I’d like to offer you a light-hearted invitation to a celebration – a celebration of taking back your freedom that we call Sober September. Actually, this month, the celebration is A Sober September but it’s not a celebration that is only in September. This celebration is all about how you live today, whether today is in September, December, October, or May. The perspective of approaching stopping drinking with hope and a light heart is different by far from what I always expected going sober to be. I always felt dark, discouraged, ashamed, and afraid when I tried to wrap my mind around stopping drinking. But this different perspective has finally worked for me.
Here is that light-hearted invitation to a Sober September. I hope you’ll join us!
Knowing what I do about what alcohol does to your mind, body, and spirit – how it uses and abuses – you’d think I’d never have allowed it to remain in my life – just as I’d never allow an abusive person to remain in my life. (At least… I wouldn’t now.)
But.. for decades I did share myself and my home with booze, even though….
*Alcohol consistently lied about what it could do for me – and time and time again, promised to help me, but never followed through.
*It threatened that I couldn’t possibly make it through life without it.
*It insisted that I stay fixated on it, making connections with others more difficult.
*It expected that I give up most or all of the things I loved to do in order that I stay focused on it.
*It disregarded my health and made it harder and harder to get to the gym.
*It pointed out the faults of others, pushed me to harshly criticize others, and encouraged me to say the most hurtful things during arguments.
*It was pleased when I held a grudge.
*It isolated me.
*It became so time-consuming and exhausting to be with that if/when I made it to work the next day, I was no longer fully present during my tasks or with my co-workers.
*It made me completely forget events or moments with family or friends so that time spent in it’s company was the only thing I remembered.
*It told me I’m not capable. Not worthy. Unloveable.
*It whispered I’m a failure.
*It became the center of my life, and I became just a shell of the person I once was.
And even though it was the catalyst for all of the above-mentioned things… at times, if I couldn’t handle the intensity of our relationship, it then shamed me for being weak, defective, or diseased.
All of it, I later read and learned is the very definition of narcissistic abuse!
As adamant as I am that I’d never allow an actual person to treat me in such a way, I did allow alcohol to do so! I was deeply involved with that narcissistic abuser who lives in a bottle. 30 whole years.. and I didn’t leave (until recently).
Oh, I tried to escape many times. After yet another horrible night of abuse, I’d resolve the next morning to never go back. But then evening would arrive… and I’d hear that seductive voice:
“Come on… think of all the good times we’ve had. I’ve been by your side for sooo many years… no one knows you like *I* do. Listen… let’s spend the evening together – and let me help you forget that tough day you’ve had…”
I would warily trust again – hoping that this time would be different. This time there would be a change.
But it would begin again. The abuse.
And I’d descend once again into the dark relationship that is me and alcohol. I’d swim deep down into that darkness. Deeper each time. I’d let it envelop me. Warm and cool, high and very low… swimming in the smooth current. I’d swim in the darkness.. until my lungs would hurt and I’d always almost drown. Then I’d emerge at the surface, gasping, and realize that another night of broken promises, injuries, and chaos had happened – all in place of that promised sweet night of bliss.
I’d roll over in the morning, look at the bottles resting there, and vow *never again*.
Eventually booze became so increasingly cunning and hard to resist that I began to believe it’s lies. And I began to question myself. Maybe it really is *me*. Maybe I *am* crazy. Was it really that bad? But I also started reading (secretly at first) about this kind of abuse. The more I read, the more I realized that no, I’m not crazy. No, I’m not defective! There is nothing wrong with me – but there is something terribly wrong with my abuser. It’s very nature is abusive. That’s how it’s made. And it will not change.
But I can change.
I made up my mind.
I vividly remember (and will always remember) the night before my last Day 1.
I had polished off close to 2 bottles of wine (this was becoming nightly now) and was in that blurred state of reality just before a blackout comes. The room was pitch dark and I layed down (before I fell down) and stared up at the ceiling. But instead of drifting off into oblivion like most nights, I noticed my heart pounding out of my chest. And not only pounding, but pounding irregularly. It actually sounded like it was stumbling.. trying desperately to find its rhythm again. I rolled to my side thinking it might correct itself…and still, the pounding. Skipping. Struggling.
I felt myself more aware now… and increasingly afraid. I could hear that pounding in my ears… and feel my heart trying so hard to beat normally – almost like it was drowning. Other parts of my body were reacting to the huge influx of booze also. My hands were shaky… my feet were burning with neuropathy (I had noticed this starting to happen more and more over the months, even during the day). Nerves felt like they were misfiring. I turned over… and then over again. Nothing “worked” this time to quiet my body or my mind. In fact, the longer I layed there, the more the physical symptoms increased. My heart. Ugh, my chest. How do I make this stop?
I stared into the darkness. I can imagine how wide with fear my eyes must have been. It occurred to me, even in that drunken haze, that my body seemed to be shutting down. Almost like there was an imaginary line – and this time, this amount of booze, this circumstance… everything together had crossed that line .. and I was deeply aware that I was not going to wake up in the morning. This was it. I’d rolled the dice one too may times, thinking I’d get lucky again… but this was the end of that lucky streak that had lasted for decades.
As drunk as I was, I still had some clarity .. at least enough that I started to panic. I was suddenly terrified that I had a substance in my body in a quantity that was way beyond what my organs could filter…and that there was nothing I could do now but to ride it out, and pray that somehow I’d make it through the night. I started to recall all of those stories I’d read about alcohol poisoning. I thought of people like Amy Winehouse. My stomach turned. I started to pray. Pray that I wouldn’t just die right there in my bed with booze on my breath. Die with my phone next to me with all the drunken texts I’d sent out that evening….. with the sharp words I’d said to my family still hanging in the air …and with so many things left undone…. with empty bottles beside me … with the sheets wet from my bowels letting go after death, and my family finding me that way and having to live with that memory for the rest of their lives.
My heart kept struggling along through the night. The wee hours, as they say. And my life kept flashing before me. Images of my family. My son as a baby… and toddler… and now, a young man. I could see myself walking the floor with him as an infant, trying to soothe him to sleep. I could see myself running behind him and cheering as he peddled off on his bike for the first time. I could see him at his first karate promotion as he scanned the crowd of parents to see where I was and that I was watching. And I could see him now… a young man, almost 16… his features changed and matured from that beautiful round baby face to more defined handsome features and a thousand-watt smile. I layed there, hot tears streaking down my face, and felt all of my life slipping away, even as I reached out a shaky hand to grasp it in the darkness. Please God, let me live. Please don’t let him find me like this in the morning. Please don’t let me leave him an orphan. He has his whole life ahead of him. Please. Please help me.
I can only describe the rest of that night as one of my body desperately struggling to make it through, and my whole being crying out to God that I be allowed to live one more day. If I could just make it through to the sunrise… I’d have a chance. I’d have another chance and I’d take it. On through the night.. hours slowly passing.. an eternity of sweating, shaking, crying and praying.
And then.. the quiet came. Body and mind.
At some point, the darkness gave way. I could see pale light filtering through the blinds. I layed there wrapped in my comforter, exhausted but fully awake. Still staring up at the ceiling.. then looking around the room… shadows starting to fade as the sun was coming up. I could hear my son’s two parakeets starting to make their soft morning sounds downstairs. I could hear the sound of the coffeemaker. I could hear a neighbors lawnmower fire up and get going. The morning sounds…so familiar.. and yet all of the sudden the sweetest sounds I had ever heard. I was alive! I had made it! My head felt like crap and every fiber of my body ached… but I was still alive!
That day, foggy-headed, slowly making my way downstairs and seeing my son in the kitchen getting his cereal – and hearing his good morning – and feeling his hug .. I can’t describe the deep wave of gratitude that washed over me. I just don’t have the words.
But I had been given my chance. Another Day 1.
I had had a million Day 1’s before …but this one was different. This one was life or death. It wasn’t a game anymore… or hoping I’d get lucky. It was making the conscious decision to choose my life and my family over poison. A poison that’s sole purpose is to foster addiction, and sole end is death on so many levels. I was given a deep awareness – the great gift of awareness! – that it was killing me, and that if I didn’t quit now, I wouldn’t make it to 50 yrs old. Guaranteed. So I embarked on this sober journey… this time, for good.
I relay this story, yes, to scare you! It is scary! It is scary to hear what booze can do to you… and even scarier to live it out! And fear is a great motivator! But more than that… I share this with you because I want you to know that there is hope! No matter how far down you are in this addiction…no matter what you’ve done.. no matter how ashamed you are. You can come back and have another chance. The fight is still in you! Alcohol is a nameless, faceless, inanimate substance that does NOT have the power to do anything to you, unless you open the door and allow it in. You are in control of it, not the other way around. You can quit. For good.
As hard as it was, as terrifying as it was to strike out on my own after so many years – I finally fled. I felt like I was leaving behind my security blanket. How would I survive? But searching, I found this community. Here, I found others who had escaped, just like me! And the work of healing began.
BOOM really is my “home for battered women”. I am safe here. I’m amidst others who have experienced similar trauma – women and men – all in varying degrees and stages of healing. Some endured decades of abuse and others for a lesser time. Others are still desperately trying to break free from their abuser and remain that way for good. But, without judgment, we share our stories. We laugh and we cry together. We listen and understand. We gain confidence. We find ourselves. We rebuild. We make plans for the future. We hope again.
We are forever linked, because we’ve all survived the same abuser.
There are resources galore here on Boom.. and to me, reading reading reading! soooo helped me to stay on track and pick up tools that I can use that get me through cravings, and help me adjust to the newness of sober living. Reading other people’s stories and getting advice has been priceless. I tried so many times to get sober on my own but it wasn’t until I had the support of this community that sobriety started to stick. I can’t express enough or accurately how much everyone here means to me.. every word of encouragement, every understanding ear, every little heart emoji! Love you and thank you, thank you all.
For anyone just starting, or those getting up after another fall – you CAN do this!! You’re in the right place! You’re here for a reason! I’m with you! We can do this together! Never quit trying to quit! 💥 💖 🙏 🕊
Wherever you are on this journey, you *can* be free! There is a New Life waiting for you on the other side! And I am with you today, alcohol-free. ❤ 🙏 🕊
Life is too short to waste it wasted
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