I think back to the beginning of my sobriety story. How it all seemed to come out of nowhere, but came together so seamlessly. How in those early days I had no idea what I was even doing, or what it meant to be sober.
I never hit the kind of rock-bottom we see sensationalized in the media. There was no DUI, no court man-dated rehab, no drinking first thing in the morning, no public display of anything. Instead, I hit an emotional rock-bottom. Just a mom, sitting on her couch with a bottle of wine, feeling like shit and knowing that something needed to change.
I was working with a health coach at the time. She knew nothing about my drinking. I’d been hiding it from our weekly check-ins. And, then out of the blue one day she casually mentioned how she stopped drinking for a year, and how that kick-started her weight loss and how she hardly ever drinks now. That all sounded good to me. I had come off a particularly bad weekend of drinking, I had gained a few pounds during my divorce proceedings, and desperately wanted to feel better.
October 7th, 2018, I made the decision to quit for 30 days. That seemed a reasonable amount of time. Enough time to get things kick-started. But, not enough to get in the way of my lifestyle. I was planning to meet my college roommates at an all-inclusive in Mexico in November. I figured those 30 days would give me enough time to detox and feel better about myself.
I mentioned my plans to quit drinking for 30 days to two of my friends who are in long term recovery, and that is when they swooped in and lifted me up. They just knew. They knew how I was feeling emotionally. They knew the heaviness that was in my decision to make a change. They knew how to embrace me and how to support me. And they didn’t even question it.
They knew that when someone begins to question their relationship with alcohol there’s a teeny tiny space to be there for that person. To offer your understanding and your validation. To let them know that they’re seen. And, if there’s no one there to do these things, that window snaps shut.
I didn’t even know what those early days meant. The grief that came up. All the things I thought I was losing if I didn’t have alcohol in my life.
I didn’t know I would find the self that I thought I had lost. I wasn’t ready for the clarity and the peace that would come with not drinking. That’s the part that’s so freeing. And, I know this is the part where it gets kind of “woo” but it’s also the part that is so hard to explain.
Reaching out to people who believed me, when I told them how alcohol was making me feel, made all the difference in the world.
Recovery doesn’t happen in isolated church basements, in separate rooms where we remain anonymous, and closeted, and separate. It happens in the middle of your messy fucking life. It needs to happen with all the joy and the fanfare that rightly accompanies the brave choice of stepping away from an addictive substance that is dragging you down.
Recovery needs to happen in the middle of your PTA meeting, your staff meeting, your family dinner, your book club. All the places where you let the other members know that you’ve decided to get rid of alcohol because it’s no longer working for you, how it’s fucking up your life, keeping your head under water when all you want to do is rise up. You know there’s at least one other person in that room, if not more, who needs to hear your words, that it’s okay to back away from the alcohol.
Announcing to your community that you need help, and here are your boundaries and here is what I need and just the freedom to finally be honest with yourself that this is no longer working, is so fucking powerful.
But, if you don’t find love and support with the people in your circle, make sure to reach out to someone who gets it. All you need is that one person in your corner, that one person who believes in you.