Today I am celebrating five years living alcohol free. How I ended up here is remarkable, really. Looking back at my life prior to sobriety, I drank for a lot of reasons. In the beginning, I liked who I was when I drank - I was more confident and carefree. But by the end, I was so ashamed of who I was when I drank. Quite frankly, I couldn't stop drinking even when I wanted to. By then, it was the worst habit I'd ever formed.
I first tried alcohol in high school at parties. Zima & Boone's Farm were my go-to's because they were the "girly drinks," and to be honest, they didn't taste like shit. I have always had a sweet tooth and naturally the drinks with a lot of sugar were my favorites. Moscato, mojitos, daquiris, and amaretto were in the regular rotation in college and beyond.
I loved the way alcohol made me feel. I was lighter, braver, and sexier. Invincible. "Drinking and dancing this weekend?" I was always in. A few drinks later and I could be spotted on that dance floor with my arms in the air, my eyes closed, my hips swaying and dancing with anyone who came near me. It was as though the music was pulsating through my blood. Turns out, it was the alcohol (who knew).
Decisions I made while intoxicated are at best sketchy. The next day is when the shame would pour over me like hot lava coating the entire city of Pompeii. Shame is suffocating. It's unforgiving. And isolating. Oh, and I could never forget the hangovers. Our bodies are not built for the abuse that alcohol can render, especially on a repetitive basis.
But I kept going back for more. We live in a society that encourages alcohol use. Wanna have fun at your BBQ? Don't forget the beer! Getting married? New job? Graduating? How about some champagne? Have a baby and want to connect with other new moms? Bring wine to the playdates! We have absorbed these messages from the time we were kids - they're in movies, advertising, TV shows, at family gatherings, and now all over social media. Pretty hard not to get caught up in it, right? It's frickin' near impossible! I was addicted.
I am grateful to have broken my cycle. Do I hate alcohol now? No, I just know that we can't be friends anymore. Do I think I'm better than my friends or family who drink? No. A lot of the time, I actually feel jealousy. I'm working on that, though. The shame still lingers and weighs heavily on me. While I cognitively understand it's best for me and my body that I choose not to drink, emotionally I still crave to feel the "high" of being drunk. I think I described that right, but to be honest, I'm not sure.
I continue to share parts of my story in hopes of letting someone else know they're not alone. Living without alcohol is possible. Living without alcohol happily is possible. It's not without challenges, though. Having a support system is key. Without the love and unwavering faith from my husband and daughter, I just don't know if I could have come this far. Without the cheering and acceptance from my friends, I don't know that I would still want to live soberly. Surround yourself with people who love you for you.
While I'm not an expert, a doctor, a therapist, or a professional anything, I am a good listener. If you find yourself needing to make a change in your life, reach out to me and feel confident that I won't judge you, but love you through it. You are enough.