I am 2 years away from my last drink.
Looking back, I’d love to tell myself then, what I know now.
The biggest lesson would be, that I wouldn't always feel the way I felt.
Getting sober was a process.
I had to go through each phase, before I reached the next.
Just because it didn't always feel pleasant, didn't mean I was doing it wrong.
It meant I was doing it right.
I can see this now, in hindsight.
Let me take you back to the beginning, when I wasn't so sure.
This might provide some comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
My first night out
I remember being just 5 days sober and going to my first party.
I didn't want to go, but we had committed, before I decided to quit drinking.
We had already bought tickets to see a show, and I felt like I couldn't back out.
We had a pre party to attend before going to see a band at a bar.
We showed up to the pre party.
I brought my favorite water bottle with me.
My husband was also not drinking, in solidarity with me.
We walked in and turned down the offer for drinks.
The host made a big deal about us not drinking.
This was unusual for us, unheard of really.
What the hell was going on?
I don't blame the host, but in that moment, I wanted to crawl under a rock.
I wanted to flee and avoid this whole thing.
I wanted to get back to the safety of my bed.
I quickly found out there was one other person not drinking.
She was getting over a cold, and also drinking water.
No one was giving her a hard time about it.
I cozied up to her real fast.
When we got to the bar, I panicked.
I frantically demanded a club soda with lime...
like it was my lifeline...
because it was.
I needed something to drink.
I needed something to do with my hands.
I needed to be incognito about my new found, 5 day sobriety.
I was twitchy, nervous and full of anxiety.
I felt like the spotlight was on me, instead of the stage.
I was tempted to step outside and smoke a cigarette, just to escape.
I was ready to trade one addiction for another.
I wanted to add a bad habit just to remove myself from the situation I was in.
I was willing to do whatever I had to do, to not feel this awful discomfort.
I did not feel open and free.
I felt closed.
I did not feel loose, uninhibited or at peace.
I felt rigid.
I felt like a prude.
What I know now, is that feeling free doesn't come after 5 Days being alcohol free...
but it does come.
What I know now, is that this is exactly how you are supposed to feel in the beginning.
Like a live wire.
Out of place everywhere you go.
A raw nerve exposed.
Once the music started, I noticed that most of our party was too drunk or stoned to enjoy it.
My husband and I joined the couple that planned the event up towards the stage.
We ended up with the 4th row.
The lights and attention were literally on the stage and that took the pressure off me.
I was able to sing, dance and enjoy myself, just a little bit.
At the end of the night, I went to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
To my shock, I still looked put together.
I didn't smell like spilled beer and cigarettes.
In fact, I smelled good.
Everything about me was still in tact, from when I left the house hours earlier.
This took me by surprise.
Normally, after drinking for hours, looking in the mirror was a disgrace.
The sight of me, usually served as a warning.
Slow down, don't get too drunk.
If I was already too drunk, I had to close one eye to see straight, for this pep talk.
Sometimes the inner lecture included how to keep drinking without anyone knowing how much I was drinking.
The goal was to balance drinking to my fill, without the consequences of falling down, or pissing of my husband.
I wanted to keep drinking without consequences.
Don't we all?
Sometimes after a minute with my reflection, I would start to panic about how to find more drinks after we leave the bar?
How to avoid my husband, so I don’t have to leave the bar or stop drinking.
I was always trying to figure out how to hide, defend, cover, protect, ignore, and maybe even lie.
So you can imagine, to look in the mirror and see my bright eyes, looking as polished as I looked when I left the house, was a real change for me.
I could look myself in the eye.
I had nothing to cover up.
I felt proud of myself.
I felt accountable for my actions.
There was nothing to hide, ignore, or escape.
I meant what I said and what I did.
Making it through the party and the concert, without drinking, gave me all the encouragement that I needed to keep going.
When I got home, I was able to tuck my kids in.
I didn’t smell like a bar.
I wasn’t stumbling up the stairs, trying to go unnoticed.
I washed my face and put on my favorite pajamas.
I cuddled with my dog and opened my book.
I realized my life didn’t have to be the way it's always been.
I actually could change.
I could stop hating myself.
I could become the person I really wanted to be.
I didn’t have to even put myself in uncomfortable situations anymore,
if I didn’t want to.
This lit my path forward.
For the first time in a long time, I was in control of me, not alcohol.
It wasn't comfortable.
But in my discomfort, I was becoming reliable.
I was becoming the kind of person who doesn't break promises to herself.
I was becoming the kind of person that lives and acts in alignment with her values.
I was becoming the kind of person who is accountable for her own actions.
I was becoming someone who believes in herself.
After 2 years of practice, I am that person now.