I can’t believe I’ve been sober 300 days. This is, no doubt, the longest I’ve gone without alcohol since the first time I ever drank. No joke. I’ve had three long-ish dry spells before this: around 2001 when I was in a shitty situation, when I was married to my first husband and including my pregnancy 2002-2006, and in 2010 when I went for a good four or five months. None of those were “attempts” to get sober, but rather times when alcohol disappeared due to me either going through a rough time and therefore didn’t feel like drinking or being really into running and therefore not adding the one thing that makes it impossible to keep up any fitness regime. None of these were completely booze free, but rather periods of time when I drank very rarely. When it comes to trying to do something about what I for a long time knew was a massive problem, I tried what feels like a million times to control booze. Abstinence would usually last a day or two and any moderation attempts worked until I ordered another one – in other words, never. So this is a victory because in all my attempts to get my drinking under control, this is the first time I’m approaching something that is distinctly beginning to look and feel like success. Perhaps it’s true that practice makes perfect. Not that I need to be perfect – just sober.
This time around was very different or at least it feels that way. Whereas I before knew it was a problem and that I needed to stop, it was only 300 days ago that I’d really had enough. Before this, I’d always still wanted to drink despite knowing I had to stop. This time I just knew I didn’t want to drink anymore, problem or no problem – I was done. I’d had enough of feeling like shit every day. I’d had enough of not being my best. I’d had enough of losing control. I’d had enough of being scared. I’d had enough of not being me. I’d had enough of having enough. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Gone were all delusions of being able to stick to weekends only or stopping at a certain number of drinks or any of the other, countless and ultimately ridiculous rules I tried to make myself believe I could abide by. I think I’d also got to that point where even when I was in the middle of drinking it’d become impossible to try to make myself believe it was fun or beneficial somehow. It was like a toxic relationship coming to an end, and it was of course toxic in the literal sense of the word. You can forgive almost anything when you’re still in love, there are almost no limits to the abuse you will suffer through and yet you defend your love. Then suddenly one day you discover you’ve finally fallen out of love and you see your abuser for who they truly are. In that moment, beauty turns ugly.
I think I had to get to that point. I mean, I wish I’d got there much sooner. In fact, knowing what I know now, I obviously wish I’d never bothered with alcohol at all. But I think I needed to really see alcohol’s real nature and understand it and it wasn’t until 300 days ago today that I genuinely did and knew the game was up. It’s something to be grateful for and I am.
It’s often said that we have to hit our rock bottom before we can begin to recover. Of course that rock bottom is different for everyone. My consequences hadn’t yet become visible outwardly I suppose. I mean, I don’t think anyone around me failed to notice I was a little bit too chummy with the old Sauvignon Blanc, but I wasn’t in the gutter. The most accurate and honest way I can put it would be to say that 300 days ago it struck me like lightning: I knew where I was headed and I didn’t want to go there because it terrified me. It wasn’t yet a reality but it was clear that it wasn’t far away if I went on drinking. The beast had its claws deep into me and was breathing down my neck. I wasn’t in the gutter but I instinctively knew how it’d feel and I knew I had to fight for my life if I wanted to have one. I just knew it was over. Luckily, and perhaps thanks in part to falling out of love with booze, it hasn’t been the fight to the death I first thought I was in for. It’s by far the biggest change I’ve ever made and my life has changed infinitely because of it, but I would be lying if I were to say it’s been tough. I’d also be lying if I were to say it’s been easy. It’s been both, is the truthful answer: mostly easy but a little bit tough. What’s also true is that even though I haven’t had to so far, I’d fight to the death any day to keep hold of what I now have.
Today I’m not going to drink.