One of the greatest gifts sobriety has taught me is the concept of choice.
Sobriety has been my chosen lifestyle since June 14, 2001, and it has made all the difference. It is freedom from a self-sabotaging way of life.
Alcohol’s presence was predominant in my family growing up – sophisticated, except for an aunt. My mother was my first drinking buddy in my mid-teens, and I felt so privileged. My parents had the good stuff, from wine to brandy and everything in between. The attitude in my home was “eat, drink and be merry.”
It wasn’t until that first double gin & tonic at 21 that I truly crossed over into what would become a downward spiral lasting 17 years. I thought I had found the magic elixir, and wanted more.
In my mind, I wasn’t anything enough, pretty, smart or cool, and I naively believed alcohol gave me those qualities. All my decisions in life centered around alcohol and prevented potential productive decisions. My addiction hampered the quality of my life in every department.
I thought what I was doing was normal, until I learned that it wasn’t.
Alcohol was my identity, my best friend, my comfort and my go-to. I believed its lies and fell victim to the illusions. Oh, there were questions in the back of my mind at times, once stopping for three weeks, then deciding I didn’t have a problem. I hadn’t really lost anything. I still worked and did what I needed to do in everyday life. Alcoholic rationalization. I was a daily drinker and it was basically a 24/7 occupation; thinking, planning, drinking and hangovers.
Alcoholism chose my first two marriages, with my first husband as my second-best drinking buddy for 14 years. As long as I had liquid spirits and romantic satisfaction, I was all set. What else could there be? I had no idea how much I was really missing out on.
When I started questioning if I wanted to continue in that marriage, I sought a therapist. I walked out the door rather perplexed, without an answer and headed to a 12-step program. The therapist had me pegged after hearing my relationship with alcohol.
I ultimately left that husband after six months of sobriety. Everything looked different through sober eyes, and knew if I stayed I would drink again. Shortly thereafter, met my second husband, who was 19 years sober. It looked good, felt good, so it must be good. We divorced after five years because he wasn’t able to honor marital commitments. I hadn’t heeded the advice of my sponsor to stay out of a relationship before a year’s sobriety. I had a lot of growing up to do.
Through the years with the program and therapy, the process of peeling back the layers unfolded. I grew healthier and learned to make better decisions. I still made some twisted choices, but it takes time. We all have our respective journeys.
I learned that the concept of choices applies to all areas of life.
The 12-step program gave me a good foundation and friendships still active in my life. It may not be for everyone, but there are many resources out there.
I now have a healthy marriage to a man who doesn’t care for the taste of alcohol nor the feeling – foreign concepts to me. The desire to drink left me early on, by the grace of God (my higher power). I don’t like being around anyone under the influence. I keep my distance as much as possible from these situations. The smell nauseates me, and it’s not my world anymore.
I am grateful for another chance at life and the freedom sobriety gives me. I won’t minimize: Sobriety requires commitment, and it takes a lot of effort. It is not for the faint-hearted. It isn’t always easy looking within and acknowledging the unpleasant parts. To progress though, it is necessary. We are ever evolving. The trade-off compared to my old life is invaluable and so precious.
Each day I awaken, I realize there is a world of possibilities out there. I thank God for the blessings in my life. I know addiction/recovery is a matter of life and death. I’ve seen many people struggle, some ultimately losing their lives to addiction. I could have been one of those statistics.
Sobriety is the gift that keeps on giving.