A Sober Life

On July 31, 2009 I awoke with the same promise that I’d made hundreds of times before.  “I am NEVER drinking again.”

It was a promise I’d made and broken so often, that even I didn’t believe me when I said it.  But something was different this time.  I’m not sure what, I can’t put my finger on it.   I only did one thing different.  I told people.  I opened up to a core group of girlfriends online… and I put in writing what I’d only ever said to myself before.

if not you who

I admitted I had a drinking problem.  Or should I say, I had a quitting problem.  Many of them suggested that I get into a program – like AA.  At that point in my life I was ascared to death of everything – and the thought of being in a room full of strangers gave me such a sick feeling… add in to that a husband of 31 years that did not like sharing me with the outside world.

(but that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother day)

So I started counting my sober days.  And for the first time in my life, I lasted longer than 3 days without a drink.  Did I want a drink? Oh heck yes.  But that unknown ‘something’ stopped me.  I wrote a post on this private message board every day.  I kept track of the day count, and how I felt that day.  My cheerleaders never failed me.

find your tribe

I was shocked when a week passed, then two… but by the third week, the novelty of being sober wore off.  I started having severe cravings.  The worst part was the drooling.  I would drool uncontrollably – to the point where it would pour out of my mouth.  My brain wanted alcohol.  My brain wanted to be numbed.  I had no tools to know what to do.

As much as I wanted alcohol, my incredibly low self esteem couldn’t handle telling my friends that I’d failed, so I didn’t take that drink.  I was ascared they would be disappointed in me – and that punishment (completely made up in my own head) was a deterrent to opening that bottle of wine.

I spent a miserable 11 months as a dry drunk.  An alcoholic can’t stop drinking on their own.  They need help.  I was insane, I was craving, I could only focus on alcohol and not drinking it.

Today I remembered that I can do hard things

My ex-husband (yes, that says EX) was not a huge support, he kept wondering when I would be able to start again – he actually liked to have a glass of wine with me at dinner, or have some beers on the deck… and every so often as he poured a glass of wine for himself, he would offer me one.

At the 11 month mark, I knew I wouldn’t make a year.  I knew this like I knew my eye color.

In June of 2010, a few months after discovering Brave Girls Club, I decided to do something incredibly brave.  (brave for ME, someone else maybe not) I attended a small high school reunion at a local pub.  There were 12 people there, and I was friendly with only one person going.  All the rest were the COOL kids, (trust me when I tell you I was never a COOL kid).

I ordered a soda.  I didn’t want to drink.  I knew I was in trouble by this point, and had trouble concentrating on anything else except what the people around me were drinking.  One of the cutest boys in high school, Kenny, came over to say hello.  We’d had one disastrous date in high school 35 years earlier, and he didn’t remember me at all.  But he saw my soda.  And I saw his soda.  He asked about it, and I admitted I was trying to quit drinking.  He shared that he’d quit 3 years earlier with the help of AA, and he urged me to give it a try.

you are strong enough

I lied to him and told him I wasn’t good in crowds.  But the real reason was the knowledge that my husband at the time wouldn’t approve, and would make my life miserable if I went.

Kenny didn’t take no for an answer.  (I joked later on that if he’d paid that much attention to me on our date, it might not have been so disastrous)  He contacted me on facebook, and started a few days of constant pushing to get to a meeting.  One morning he called me – said he’d spoken to his sponsor and his advice was to go to a meeting without telling my husband.

brave choices make brave women

Since I have Fridays off, this was feasible, and I found a meeting nearby.

I walked into that room on July 2nd, 2010.  I’ve never looked back.  I have embraced the fellowship of AA, and a sober life living a 12 Step Program.

AA, and my higher power, have given me a new life – an authentic life.  A brave life.

I just celebrated 4 years of sobriety, and my life is completely different than the one prior to putting down that last drink.  I am blessed with wonderful friends, a huge support group, a level of spirituality that one can only dream about achieving, a feeling of serenity and being grateful for every moment given to me.

I got my first tattoos at the age of 56.  On my left foot are the words Serenity, Courage, Wisdom… and on my right foot are the words To Thine Own Self Be True.  A constant reminder of what is important in my life, and that my feet are always exactly where they are supposed to be.

So, do you ever look in the mirror and wonder if you have a problem with addiction…? Alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, gambling… if you’re wondering, then chances are you probably do.  Don’t be frightened.  I am living proof that you can turn your life around.  I often wish I had found AA sooner, in my younger years, but we are taught that everything has to happen in it’s own time.  I can’t regret my past, I need to learn from it.     The perfect person to help me stay sober  was placed in my path at a time I knew I was going to fail on my own.

There is no shame in starting over

Am I your perfect person?  If you’re reading this story now, and something in your heart is telling you to listen to me, then please… pick up the phone, go on your computer, find the closest AA meeting.  And go.   They will embrace you.  They will love you until you can love yourself… and believe it or not, you WILL love yourself.

Comments

  1. Thank you.♥

    • lori says:

      Thank you for your candor….I feel much inspired knowing that it really is possible to be free even after age 50+…mazel tov and warmest regards.

  2. kelli paddock says:

    You are so Brave! Bravo!

  3. Emily Retter says:

    Sandi, I was not around for the drinking part of it, but I see you now, and you are a wonderful, loving, giving woman. I’m so glad you escaped the addiction of alcohol…look at you now, Brave Girl! I’d never known your whole story, and thank you for publishing it! Love you, girl!

  4. Jennifer says:

    What an awesome story. I can relate to how it feels to have an addiction. My addiction was to pain killers and I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that something like an addiction could happen to me. I had it all together or so I thought and I had all my friends and family fooled to. My turning and wake up point came at a time when I lost my job, foreclosed on a house, my husband filed for divorce, my car was repossessed and I found myself with two felonies that would not permit me to having a job that I was use to having. The only thing I had left to lose were my two little girls and thank God, I was not willing to let that happen. I woke up one morning and knew I had to change. It is funny because I use to play the blame game and I could not understand why something like this could happen to me. My addiction started after my second daughter was born. I was in a very un-healthy marriage to a man who drank way to much and who had been lying to me since the day we met about using drugs which I was very against. I had myself believing that I was just what he needed and that I would be the person who could change him for the better. The problem was he didn’t want to change and there was nothing I could do or say to make him. I got tired of always fighting with him over the same thing and one day I just gave up and decided to join him. I did not have any medical reasons to be taking pain medication but when I did take them I would forget about all the bad things that were happening to me. It was my escape. I could even get along with husband because we now had something in common. I really had to fall hard on my feet to wake up but I woke up and I have been sober for over five years. I really believe that God puts things in our paths for a reason. I also believe he challenges us. I had a previous job where the majority of the people around me were taking narcotics and they were in complete denial about what they were doing to themselves. When you are an addict it can be a struggle to have will power and make the right decisions. There were so many times that I thought it would be a lot easier if I join these co-workers instead of always having to fight against the urges. At the time I couldn’t figure out why God had put me in a situation where I had to really work hard to stay sober. I would pray to him and say that it is like putting an alcoholic in a bar and I didn’t understand how this was healthy for me. I had to work and with my criminal back ground how would I ever find another job? I am proud to say I never gave in to those urges and I know that I can fight and win every time and not give in to temptation. I am an addict but one who will fight addictions and come out stronger because of it. I know now why this happened to me and I know now that God was testing me. I recently had my criminal record sealed and I started a new job that is very rewarding. I work for wonderful and caring people and I am so grateful to God that he has given me this opportunity to start over. I have been given a second chance and I am taking it and running with it and never looking back. I have learned so much about myself and I just really want to say that if there is someone who is struggling with addiction you are not alone. You can beat it! You deserve to beat it! You have to fight but you can do it because you are worth it!

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