It has been 60 days since I have had a drop of alcohol. This time last year I was pleased that I lasted 24 hours dry at my grandmother’s. I have to admit, I am pretty proud of that 60 day mark. It is a huge accomplishment for me and also a beginning point, not a finish line. I feel more like a person who doesn’t drink anymore and less like I am *trying* not to drink. I am Sober Chick. I am not entirely sure what that means but I like saying it. And after keeping myself secluded in the sober safety of my home for the last couple of months, I feel it is time to start blending back into society. Is it too soon? I have no idea.
I have several social events planned in the next couple of months. Two concerts, a camping trip, a family meet up out-of-town. I feel like I am making my sober debut for the hippie autumn social season. I don’t know if these events will be easy or difficult to abstain from alcohol which has definitely been a lubricant for my recreational human interaction the last few years. Can I be comfortable in my own skin or will I sway awkwardly back and forth because I can no longer jump around and sing off-key unless I’m spilling beer in the process? Can I meet people and make conversation or will I stare at my lap? I have no idea.
Also if I was secretly drinking, am I secretly sober? Nobody knows that I drank a bottle of wine after I left their dinner party where I had politely waved off the offer of a drink. Or that after I drank a single beer around the campfire, there were tiny bottles of vodka hidden in my tent for later. Part of that was even at the worst of it, I did not drive drunk. I didn’t drive buzzed. If I had to drive myself home, I didn’t drink. If I told most people I’ve quit drinking, they’d be puzzled as to how I can quit something I never did. I have shared with two friends (to whom I had lied the least about my drinking) that it got a bit out of hand and I decided it was best to take a break. But most people never saw, never heard the truth and have no idea that my not drinking is a big huge deal. To those who have noticed I look better, I explain that I gave up wheat, dairy and alcohol. I suspect, much as I would like to credit the fresh vegetables, that it is more the lack of alcohol that is responsible for my improved mood and appearance. But nobody is like “oh thank God you quit drinking, we were afraid you were gonna die!” Well, nobody but me. Am I secretly sober? I have no idea.
My parents did not drink. With the exception of the year I turned 21, it was rare that I imbibed. Until sometime after I was 35 and I just broke down under stress and anxiety and dove headfirst into the bottle not to resurface until two months ago. All of these things that I must relearn to do sober are things I used to know how to do. But something had to be off, unbalanced or unhealed in my previous sober life to create the me who dove into the bottle. I don’t want to do life the way I did it before I started drinking. I want to do it better so that I don’t find myself to have circled right back to the same place where I got so lost. How do I do that? I have no idea.
So here I am, stone cold sober for 60 days. My 41st birthday is coming up. I have no idea what my future holds. I have no idea. I know that today I got out of bed, showered, shopped, went to gym, paid bills, played with my dog, did the laundry and did not drink. I know that at least I’m showing up to my own existence instead of titrating my consciousness to a rass of -1 to -2 every night. I want desperately to find the next thing that will set my soul on fire but I know that learning to be in my own skin is the first step and I have to take the time to get that right.
I am grateful to all of you who share your stories. Your honesty and vulnerability helps me to feel that I didn’t fail at being a good drinker, I succeeded in…as Johnny Depp said … “thoroughly investigating wine and spirits” and then seeing through the bullshit. Let us raise a toast to one another…glasses of Pellegrino and lemon water and sparking cranberry…and say “Fuck yeah! We all deserve to be happy! And we don’t deserve destroying ourselves when we’re not happy! Let’s keep climbing, sober kittens!” Tomorrow I’ll be grouchy again but today I have chosen for 60 days in a row to feel all the damned feelings and stay sober and I think this concludes my 60 Days Sober acceptance speech.