Celebrating in 3 ways. I’m chairing my first AA meeting tonight, My husband bought me a lovely pair of earrings. I shared the facebook note below with 29 of my closest friends.
The group that can see this post is eclectic. There are many I’m very close to, but it isn’t necessarily why I’m sharing with you. There are some I’m close to that I didn’t include. There are some I’m not as close to that will probably be surprised they were included. There are a few of you I was nervous about including and added and deleted a few times- Don’t let my openness here mislead you, I still have a lot of anxiety about sharing. The commonality is you are someone I trust to be respectful, compassionate, and sympathetic (even if you are unable to be empathetic). I wouldn’t dream of saying the information here is something you should consider confidential at this point, but if you do opt to share please do it in a respectful way, for a reason, and with others who will also be respectful OR you think it would benefit them in some way to be aware.
Some of you know all this information in detail and I mainly included you so you’d understand I took the step of sharing it with others. Some of you know bits and pieces but might be surprised by a detail or two. Many of you know nothing about it, or perhaps if you were observant saw my post back in late June about taking a break from drinking.
Today is a special day for me. It is my 90th day of continuous sobriety. While there are people it wouldn’t be a big deal for, it is something that wasn’t done lightly and wasn’t easy in my case.
I was truly at a point where I couldn’t control my drinking, despite multiple attempts to, for years. While it wasn’t threatening my job or having a negative financial impact, I did crash a car while intoxicated, hurt myself, had some moments of violence towards others (that were happening more frequently), hurt my relationships, and behaved in ways that were selfish, self-centered, manipulative and not consistent with my morals. It made me feel like shit about myself on a regular basis. Despite that, and putting real effort into it, I was unable to get it under control.
It is hard to accept you can’t drink like a “normal” person. I wish more than anything I could. Stopping is scary, and while there is a chance I’ll get to a point where I can go back to moderate drinking there is a very real possibility I won’t be able to. I am so sad that there are all sorts of amazing alcohols and drinks I won’t get to try. I worry about being left out of things because people assume I wouldn’t want to be a part of them if there is drinking there, or think I won’t be fun to have involved if I’m sober. I worry even if I’m physically there it will be emotionally different and I won’t bond with my friends if I’m not a part of the silly drunken fun. I worry about being judged more negatively for the choice or need to be sober than I was for the stupid stuff I did when I was drunk. I worry people will think I’m judging them and get self-conscious being themselves around me.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate that Jason has been an AMAZING support, and I have a couple other people who have been pretty limitless in their patience of listening to me ramble, because my first 30 day were pretty ugly… and I still have moments of hard. I beat myself up A TON. I had anxiety attacks. I was overwhelmed with emotional ups and downs. I had to go through tons of “firsts”- first sober party, first sober wedding, first sober holiday, first sober big heavy drinking realms event. Everyone came with its own group of anxiety and fear. There will still be more in the coming months- first sober Christmas, first sober Uncle Cecil’s, first sober New Year’s, etc. I’m learning how to be a part of things in a new way.
I have been going to meetings and at the advice of my doctor went onto a 9 month cycle of anti-depressants for my adjustment period. Both have helped a lot. I feel some level of shame and embarrassment that I need to use these tools to be successful. I wish I could just “be stronger”.
So why would I opt to celebrate my 90 days of sobriety by telling a bunch of people this? There are three reasons, first, because as I mentioned, I feel a lot of shame. It is core to who I am. I started off feeling shame about having a severely mentally ill mother. I evolved into feeling ashamed I was picked on and didn’t have friends. That shame and insecurity led me to be overly easily to influence and having a period where I used drugs, broke laws, and behaved horribly. I moved on to adult shame about my drinking and how I behaved when I drank. Shame has been at the root of almost all my negative behaviors and choices. Secrets breed shame for me. I’ve found as I share things, people usually let me know the fears of judgment and rejection are exaggerated in my mind.
Second because shame isn’t limited to me. There is a movement within it the recovery community to speak out and share stories, a belief that when people hide their recovery unless they can’t the world develops an incorrect perception of what it means to struggle with addiction. That people see the stereo types and failures vs. the many people who are successful, healthy and balanced. Every one of us who admits what we’re going through to our friends, families, and communities provides a more realistic, robust picture of what the experience is and means.
Third because they say that one of the best ways to stay sober is to help others with their sobriety, and I suspect all of you know me enough to know that is and will be especially true for me. I WANT to be an example of someone who consciously worked to be the best person I could be. In that context I consider my challenges blessings, as I get the chance to be an example of someone who has worked through and continues to work through some pretty big hard stuff. I’ll never be considered someone who is “perfect”, “without flaws”, or “mistake free”, and very little has come easily for me. I like to think that makes me more empathetic and able to help others. So the third reason I’m sharing is so if you think what I’m doing might help someone else, I want you to know I’m doing it so you can feel free to have them contact me.
I’m not going to get preachy. I totally get that there are many healthy drinkers (of whom I’m very jealous). I’m not asking for any changes in what anyone else does or feels. I’m not sharing looking for anything particular back from people. I just consider moving towards more openness a step in my recovery. Thank you for reading and being a part of it.