Living Sober

No, not Sober Living, the VH1 reality show with the has-been celebs that are trying to make a buck by going through rehab.

My life, actually.

I sipped my first alcoholic drink when I was in early high school and by the time I had graduated, my friends and I were partying every weekend. Take that lifestyle and mix it in with a college campus and it soon became more than I could handle. I drank and smoked my way through college, earning my degree and making countless mistakes along the way.

After college, I got a teaching job back in my hometown and began frequenting the local bars. By bars, I mean dives. And by dives, I mean the seediest looking places you would never want to accidentally wander into. I became “friends” with the local regulars and began spending all my time drinking and doing whatever else came my way.

I had wandered a long way off the nice little girl path I had grown up following.

And to top it all off, I was miserable.

The more miserable I felt, the more I drank. The more I drank, the worse I felt. It was a vicious, exhausting, cycle.

I actually attempted to quit numerous times. Now that I was officially an adult with a career, I could no longer chalk it up to “normal” college binge drinking gone wrong (and don’t get me started on how I feel about the level of drinking that is commonplace and considered “normal” on college campuses…it is truly frightening). I knew my drinking was not normal. Many times, fresh off a crazy weekend, I would announce I was going cold turkey on a Sunday (probably because I was still hungover from Friday) and swear off alcohol for good. But by the time that following Friday rolled around, I would be right back at it again. And those were the good times. When the drinking was confined mostly to weekends. The bad times meant I was out most weeknights as well, ending up blackout drunk almost every time, and hungover at work the following mornings or calling in sick.

I was always jealous of my friends who could go out and have a few drinks and be social. They wouldn’t have to get wasted every time they drank like I did. I would, of course, always go out with the intention of just having a couple of drinks, but inevitably would lose all judgment when the drinking began. I just could never get drunk enough.

In the summer of 2003, I had hit rock bottom. Some pretty major things happened in my life that I was not prepared to deal with. Each as a direct result of my drinking. And one in particular scared me enough that I quit drinking for good.

On July 19, 2003, I had my last drink.

Almost immediately, my life began to change.

At first things got harder. I found myself not connecting to a lot of my friends anymore. My grandfather (and first close relative) passed away a few months later and I went through a temporary depression dealing with his loss. I discovered that not drinking meant I had to face my lack of self confidence and raging insecurities head-on. No more hiding behind a buzz…and I felt completely bare.

I started praying every single night before bed…asking God for strength to continue on this journey despite how difficult it seemed. I knew that somewhere at the end of this tunnel there had to be a blinding light…there had to be. These prayer cards became a symbol of my new life and I clung to the hope that they contained. I still have them…and they remain a simple reminder of that place and time.

Prayer has never been so powerful for me. As a Catholic woman who had obviously strayed from the church, both physically and spiritually, I was clinging to hope. I knew that God had given me a second chance and I intended to take it.

I wasn’t in AA and told I had to surrender to a higher power. No one pushed me towards God. It was very “organic” as they say. It was just what I felt was right at the time.

As of this date, it has been over 7 1/2 years since my second chance began. I have lost over 85 pounds. I met an incredible man and got married. I have a beautiful gorgeous daughter.

I am happy.

I am still working on the whole self confidence thing…which is what this blog is about. Figuring out who I am. Without alcohol as a crutch. With a new body.

Randy Pausch (famous for his “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon before he died) said it best, “The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

I’ve had a couple of major brick walls that at one point were standing between me and the life I wanted to live .

I will always be a work in progress, but I can now confidently say, that I have finally broken through.

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3 responses to “Living Sober

  1. Hi There!
    I just stumbled on your blog from Lindsey’s at Health, Food and Fitness and am glad I did! Your story is so honest and it really shows how strong and determined you are to better yourself each and everyday. Although I have not had a problem with alcohol, I am trying to heal from putting my body through years of disordered eating.
    We are both battling through voices in our heads, irrational thoughts, and serious obstacles, but we are also both persevering and yes “a work in progress” but continuously improving. 🙂
    Check out my blog if you would like, http://www.amazingasset.com and I look forward to continuing to read yours!

  2. I actually found this from a pin of your daughter’s pink and orange birthday party–talk about random (:

    I am proud of you for getting sober. One day at a time…

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