Some say it crept up on them unexpectedly, in a subtle and sneaky way. They went on for years having a ball and then steadily started to feel bound to the feeling of euphoria it offered up glass by glass. As it continued to entice, their involvement steadily moved from the light and lively honeymoon phase into a dark, dysfunctional partnership, leaving them exhausted and confused.
I was 30 years old and sitting alone in my studio apartment when I began my relationship with alcohol in earnest. I had just brought home my first bottle of wine. Mine to drink, all by myself. It felt strange and mischievous at first. I never drank alone.
It started out as a few times a week but soon I began to drink nightly. I felt a sense of warmth and companionship at first but my secret habit started to turn on me and by the time I realized it was happening, I was in deep.
It’s funny because as it progressed, I knew in my heart that I had a different relationship with alcohol. I would go out to parties and notice myself staying close to the bar. When out to dinner with friends, I would watch to see exactly how much wine the server poured in my glass compared to others and feel slighted if I received less. I became obsessed with having it by my side. There to provide me with a false sense of security.
I carried on this routine for 8 years. Drinking every night. It is sad when I look back now in recovery and think of how truly sick I was. I would wake up feeling ill and guilty every single day. As the illness progressed, I became angry and took on a personality I knew wasn’t the true me.
I have no idea what made this day different, but I woke up with my head spinning and stomach churning and a feeling of dread came over me. A voice inside me simply said, “if you don’t stop now, you are going to kill yourself." No thunderbolt, no rock bottom, just a voice inside me that knew better. I knew in that moment, it was time to reach out for help.
I think what is most difficult to accept is when a seemingly harmless habit bleeds into addiction. I never missed a day of work due to a hangover. I felt I was keeping up my end of the bargain and making my contribution. I realize now, I was on auto pilot most of the time, just getting by. It’s a fine line for sure. Although I was in denial, I knew deep down I had an issue all along.
Most of the time I drank in the privacy of my own home, but as you know, my substance of choice is socially accepted as an element of fun and connection. This made the idea of quitting even that much more complicated for me. I had to get over the fear of feeling like an anti-social party pooper along with dropping my vice. It felt overwhelming at times.
Now that I am sober, I was amazed at how many questions are asked and eyebrows are raised when I decline a cocktail. Telling people I am in recovery is a tough one for me and I still gauge my audience before sharing.
I am no longer fearful of their reaction and it gets easier with every day. However, to me, it feels so much more than a light topic of conversation. Committing to recovery is the most critical, life changing and personal decisions I have ever had to make and it has without a doubt, saved my life.
Regardless of the circumstances, getting out from under addiction is a liberating and amazing thing. It is hard work, but so worth it.
As my sister who has been sober for over 20 years said to me right after I quit “This is when the good stuff starts.”
I cannot describe to you how much that statement rings true to me today.
The good stuff has started and it just keeps getting better.
If you are interested in learning more about my recovery coaching please go to www.noellevan.com.