The day I chose sobriety

I sat crying in the passenger seat of my car.

I was shaking uncontrollably.

Outside, the sun beat down, stifling each breath I took.

How did I get to this point?

Mr C gently took my hand.

“If you aren’t ready, we don’t have to do this today.”

I shook my head.

No, if I didn’t do this now, I knew it was unlikely I would ever do it.

I pulled down the visor and looked at myself in its tiny mirror.

I was tired, beleaguered, I had reached the bottom.  My face was red, bloated and the person that stared back at me was a stranger.

I drew a deep, long, staggered breath.

Please dear God, don’t let this really be my story.

As if he was reading my thoughts, Mr C squeezed my hand a little tighter.

God, it is so hot inside this car!

“Are you ready?” he gently asked.

No, no, no.  No I am not ready.  I don’t want to do this.  I don’t want to be here.  How did I get here?  Why did I get here?  I am not this woman that stands before me. I am not this story.  This is not MY story.  This is not me.  I don’t want it to be me.

Another deep, tired, staggered breath.

But it was me.  It is me.

I slapped my hands to my face and screamed, tears flowing freely down my ruddy bloated cheeks.  I sobbed.

People around us were piling out of their cars, but I did not notice them, did not see them.

All I could hear was the beating drum that was my shattered soul.

How on earth did I reach this place?

I cried a little longer.

“Okay, we better go,” I said.  “Wait.  What if there is someone I know there?”

“Then they are there for the EXACT same reason you are, Sarah.  And your secret is safe with them.”

I nodded.

I got out of the car and walked to the entrance of the church hall.  Mr C held my hand tightly.  A lady was there, welcoming members old and new.

“Is this your first meeting?”

I nodded assuming I looked lost and frightened.

“I’m Ann*.  Welcome.  You will find love and support here.  What is your name?”

“I’m Mr C and this is Sarah.  I’m here for support.”  

Ann* looked at me and smiled.  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

“Oh, my dear.”  She gently put her arms around me and led me inside.

I looked up and my heart stopped.

My worst fears.

A mom from school.

We didn’t really know each other.  Only by sight.  We had that relationship that extended to a nod if we happened to see each other outside of school.  I tried to remember if there were any signs of her affliction.  None that I could remember, none that stood out.

Mr C and I sat down.

I was struck by how many women there were.  When my dad had become sober, all I remember at those meetings were men and one or two women at best.  Now, as I scanned the room for any other people who may now know my secret and my shame, I saw at least 50/50.

I listened to the stories.  I saw myself in every single one of them.  With each one my heart sank a little lower, something I didn’t think was possible.

There was no escaping the truth.

I am an alcoholic.  I am powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable.

I felt sick.

A feeling of panic rose up inside of me.  I knew that in order to mentally heal, I had to be free of alcohol.  And that scared the fucking crap out of me.

After the meeting, everyone chatted over a cup of tea.

I wanted to run, but Mr C would not let me.

“Let’s just get tea.”

I didn’t fucking want tea.  I wanted to run, to dive into a bottle of wine and pretend this whole fucking thing had never happened.

“Hi.” 

I turned around.

The mom from school!

“I thought it best I just come and say hi.  I didn’t want you to feel awkward.”

And without warning, no fucking warning whatsoever, I burst into tears.  I couldn’t help it.  I was broken.  My soul and my life was so broken.  How on earth did this happen?  I knew the signs, had lived with them my entire life.  Why the hell didn’t I recognise them in myself?

She put her arms around me and hugged me.  She hugged me tighter than I would normally allow any stranger to hug me.  But I didn’t care.  I couldn’t care.  I was broken and I had no idea how to fix it.

She didn’t say anything at first.  She just hugged.  And Mr C stroked my arm.  And 30 other members drank their tea.  And my tears kept coming.  And I couldn’t breathe.

After a while, I found my breath.  I pulled away slightly and nodded.

“I don’t think we have ever been formally introduced,” she said, “I’m Alice*.”  

Alice* had got up to tell her story.  A story which was every bit the mirror of my own.

She handed me some literature, a standard procedure at an AA meeting.  She also handed me her phone number.  She asked where I lived.  It turned out we lived right around the corner from one another.  For a second, my heart sank at that knowledge.  No sneaky trips to the bottle store then.

“Would you like me to pick you up to take you to a couple more meetings this week?” she asked.

“Sarah would love that,” Mr C replied, before I had chance to decline.

And so it began, my journey to sobriety, with a woman who had the same journey as I but far more wisdom, and patience and kindness.  Nearly six years in and I am far less broken, but not quite whole.  That is okay.

[clickToTweet tweet=”This human existence is filled with potholes, it is our job to navigate our way around them.” quote=”This human existence is filled with potholes, it is our job to learn to navigate our way around them.”]

I still miss alcohol.  I do.

But like any loss, you learn to live without it.

It doesn’t call me like it used to, but I still have to keep check.  Sometimes, I miss the dutch courage it affords me, I miss being the life and soul of the party.  Sometimes I find myself inching towards its clutches of seduction.  I have to remind myself that what alcohol affords me is an illusion.  That what alcohol brings out in me, is not real, not the real Sarah.

And that is something I learn and improve upon one day at a time.

Much love,

SHW Signature AmyG Font

 

 

* Names have been changed to protect the identities of the people in this story.

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16 thoughts on “The day I chose sobriety

  1. I remember reading your post last year and thinking how awesome you were to overcome this disease, of which it is, my grandmother was an alco and the stories my mum used to tell me about her, so sad and scary. You rock Sarah and here’s to you owning the booze and it not owning you! Here’s to 6 more years 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much Emily, I really appreciate that. It is a sad truth that too many people never find their way to sobriety. I am lucky that I was never a mean drunk, but it did affect my children although at the time they denied this. It is a disease that affects the entire family and they have now admitted that they have worried I will start drinking again. All I can do is manage one day at a time, and nearly six years later here I am for which I and my family are eternally grateful. xx

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  2. I’m so glad you did that Sarah. I am so glad you do it every moment you start to yearn for alcohol. You are a warrior and there is nothing so beautiful as a woman fighting for her family, for her freedom. You rock the warpaint!

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    1. Thank you so much Rachel. At times it is an upward battle which is why some clever person invented “one day at a time”. I can manage that, we all can, and so I continue along those lines. It helps having cheerleaders though, and I thank you so much for that.

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    1. Dani, thank you so much for your lovely kind words, and thank you for sharing. It is why I write, in the hope that someone somewhere will read my words and know that they too can make the step, and take the journey, and that they are not alone. xx

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  3. That must have been a hard one to hit the publish button on. But it must also be a huge comfort to others who have not yet taken that step. I thank goodness I just don’t like alcohol any more and was able to simply choose not to have it. I got staggering drunk one night about 20 years ago after I job I had worked on that night went wrong. I was so ill for a week afterwards that the sight and smell of alcohol makes me feel nauseous and I haven’t had a drop since.

    Sugar was my addiction and even though I knew it was killing me slowly, it still took me a long time to get free of the cravings, so I kind of know that overwhelming temptation to have something even though you know you will suffer and so will those around you. The brain fog and mood swings I used to get after eating sugar (chocolate bars, candy, cakes, biscuits, soda etc) were crippling and yet still I was lured back time and time again until I got completely free of it.

    I think sugar addiction and alcoholism are closely related so I count myself as lucky it was one and not the other. I don’t touch either now and it changed my life and health in a huge way.

    Hope you manage to keep on over-riding the seductive voice of Mr. Alcohol. It can’t be easy. x

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    1. Oh I loved reading your comment so much Gilly – Addiction to sugar is the current affliction I am fighting. I have alcohol sobriety under my belt, but in true addictive style, I am a slave to chocolate in particular. Weirdly enough, I am finding the cessation of sugar FAR more difficult to deal with. The sugar symptoms you describe affect me every day and it is next on my list on my journey to wellness. I read somewhere that research has shown that sugar hits the same neurorecptors in the brain that nicotine does and the addiction is very strong. Anecdotally, I have to concur. Still, I am not giving up, and one day not only will I be sober, but sugar free and hopefully a fair few kilograms lighter too 🙂

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  4. Sarah,

    I could literally feel your emotion in this post. I myself chose never to drink alcohol largely because of stories like your’s. I just never wanted to associate myself with something that is a source of such pain for so many.

    I, like Gilly, have had my own struggles with food and sweets. I have often wondered how bad it must be for people who had similar addictive tendencies with lifestyles and substances. It does give me a glimpse at how difficult it must be, but only a glimpse.

    Blessings to you as you continue to carve out your new tomorrow and speak into others’ lives in the process.

    Shellie
    http://www.thefabjourney.com

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    1. Hi there Shellie, and thank you for your comment. Alcohol, I believe, is a far bigger, more pervasive problem than society wishes to admit. The lucky ones don’t drink to start with, but most of us aren’t that lucky. Sugar is my next nemesis tackle. As I clamp my gnashers down onto a chocolate tim tam, the fight it seems is not going in my favour. Note to self: try harder :-).

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  5. what a powerful post ! just got so involved reading this post, for a brief while I forgot where I was and what I was doing; appreciate you for sharing this post, may this be an inspiration for those who are desiring to come out of addiction. Thanks for sharing !

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