Today is an important day for me. Today is my son’s birthday. He is already in his 30’s and that’s how long my relationship with alcohol pushed him out the way. For a large part of his life, I wasn’t present. Oh, I was there – but I wasn’t there for him. Because I was too engaged in my completely messed up self. And now, he has grown up with his own set of insecurities and issues to deal with. Would this have been different if I hadn’t had drank? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. There are a lot of people that drink who make great parents. And there are a lot of people who don’t. I’ll never know but I AM present now. My sobriety doesn’t take away the guilt, but it is healing and life confirming to feel like I am finally making good choices.
Part of the problem with DRINKING GUILT is that you actually have no idea whether you are imagining things to have been worse, or whether the reality is worse than you imagined. All your memories are hazy, sketchy bits and pieces – that is 30 years of my life – distorted snapshots that are tainted with shame, insecurity, sadness, and loss.
Back then when it all started, I wasn’t to know how insidious my relationship with alcohol would be, until it had me so firmly in its grip, it would prove far more difficult to escape than all the destructive relationships that I had ever had in my life put together. Yet, it was still a shock to realize that I had a REAL problem with drink. And the harder I tried to fix that relationship, the worse it became. I spent 30 years trying to fix THAT relationship, while everything else in my life fell apart. Family – Career – Creativity – Potential – all down the drain. I lost myself in THAT relationship with alcohol. Perhaps, even sadder, is that I couldn’t see it for what it was – I just felt trapped, a victim stuck in that awful cycle of drink, rinse, repeat.
I spent so long thinking how much I would lose if I gave alcohol up – it felt like I was losing my best friend. I spent days, weeks, months, years obsessing over this loss, without realizing that in the process, I lost ME. 30 YEARS OF ME. What a tragic waste. Had I been braver, or more determined, perhaps I would have kicked that ugly destructive friend out a long time ago. But I didn’t – I don’t know why. There were times when I felt like there were two people living inside me – and one voice was always so much louder, drowning me out. At my lowest I tried many things to stop – AA, Naltrexone – you name it. None of them worked for me. I couldn’t let go or see that if I just moved away from it for a few months and gave myself enough space, I would find that the noise stopped and that I didn’t need to drink, or even think about it anymore. On my last Day 1, I made one simple rule that I stuck to – that I wouldn’t worry about tomorrow, I just wouldn’t drink today. Perhaps, we all have to find our own way and some just take longer to get there. Some don’t make it. I am so grateful that I have got this far.
I am 6 months alcohol free – with distance from alcohol, my perspective of my life is changing. With the relief that comes from not having the constant argument going on in my head; without the guilt and shame clouding my thoughts and eroding my self-esteem, I am able to examine my life with a measured, more empathetic approach – In sobriety I am cleaning away the dirt and accepting all the cracks and ugliness of my imperfect being because no amount of self-denigration will turn back the clock or add anything of value to either my, or my family’s life. By pushing on, I am discovering all the potential of who I REALLY AM. It feels like a miracle.
I don’t notice it on a daily basis, and it still surprises me, when I look back over the past few months, how much I have already achieved. My head is clearer, my thoughts and memory sharper than ever – I am able to take on all those projects that I wanted to do, but never completed – brain fog and hangover sickness always robbed me of this. I have so much more energy, I feel happier and better able to cope with the bad days and the sad days – I seldom have fits of depression anymore. I don’t worry obsessively about my health anymore. I’m truly excited about my life and so very, very determined to succeed, but in a quiet steady way. There is so much that I want to do – I wasted so much – but now, I am pushing the boundaries of all that I am and can be. It is a joy discovering who I am becoming.
The greatest joy for me, however, comes from knowing that I am the loving, solid, responsible, dependable mom to my son, and I had a chance in this life to prove that.
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