a moment look you in the eye and say it’s been a struggle. It would appear I set up camp on the Pink Cloud pretty quickly, but that was ME and and it only happened after many, many years of extremely heavy drinking.
My rock bottom wasn’t losing my child or husband or family or friends. It wasn’t losing my job or failing to pay rent because I spent all my money on booze. I didn’t drink in the mornings (well – not that many in the grand scheme of things, morning drinking hadn’t become part of my habit) or turned up drunk to work. Nor did I get behind the wheel drunk or neglected by child in a way that meant his basic needs weren’t met. Oh, it was bad enough! It was PLENTY bad! But what I’m saying is, I was lucky enough to reach my turning point before the consequences became truly devastating. Again, it was devastating enough, but it could – and would – have got so much worse. I am very lucky. I suppose an accurate way of putting it would be that I finally really saw where I was headed, that I realised that I was hurtling towards a really shitty, harrowing, indescribably awful rock bottom. I got a glance at it and it didn’t just scare me shitless, it made something inside me click. This, in combination with understanding how my view of what alcohol is and does was an illusion, allowed the pieces to slowly begin to fall into place. I didn’t want to. After wanting to stop (or moderate, rather – I wanted to be able to control it, not STOP stop) for so long, I just knew I didn’t WANT to drink anymore. This is very different to wanting to stop yet still also wanting to drink. If you no longer want to drink, stopping isn’t as hard. Or wasn’t for me.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to stopping and I believe it’s different for everyone. On this blog I can obviously only share what’s true for me. It’s something I’ll no doubt come back to time and time again.
When it comes to my sobriety, and in particular these patches like now when drinking couldn’t be further from my mind, is that I never want to allow myself to forget what came before 23rd January 2018. One of the numerous books I’ve read is ‘Alcohol Explained’ by William Porter. Like many other books I’m devouring I particularly like it because it breaks drinking down by really looking at what happens in the mind as well as the body, and thus offering – as the title suggests – an explanation of how we develop an addiction to alcohol. One of the recent chapters I read talks about how our memory fades, which of course is a universal fact – this happens with regards to everything we experience with time. But as human beings, we are actually wired to retain positive memories more than negative ones. This, presumably, is why we can fall back into drinking even after years of being sober – partly due to having forgotten how bad it really was I assume. This in turn goes to explain why we are more likely to stay sober only after hitting rock bottom (or, what rock bottom is for US rather – it doesn’t look the same for everyone, does it?) because the worse the memories, the harder it’ll be for our brains to fully bury them. Something along those lines. I don’t have it in front of me so can’t quote, besides, it was a long section anyway.
In the past, when I’ve fought with the Beast, I never managed to convince myself it was bad enough to stop drinking. I just needed to cut down or learn to moderate. Well, you know that old chestnut, eh? Right NOW in this moment of my life, I can’t think of a single thing that’d make me want to drink – honest to God. But what if, a bit further down the line, the horrors of the depths of alcoholism I sank to fade to the point where I can’t clearly recall how bad it was and felt? Or how you sometimes hear people tell you how they kind of felt “hey, I’ve been sober X years now, just this once won’t hurt” and then it went fucking Armageddon again. That scares me. It scares me and saddens me and makes me feel so full of sorrow and angst to not be able to say I know for a fact that I’ll always stay sober. I can’t guarantee it. I threw my life away before. Right now I’m happy and grateful and love my life, almost like I’ve been locked up for years and years and enjoying being free. That’s actually a pretty good analogy because I feel like that’s happened. I feel free. But what happens when this has just all become normal? When enjoying my morning coffee is just knocking back a bog standard cup of fucking coffee and no longer a moment I savor and feel joyous over after years of being unable to?
Well. I’ll just have to stay honest, humble and never forget that I will always have to work at this. I can’t take it for granted. No, it’s not a struggle, at least not right now. But as another blogger put it (and I can’t remember who, unfortunately): I’ve forced my addiction into a cage but I have to remember the cage isn’t locked.
Time for the weekend now and I can’t wait. Monday and Tuesday off next week and I’m looking forward to just four days with hubby and Bambino and just doing our thing. Life is sweet and I’m very, very happy. On the 23rd it’ll be nine months, another milestone to celebrate the best thing I ever did for myself and for those who love and need me.
Today I’m not going to drink.