Today is my birthday. Not my belly button birthday, my day I got clean and sober birthday. Today I am celebrating 33 years of sobriety. Celebrating 33 years of choosing to deal with life and all its challenges, obstacles, defeats, and victories without using drugs or alcohol. The last few years have been challenging, but this past year I managed to quiet some of the demons, the depression, and even deal with the struggles with less angst.
I don't remember when alcohol wasn't available to me. My older brothers-14, 18, and 21 years older than me- were the kind of guys that thought it was cute to give a baby or toddler a sip of beer, or whatever cocktail they might be drinking. There was always a bottle of whiskey in the kitchen cupboard, and when my dad wanted a glass of wine in the evening, he sent one of us to get it.Alone in the kitchen, no one was there to see me take a swig for myself. If there were family gatherings, not much attention was paid attention to what you were grabbing out of the cooler. After all, the men usually sent a kid to get the beer out of the cooler. So I developed an enjoyment of the taste and effect of alcohol at a very young age. It was an easy way to make life stop hurting for a little while.
Of course,as soon as I left home it was no problem. I looked older than my age, and was never carded. Really, the first time I was carded was on my 21st birthday. There was a new guy at my liquor store, and he carded me and wished me a Happy 21st birthday. The owner was shocked, since he had been selling me alcohol for 4 years. But, he didn't make a big deal about it. I was a very good customer. By the time I was 21, I was drinking every day. I had started down that road as a teenager with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I was self medicating with drugs and alcohol for several years. When I was diagnosed, I started letting go of the drugs, but consumed more alcohol to make up for it.
I drank my way through college, and 5 years into my working life. I managed to get good grades, and do good work while I increased my drinking. I had good jobs, but my drinking caused me to make some really, really stupid decisions about men and relationships.Just like the song says "Looking for love in all the wrong places."
I knew that eventually I would have to quit drinking. I knew that it was impossible for me to drink in moderation, and I hated that, because there were things I truly enjoyed and did not want to give up.I truly enjoyed choosing the right wine for a good meal. I truly enjoyed a cold beer on a hot afternoon.But, as much as I wish I was, I am not the kind of person who can stop with one glass of wine, one cold beer, one mixed drink. So, I had to listen to the small voice and quit. The last time I got drunk was on a Sunday night. I had been to a party. I don't remember much about the party, I had been drinking all weekend of course, but for some reason I got really drunk at that party. I think that I totally embarrassed myself, and a friend suggested we leave and go somewhere else. We ended up at her Mother's house. I don't remember how we got there, but I do remember sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and talking to her mother until 5 o'clock Monday morning. I drove home and got in the shower and then I decided to call in sick and get some sleep. I had never done that before, I always went to work. In fact, I got in the shower intending to get ready for work, but while I was in that shower I started getting quiet, and when I get quiet I can hear the small voice, and the voice said "It's time to heal."
So, I called in sick, went to bed and slept for a couple of hours. When I woke up I felt like crap.I never got hungover, but that day I was hungover. I spent some time feeling sorry for myself, but then I remembered hearing the voice. I knew that it was time to stop numbing the pain, time to stop dulling the memories and to start healing the wounds. I called my doctor, and went to see her. I had a good talk with her and she referred me to a therapist. She called him right then, and he saw me that afternoon.It was Monday, January 19, 1981. The therapist said that he would work with me, but he also suggested that I go to AA. He got out the phone book, and handed me the phone. I made the call and found a meeting that evening. That was the beginning of my journey to health and wholeness, a journey I am still on. It is not an easy journey to start. It is not an easy journey to continue, but it is a journey I believe we must all undertake.
So, here I am. I haven't had a drink, oh how I have wanted to, but I have not had a drink.My Higher Power and I are taking a journey. One day at a time.
Peace and Blessings,