For much of my adult life I have known that an inner battle was being waged within me. This battle has been with the knowledge that if I let my guard down, the power of addiction could easily overtake me and allow what for most people is a casual drink here or there, into something that would slowly eat away at me and destroy all that I had.
I was raised around alcohol, it was something that was just always there and as a teenager and young adult I took more than my fair share of libations…one might even say that I was a bit of a heavy drinker myself, but for the most part I was able to keep this demon at bay and it never fully ruled my life.
Later in life, I would see alcohol as a crutch, a support system, a way to forget the pain that I was causing to myself and to those around me. Funny thing about using alcohol to self medicate…it makes the very things that you are trying to solve that much harder to forget or resolve as it creates more problems than it solves.
Then in the last several months, I really started to take a long and hard look at my relationship with alcohol. Many times it became more than a way to “lubricate conversation”, it became a partner and passenger in the relationship that I was in. Days off were spent mixing blends and cocktails, uncorking wine and cracking open a beer or three. After work was at first one, then two then at times three stiff shots of whiskey and soon enough I was not drinking for the collective enjoyment of the company…I was feeling the need to have another.
I have always known that my relationship with alcohol is a tenuous one at best but when it came time to look at my entire lifestyle with my therapist and how I deal with stress…I took a real long hard look at the life that I was living and the check that was being cashed on my behalf.
I did not like what I was seeing. I was no longer self medicating because of a bad relationship or hard times at work or even just to forget about the pain that I often times found myself in…I was drinking to be a part of something and being a part of something that in turn was not entirely of my choosing.
I will not tell a fib here and say that I have not had a drink in the past 6 weeks, because that would be false but I will say that not waking up with a headache caused by excessive amounts of wine, spirits or beer has been a welcome change. I know that this will forever be a challenge that I face and staying in control of this “habit” is something that I will forever need to be aware of.
Another welcome change is the fact that there seems to be a little extra money left in the bank each week as I no longer see the need to have a bottle or three in the fridge and on the counter.
Sobriety has had a negative impact on my life though, because I was able to step away from one of the things that bound me to what I was so sure was the love of my life…I was able to see our relationship in a different light and with the many shades of grey that I now see this life I am living in…I came to a realization that I could not continue to go down that path unless we could both change and unfortunately…only one of us was ready to make that change.
So now, just 2 days before Christmas I find myself alone, terribly conflicted and wondering if I would be feeling less turmoil in my personal life if I had just continued to mask the challenges we faced with one more glass of wine, another shot of vodka or a couple more beers after dinner. I know the answer…but it doesn’t change the fact that I miss her greatly and only wish that we truly shared the same destiny that we thought we did when I got down on bent knee 1 year ago and asked her to be my wife.
I will survive this.
I will be stronger because of this.
I will live my life not because of anyone else…but because of me.
If you are struggling with finding your way out of the bottom of a bottle, or find yourself making questionable decisions this time of year…take a moment (a sober moment) and think about what it would be like to make the same decision without a drink in your hand. If you can’t see yourself doing this…it might be time to find some help:
Cheers and Merry Christmas to everyone!