When I first quit drinking 8 years ago, it wasn’t by choice. I was an alcoholic who knew deep down I could never drink again but I refused to accept it. I did not want to be done for good and therefore, wanted to protect my right to drink by not being honest about how bad my drinking really had gotten. I remember another sober woman telling me early on that the reason I was refusing to admit my alcoholism to anyone else was because once I did, it closed the door on ever drinking with whoever I told the truth to. And she was right.
I wasn’t even a month sober when I found out I was pregnant. By the grace of God, I was finally going to become a mom and now had a perfect excuse to not drink. Staying sober was easy and hiding my alcoholism even easier.
In early recovery, social gatherings were my main trigger. After my daughter was born, I had breastfeeding as an excuse but now, staying sober wasn’t as easy. I’ll never forget a business dinner my husband I attended. We toured our host’s wine cellar and then went to dinner where the wine never stopped. I was “white knuckling it” the entire time. Upon departing for the evening, the host insisted we return after I was done breastfeeding so I could enjoy their collection. It took everything in me not to cry right then and there – so I waited until we got in the car and let the tears flow immediately.
Self-pity was my favorite.
Fast forward 7 years later and I no longer fight the anxiety of being the only one not drinking and being asked why. But I do still fight the triggers on the rare occasion and it’s usually because I am restless, irritable or discontent. Last weekend we attended a lunch at a winery. I had been to wineries in the past – sober and pregnant. But I had never been wine tasting at a winery and I always wished I had. Isn’t that funny? But I digress.
Tensions ran high with my daughter as we prepared to leave for this lunch and on the way there, I decided: I’m gonna drink today. That thought was immediately followed by “no you’re not” and then from there I proceeded to judge myself for even considering such a terrible idea at almost 8 years sober from alcohol.
The longer we were there, the less I wanted to drink but the more annoyed that I was still somewhere I no longer wanted to be. The person next to me was drinking and when he was asked by the server if he wanted water, he responded with “I’m allergic.” I laughed out loud and he looked at me with a dead pan face.
“Wait, really? You’re allergic to water? How is that?” I said.
He proceeded to explain to me that water tastes like shit and he refuses to drink it.
5 minutes later, my impatience for our food to arrive took over and he turns to me and says,
“Just chill, have a drink.”
I look at him and say “yeah, no, I’m allergic.”
I get the same dead pan expression staring back at me and then he says “really?”
“Yep, when I drink, I break out in poor judgement, make bad decisions and end up in handcuffs.”
I can’t tell you what his response was. Did he laugh? Probably and that was my intent. But more importantly, two things happened after that: One, I planted a seed. And two, any remaining ounce of desire to drink was immediately removed.
That is my intent for living my recovery out loud and proud. By sharing my truth and being honest, I’m planting seeds in the minds of other potential alcoholics and by doing so, I’m protecting my need to stay sober.