I blog about recovering my way to increase awareness that there’s no one right way to approach sobriety. People have varied reasons for drinking and for quitting, and there’s usually a lot more trouble brewing underneath the surface than simply the booze itself. Mental health and alcoholism seem to go hand-in-hand, so I blog about both. I am the only one who knows what’s best for me, and in many cases, it isn’t the norm.
Growing up in an alcoholic family was fun. They all made drinking look like a natural, essential part of life.
- My family’s a little redneck – been camping and boozing for decades. My trashed, heat-packing uncles would lead us on long, dangerous ATV trips in the woods, blazing trails with their chain saws. Aside from a few minor injuries, we all came back in one piece. It never occurred to me that guns and booze weren’t a good combo, even when my token “idiot” uncle accidentally shot his rifle through the floor of his trailer. The nights always ended next to a rip-roaring fire with country music blaring, while everyone partied it up with beer, tequila, Grandpa’s homemade “apple pie,” and Everclear-soaked cherries. I didn’t know half of what was going on back then. I wouldn’t change these experiences, but this shows how my environment was saturated with drunks.
- While driving around with my alcoholic dad in my early elementary years, he would regularly stop behind the local Bargain Beverage store to take a piss after he’d purchased his next round of Budweiser 40 ouncers. You gotta pee, you gotta pee. I never thought twice about it.
- At the Rodeo every summer, the kids would sit just outside of the beer garden while the adults got hammered and disorderly inside. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to hang out with them. It was like a coming-of-age thing. I hated feeling left out.
- Christmas was always full of loud voices and commotion everywhere – a drunken, rowdy event that created a glowing illusion of togetherness for me.
- Booze was everywhere. It was the focal point for every event and every non-event.
I didn’t stand a chance. Surprisingly, I was a late bloomer and didn’t have my first real drink until I was 17. By the time I was 19, I realized that at some point I would have to completely stop drinking. I then decided that I’d better make the most of it and not waste any time. And so, my drinking career began and lasted for about 10 more years.
My turning point came in the form of an ultimatum.
Most people were surprised when I quit drinking. On the outside, I was just a hot-tempered party girl, looking for my next good time. I prided myself on my ability to keep up with the boys and carry on my family tradition. From my first drink, I was enamored with alcohol. It gave me the confidence and social skills that I was lacking, and it eased my anxiety.
For a long time, the only consequences I experienced were hangovers and regret – both of which I had a solution for – drinking more! In my early twenties I started drinking alone, a warning sign I’d always been aware of, but was able to justify with, well…denial. My problem progressed when I experienced regular blackouts and secretly needed daytime maintenance.
Then, I began to verbally abuse my then boyfriend (now husband). I felt guilty, confused, and exhausted after every incident that I couldn’t seem to recall. One morning, I got an out-of-town phone call from him saying, “If you have one more drink, we are over”. Apparently, our long-distance conversation the night before had been ugly. I was embarrassed and scared, but also relieved to have the ultimatum. It was the only solution to my misery – finally, I had my reason to stop.
The first 4 years, or so, of my recovery involved little to no support. I didn’t know anyone else who was sober, and a handful of meetings quickly revealed that 12-stepping wasn’t the right path for me. Online support has made my journey complete.
Sober date: November 8, 2006
I am here for you! I love receiving comments and feedback. Connecting and relating with others makes me feel supported, helpful, and alive. Awareness is key to breaking down the stigma and for opening doors for those who are still suffering. Please contact me if you need support: email@example.com or check out my Resources page.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC): http://www.sprc.org/