I quit drinking nine months ago. Alcohol was making me feel anxious and depressed and I had this sneaking suspicion that I had a problem. I was relying on my nightly glass or three of wine to cope with everyday life. I’ve been in recovery for nine months now and there are a few things that were really important for me to learn.
1) It doesn’t really matter what you call it. If you feel like you have a problem with alcohol chances are pretty good that you do. Most normal drinkers don’t worry whether their drinking is normal. I asked myself so often – “Do I have a problem with alcohol?” I googled “What are the signs you’re an alcoholic?” many, many times over the years.
2) I am completely powerless over alcohol. As soon as I take that first drink I have zero control over what comes next. Some days I would only have two glasses and feel fine. Other days I would have one glass and become a terrible, awful human being. The point is I always craved more. One was too many and a thousand would never be enough.
3) “I’d rather go through life sober believing I am an alcoholic, than go through life drunk trying to convince myself that I am not.” I was in a lot of denial about my alcoholism. For so long, I struggled with the label alcoholic. I’d never driven drunk, I hadn’t lost a job, I was married with a beautiful baby, I was able to quit drinking during my pregnancy, I was functioning for the most part. At the end I was only drinking 2-3 glasses of wine a night. It doesn’t matter how much you drink, or what consequences you’ve faced from your drinking. What matter is what happens in between your ears. I was thinking about drinking or not drinking all the time. I felt dead inside, hopeless, and obsessed with making it to 7 pm when I put my baby to sleep and I could relax and unwind with my wine.
4) Quitting drinking was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, no one has to do it alone. I tried to quit or cut back on my own several times. This time was different I white knuckled my way through a few weeks and then I knew I needed help if I wanted to quit for good this time. I found an amazing community of recovery online and then eventually they nudged my to find help in person. None of us has to do it alone and I am so grateful.
5) Life without drinking is so flipping fantastic. I feel a profound sense of freedom and peace. Before I quit I worried about never, ever drinking again. I quit in October and I wondered what about Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s how will I enjoy them without drinking?! Cocktail parties? Nights out with girlfriends? I can’t afford to think that way though. I can only take it one day at a time. In reality, being freed of the obsession to drink has allowed me to enjoy these events so much more. I’m not fixated on how much I’m drinking and whether I can have another glass or not. I’m present, really listening and connecting to people. I’m learning my own limits and taking care of them, for example, excusing myself when an event is turning into a trigger. In the early days I had to build myself a little bubble doing whatever I needed to not to drink. I’m nine months into this journey now and I can handle most situations sober. It took a lot of work but each day is better and better.