In 2010 I was 35 and I rarely drank. By the end of 2012 I knew I was drinking too much. I had a couple of semi-horrifying decisions under my belt (or my bed?) proving that Drunk Girl really should not have the keys to my life. In 2013 I was moderately concerned I might die choking on my own vomit. In 2014 I made a few attempts to cut back. And I threw up some more. And spent my birthday in a hotel with a bottle of whiskey flirting with departing the planet Jim Morrison style. In 2015, I cut back. Some. Mostly out of fear of departing the planet Jim Morrison style. On July 20 2016 I decided I did not want to drink anymore. At least for a while. Cruising toward five months of sobriety, that is a much longer time period than I intended. Or could imagine?
I am frustrated with not magically creating a new soft glowy life in four months. But when I make myself confront the truth…the whole truth… that it took one year for drinking to become a problem and four more years for me to decide it was enough and to STOP, then I can see where I am. I am over four months without a drop of alcohol. I am sifting through the wreckage to see what I want to salvage and what I want to throw away. I have stopped the downward slide into an early(ish) grave. Everything is a mess but hopefully I am not pulling more disaster in on me anymore.
I gave up on life. I hated my job, my relationships had all failed spectacularly, I gave up and I got drunk and I stayed drunk. So I am dealing with four years of a life I had given up on. I can’t fix it in four months. I am, however, healthier. My weight is coming down. My animals are well cared for. I finally cancelled the cable that I haven’t used for two years but paid $120 a month for lol. I am rebuilding friendships, my relationship with my brother is better than it has been since we were children. I have spent more time with my family in the last four months than I had in the previous two years and I wasn’t a surly wreck.
There is much…SO MUCH…to do and it overwhelms and depresses me but when I just count the positives, I can breathe a bit. That is what I am doing this rainy grey morning. Counting the positives. Trying to keep the panic at bay, keep my racing thoughts slowed and sorted. AND when I finally quit drinking, I didn’t even end up in hospital so that’s cool too. I guess that two year taper wasn’t all for nothing lol. It is hard to shake off the shame when you are still surrounded by the evidence of your dysfunction. I can see in my writing the push and pull of hope vs despair. It plays out paragraph by paragraph. Am I better off than I was a year ago? For the first time in years I can say yes. Am I gutted by the wasted time? Also yes. That whole “I don’t really remember those years” doesn’t sound as cool when you’re not Keith Richards.
How to cut the past loose, to give it no power when we all live with the collective influence of our past? That has always been hard for me. I remember stupid things I said when I was in elementary school. I remember every mistake. They tell me all the time in their big fog of collective fuck ups “you’re not good enough.” I wish I had stopped doing the laundry that last day and gone immediately to the hospital. That morning has stalked me for 13 years. I wish a million things different but nothing can be undone. I can only start from here. “Here” is four months better than it could have been.