I was an alcoholic for over 25 years.
During that time I also lived my life like a normal person – I went to college, graduated, went to my job, got married, got divorced, went to graduate school, changed careers, bought a house, got remarried, had kids, joined a Moms club, took my kids to school. Some people close to me knew how much I drank; many did not.
I knew I drank more than most people and more than I should. I knew alcohol made my life harder sometimes. However, I figured I was in control, even if deep in my heart I knew alcohol was really the one in charge.
I tried to cut back once in a while, occasionally going several days without drinking. I would feel better, physically and emotionally. But there would always be a reason to head back out to the bar or pick up a couple bottles of wine on the way home – something to celebrate or mourn, a stressful day to soothe, a friend who needed company. As day turned into night, I could hear the familiar siren song of popping corks and clinking glasses echoing in my head.
In the mornings I would rise groggily from bed as snippets of the previous night returned to my memory, often triggering a lurch in my guts – why? why did I do this to myself again?
It took a Force (a thing I used to call strength or commitment, but I know now to be the scraps of my inner power center) to raise me up to face the day: to dip my pounding head into the sink and wash off the stench of hangover; to paint makeup around my glassy eyes and over my dark circles; to act competent and clear-headed when my entire body begged to be back under the comforter, fetal and forgetting.
For several decades this was my story.
Each day started with new hopes for myself, but by evening I was lost to my addiction.
I functioned — as a teacher, as a wife, as a daughter, as a mother — but I never thrived. Every day welcomed a new battle against the pull of the bottle. Some days I fought harder than others, but most days I gave in.
Until eventually I didn’t.
Enough was enough, perhaps. Or my pain finally became hot enough to light the fire of my determination. Or my love for myself eventually became stronger than my shame. I don’t if I can name it, but something finally shifted three years ago.
On January 7, 2018, I made the decision to quit drinking. You can read my sobriety story “Finding the Razzle Dazzle” here.
It is never too late for a new beginning.