So many people struggle with trying to stop drinking.
I was one of them.
It took me several years to first come to the acceptance I had to stop, and then trying to stop.
This was not easy.
Below is my story.
I am sharing it in hopes it might help someone today.
I have been sober since September 4, 2014.
I never thought I would grow up and develop a drinking problem.
I was an average Midwest girl who loved riding her bike, hanging out with friends, and reading. I didn’t start to drink early in life. In fact, I didn’t drink until I was 20. But when I did drink, it was a lot. I was a binge drinker from the very start.
There were alcoholics in the family, but I didn’t know that at the time. My mother’s sisters, my father, and my grandfather, all had drinking problems.
I didn’t have an easy life health wise. I suspect that some of my problems with drinking were a result of not knowing or learning how to cope with these issues. I developed depression and anxiety.
I graduated with a teaching degree, married, moved, and found a teaching job in Minnesota. I did not take life easily, and life didn’t make things easy either. I was very sensitive. I have a hearing loss and my speech is different because of the loss. I also have almost no vision in one of my eyes, and it turns inwards. Children made fun of me, and so did adults, asking, “Where did you come from?”
I wasn’t able to have children.
I had no idea how to cope with the painful realities of life. My drinking increased ever so slowly; with me having no idea it was happening. I loved a good time, but felt ever so much better and funnier when I drank. I would always be out for happy hours.I loved talking to friends over a beer, and later wine.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 50’s that my drinking increased by bottles of wine. It seemed it happened overnight. I was staying out later and later at bars. I did my lesson plans while drinking wine in bars. Or martinis. I often drove drunk. I would drink too much at parties and throw up on the way home. My husband and I were fighting over how much I was drinking.
I would run away to hotels after these fights. Still drunk, I would buy more wine there.
Things were deteriorating quickly. Teaching was getting harder, and I didn’t know how to cope with the demands. I took life seriously, and when I couldn’t get every child reading on grade level I would get angry with myself. I really did not like myself much. In fact, I hated my eye, my hearing loss, and my weight. Drinking was the only way out for me. I desperately wanted to escape.
School was out for the summer, and I started drinking at noon with friends and drank all day. I passed out at a friend’s house while in the bathroom. She had to call the paramedics, who showed up with the police. They knew me, because I worked in that city. I was humiliated. My husband had to take me to the hospital because he was unable to control me.
I decided to go into treatment for 30 days. I went into an outpatient treatment center for four hours a day. I tried AA. By the next summer, I was drinking again.
It would take about 4 more years and more humiliation for me to face the fact that this was not working. When I drank I would wake up sweating, with horrible thirst. I would binge eat. I had bowel problems and sometimes couldn’t make it to the toilet in time. I was blacking out and hiding bottles.
I retired from teaching as soon as I could, but felt lost. Now I could drink all day. Alone. The bartenders were my friends. The liquor store clerks were my friends.
One afternoon I was going to meet a friend for lunch, and later a massage scheduled at my yoga studio. I had an extra hour, so I went to a bar to drink. At lunch, I had more wine. Then I went shopping, and by now I was slurry, and stopped at my favorite bar for more.
The next thing I remembered is when I showed up at my yoga studio and I had no idea how I had gotten there. I was crying about being drunk and my yoga teachers tried to help me. They called my husband to drive me home.
Later I learned, after looking at my checkbook, that I had stopped at another bar. I have no memories about this. I had to stop.
But I knew I needed more help if I was going to be able to so this. I also know trying to quit by myself would not work for me.
It was too easy to lie to myself.
I reached out to as many people as I could:
I started Belle’s 100 Day Sober Challenge.
A yoga teacher connected me to a wonderful AA sponsor.
I went to AA meetings.
I went to Women For Sobriety meetings.
I started a blog.
I got a life coach and a therapist.
I told all of my family and friends that I was trying to get sober.
I had to keep myself in the light, because I knew there was darkness in my soul that would try to destroy me.
In everything I do, and with everyone I meet, I am open to learning. I am learning about self-compassion. I am learning how to take care of myself, and love the parts of me I deem unlovable. I am learning that yes, life and people can be cruel, but they are also a source of beauty. I am learning just how strong I am. I am learning to be ever so thankful for all that I have.
My story is a story of love. It is a story of being human.
Without the love of all the people around me, who never give up, who encourage me, who support me, I wouldn’t be writing this.
With Much Love,