Four years ago last night, I was drunk for the very last time.
In the last four years, everything has changed. I quit smoking. I lost a ton of weight. I started running and hiking again. I started cooking every single day and nourishing myself properly. I got physically healthy in every way.
Steve and I also got financially healthy, finally paying off all our debt, making the move back to Texas, and achieving our lifelong dream of buying a brand new home together.
Spiritually and emotionally, I have never felt better. In sobriety, I feel a calm in my heart I thought was lost when I was drinking. My brain, once drowning in alcohol and screaming at me nonstop, has quieted. I have a great job. I have fantastic women friends. My marriage is amazing and only becomes more amazing with each passing day.
Life has never been brighter, and none of this would have been possible if I had not stopped drinking. That is an absolute certainty.
This has actually been the hardest year of maintaining my sobriety so far, if for no other reason than I got comfortable and forgot the truth of that absolute certainty. There were more than a few times I thought it might be okay to drink again. I thought maybe I was weak or ridiculous for making such a big deal of it, that maybe it wasn’t that bad. I got to that point that most alcoholics get to once or five or ten times in their sobriety where they think “I could drink again. I could moderate now. I would be okay just for a night or a weekend.”
I haven’t done it, of course. And sure, naturally, I do sometimes think I would be okay. In reality, though, I have to push my ego aside and face facts: plenty of people have thought that and none of them have been right. I am not likely to be the first. Relapse stories are sobering – literally and figuratively – and, sadly, though beneficially for me, I’ve read quite a few devastating ones this year. One more night of drunkenness isn’t near enough reward for taking that chance. I’ve been drunk, sickeningly so, thousands of times. One more time isn’t worth the risk, not by a long shot.
I’ve also realized this year, more than any other, that while removing alcohol from my life was a gigantic step forward for all aspects of my survival, it did not solve any of the deeper problems. I still carry far too much rage, irritability, restlessness, compulsion, obsessiveness, and fear. None of these things have magically vanished in sobriety, as much as I wish they had. I have much work to do if I ever want to change these things – as do we all, I suppose. I am doing my best.
And I am hopeful. Hopeful, happy, and healthy. I keep doing what I know is good and right for me, inside and out, and I live my life as fully and openheartedly as I possibly can, no longer half awake and half alive. I am winning a hard fight and beating the odds, significantly. That is deeply meaningful on its own. I am proud of that.
Happy four to me!