One Year Later...A Sobering Milestone
Amy Jo Smith: Mon, May 7th 2012
I remember it clearly…how the decision to get sober came to be. It was Mother's Day, 2011 and I got so drunk that I ended up saying some more than horrible things to my Mother. I had chosen to go out instead of spend time with my Mom. I rationalized, "Well, I'm a Mom too; it's also my day." At the time, both of my children lived in another state. If you are guessing that I was severely bummed out because my own children weren't with me, you'd be guessing correctly. There was also a lot going on with me, personally, aside from the fact that I was at a self destructive addictive peak during that time. I said things I can never take back to my mother on that night. The whole night ended up a HUGE disaster as a result of my intoxication. As you might imagine, I felt horrendously guilty the next morning. And that was it. That was the moment I decided I HAD to get sober. If you also guessed that you're not getting the whole story here, you'd again be guessing correctly…but it is actually irrelevant. I gave up drinking that morning. Here we are, one year later (on May 9th) and I am still sober.
It's been quite a journey. I think back to that time and say, "Wow…I was REALLY bad. I was a pretty nasty person." I remember feeling so much self-hatred for who I had become. I am ashamed to admit it, but I was one mean drunk…that is when I wasn't crying my eyes out. The worst part though? The blackouts I experienced every single time I got drunk. Very frightening. My alcoholic and addictive behaviors cost me more than I can possibly express. The most painful was losing the respect of those who love me.
This article, however, is about being sober-a year later. I confess; I did not think I would make it to this point. I did not think I would be sitting here, a year later, writing and telling anyone about addiction in its various forms. I definitely did not think I would be able to give advice on sobriety. Never did I imagine my former friends (or anyone, for that matter) asking me how I did it. Me…giving advice on staying sober-it was a thought that never would have entered my mind. Here we are, though, together reading about my sobering milestone.
I wish that I could tell you it's been easy, but I cannot. I CAN tell you that it's gotten easier. I wish I could tell you that I don't crave a drink from time to time, but I would be a liar. The truth is, even after this amount of time, it is still something I have to stay aware of. I remember in the beginning I told people I had to take it moment by moment-forget that 'day by day' stuff you hear about; it was literally moment by moment for me. I also cannot tell you that I have the whole 'high on life' that many people who get sober express. No, life is still hard, my coping skills are still low and I still have to same reasons in my brain that led me to drink to begin with.
That being said, the rewards HAVE made it all truly worth being sober. I got the respect back of many who love me. I also lost some people who claimed they loved me along the way. Funny how that happens-you lose by doing the right thing, sometimes. Naturally, there's a lesson there-those who I lost were not my friends or loved ones to begin with. I learned to take chances on my writing and other skills I had long-since silenced while drunk. I have gained my sense of self respect back. Also, I have regained more of my confidence, which was completely shot by the time I was done drinking and acting the fool. Those who truly love and support me are still here; some even came back. The thing about getting sober is that in the beginning, you have to accept responsibility for how much damage you caused to others. You do not get to expect to instantly regain trust; you have to earn trust back. For the most part, I have. Hey, let's face it-nothing is perfect and a year seems like a HUGE milestone (and it is) but in the huge scheme of life, a year is not much.
One year on May 9th. It brings a smile to my face; to the face of my mom. I'm not where I want to be yet, in terms of life, but I am glad I am not where I used to be. I can share with you that it IS worth it to get sober, that it does get better and that you can succeed if you decide to. Yes, decide to-because in the end, that's what it comes down to; you have to choose to not pick up that drink. You have to remind yourself constantly of the reasons why you quit. Clearly, if you quit or are trying to, there's a reason. Usually its reasons like my own-things just got so bad that it wasn't worth it any longer; the negative consequences were/are not worth your life.
My wish these days is to keep life simple, to admit to myself (and others) how much I can handle and how much I cannot. I want to help others either get, or stay sober, but I also know that if he or she cannot or will not, then I cannot be in that person's life…my sobriety means everything to me and I will not sacrifice it for anyone. I value what I have now; where I'm at now and what I am accomplishing. A year later it is still like starting your whole life over and re-learning how to cope and actually live…but I'm learning and it is worth it.
I encourage you to visit my blog Serious Social Issues to vent if you ever need to…ask for help, give advice to help others. I'm living proof that things get better with time and patience.
Introduction to Alcohol and Substance Abuse - Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.
Top 7 Best Alcoholics Anonymous Alternatives List - Kathryn Patricelli, MA
Staying Sober: Dealing With Temptations - Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
Do or Die: Confronting Potential Relapse - Amy Jo Smith