It snuck up on me this year. This Soberthday. This 14 year anniversary of the day I said ENOUGH and finally stopped all the bullshit lies and asked for help with my alcoholism and then took the help being offered to me seriously. The day I chose life on life’s terms.
That day I walked out of jail and called my parents saying HELP ME PLEASE and true to their desperate words of “we will help you when you are ready but not until then” they came and picked me up with my meager bags of god knows what to carry with me to rehab, I guzzled the rest of what was a bottle of Nyquil in the back seat of their car. They knew. They didn’t want me to go into seizures on the way to detox so they just didn’t say anything as it was happening.
Full up on shame, regret and remorse, I spent time in detox and the psych ward. After the haze wore off and I had to feel, I certainly didn’t want it. But I chose it this time and I continued to feel all the feelings. They were terrible. All of them. Not one good feeling at the beginning there. Not for quite some time. What does it feel like to be an alcoholic? Pretty damn awful for a long time. And then a tiny ray of light creeps in and you follow that light. You follow the people who have what you want. You want that light, that peace.
That day 14 years ago wasn’t my first detox but it was my last. It wasn’t my first rehab but those two months were my last. It was my first halfway house, but those 6 months were my last. GODS WILLING.
Oh the places you will go.
As I sit tonight writing in the dark with a candle going and my two kids in the next room and my husband downstairs watching the Cubs, I am awestruck at the enormity of it all. The what ifs. The questions that will never be answered or have to be answered if I don’t take a drink ever again.
There are terrible horrendous awful things happening in the world right now that are completely out of my control, but the one thing I can control is whether I take a drink or not today. Once I start, I lose that control. I know that.
Would I ever want to risk losing what I have? Think of all the things I would miss.
On my 14th Soberthday I am doing the Resolve Walk for Hope*, and what a perfect event to spend the morning. And then my parents are here. My parents are here. That means everything. I almost took myself away from them. But I came back and added two more to their family.
As I think of my children sleeping in the room next to me I worry for them. They are two years old and yet I know the world they were born into. And it’s not getting better. We have got to make big changes in gun laws and mental health and race relations in this country for every single one of us is affected. And if you don’t think you are in danger, you are fooling yourself. You are. We all are. We can all be part of a better solution if we keep our minds and hearts open. When you deal in absolutes, we are all doomed.
I will never drink again – it’s not an option. That’s an absolute. I try my best not to deal in absolutes these days. I hope like hell every day I wake up I choose sobriety, but I don’t know for sure that I will. That bottle of Nyquil is always there if I really want it. And some days it actually looks pretty good.
Not today though. Today I celebrate. I celebrate that I get to be here in a safe, warm home with my family. With my kids who ripped my glasses off while I was hugging them goodnight, but then felt so badly about it they called me back in to say “sorry we ripped your glasses off mama. I wuv you too.”
My parents are in town this weekend and that relationship is everything. It is so precious my eyes water and my heart lurches each time I think of it.
They are mine and I am theirs. And now these kids.
My husband is my rock. My best friend that I don’t treat nearly as well as I should some of the time. A peril of relationships while parenting. In the car tonight he made me laugh so hard I had tears streaming down my face because I was so confidently singing the wrong lyrics to a song. It was dangerous really as I couldn’t see to drive. MORE PLEASE. That’s the only way we get through some days of parenting.
Now why in the world would I ever want to miss that? The pull of this disease is stronger than any love I’ve ever known or will ever know. That’s a simple fact. But if I keep doing the next right thing, it doesn’t win. I win. My family wins.
Many never get it. So many never ever get it and the wreckage is inestimable. I am so sorry. It’s never about how much we love the people in our lives. It’s never a question of choosing drink over you. It’s a sickness. And the cycle of shame, guilt and remorse is so deadly we watch people die every single day full of regret and remorse. Gratitude and forgiveness heals. So many never experience that peace and my heart breaks. It’s why I share the way I do.
That Nyquil doesn’t look even half good right now. My gratitude list absolutely overflows. Thank you to every single one of you reading this, as you help keep me sober each and every day. This doesn’t happen alone. Community is the key. Gratitude and community and “Me too”.
* I defend IVF here.
If you’d like to read more about my sobriety and recovery, please check out these links –
All past Sobriety posts on ChicagoNow
All past Sobriety posts on I Want a Dumpster Baby – my old blog
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