I am 239 days sober today. In the grand scheme of things, that is barely a blip on the radar or drop in the bucket; when I think of how many days I was drunk, 239 days sober seems like one little speck of sand on a sandy beach. The crazy thing is how much more the 239 days of sobriety have affected my view of the world than the many, many days of drinking. It makes sense when I think about it, obviously drinking was a way to avoid the world. Now, I am in it every minute of every day!
Outside of my sober women’s group, only 9 people know that I quit drinking. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, it’s not easy telling people. Our society judges drunks more harshly than others. If you quit smoking, you are congratulated. If you are a drug addict that quits heroin you are celebrated. But if you quit drinking, you are judged. Our society has convinced itself that alcohol is OK. So, if for some strange reason (“because it’s not a real drug”) you can’t control how much you drink (“no reason anyone should struggle with limiting their consumption since it’s not a real drug”) there is obviously something wrong with YOU. “Normal people” have no problems with drinking alcohol. “Normal people” can drink when they want, stop when they want, and never even think about drinking more than they should. And if “normal people” do, it’s just that one night when they had a ‘few to many’.
I decided to quit drinking many times. Like most drunks, it’s not something that usually works out the first time around. At one point, I even figured out how to “moderate” for about a year – I only drank on Saturdays. I was able to lose weight and was feeling good! But then, I added in Sundays – still part of the weekend, right? Then I included Friday…and eventually, like all attempts at moderation, I failed and I was drinking everyday again. Finally, at the end of June in the year of the Pandemic, I decided again, it was time to quit, and I found Kate Bee’s “Sober School”. It has been a blessing. Finally, I was able to let it all go. The drinking, the shame, the stress, the secrecy, the sadness, – everything that came with the drinking. I had no idea it could be so freeing! I didn’t know that life on the “other side” of drinking could be so wonderful!
I really want to share my sobriety with people but it feels a bit odd. It’s not like you just “announce it” to everyone. You don’t just post on Facebook, “I quit drinking! I am sober now!” It’s a private, personal thing. But, I don’t want it to be a secret either. I think quitting during the pandemic also made it interesting. I haven’t seen most of my friends in almost a year. I haven’t been out to a restaurant in almost a year. I haven’t been to my office either. In some ways it’s made it easier to quit drinking. While most of my drinking was done at home alone, it is still safer being in my home because I can eliminate any temptations. I still don’t know how I will react when I am exposed to the “real world” again. Will I struggle if I go to a restaurant? Will it be really hard not drinking if I am with my friends when they are drinking? How do I handle the first Happy Hour invite? I have never been “sober” before. I don’t know what I don’t know. I can’t say I really worry about it. I don’t…I don’t think about it much to be honest. It will happen and I will deal with it then. But sometimes, not knowing and not having those experiences, makes me feel like I haven’t really, truly succeeded in sobriety yet.
I recently told one of my new friends – one of my sober sisters – that being sober gives me a feeling of “superiority”. Afterwards, I realized how “snobby” that sounded. However, I didn’t mean it in a snobby/condescending way. I guess I feel like I know something that so many others don’t…and having that knowledge about alcohol, it’s like a doctor having the knowledge of anatomy that allows them to do surgery. I now understand something about alcohol that many others don’t. And that knowledge has helped me move beyond the throws of addiction to a new place that is far above it. Not only do I know what to do, but I finally learned how to do it! There is something superior about that and I won’t deny it.
I have been thinking about it a lot…how to share my news, how to tell others – the ones I care about, that I quit. Right now, I realize that there is no rush. There is nothing that says I need everyone to know right now. Part of me feels like telling people makes it real. But honestly, even if no one ever knows – it is real. My sobriety is my reality. And the only thing that can change my reality is to no longer be sober. And that is never going to happen. Not now that I know what I know.
Always, Ms. K