Recently I shared coffee with a new friend and fellow sober mama. It was so uplifting and refreshing since face-to-face connections can be hard to come by if you don’t attend AA in the area.
During our flow of conversation, I had the opportunity to share my story of how I got to this place, this life at now 692 days sober.
I realized as I started that it had been a really long time since I shared my story- out loud. After my wakeup call, the only people that knew were those involved. Then once the shame of it all quit choking me a few weeks later, I told a couple of super close friends. Then I shut my mouth about it.
A few months later, I started my own blog as a way to share my personal flow through the early days of sobriety. It was an incredible outlet, but it took me a solid ten months until I shared “The Day.”
So what is my story, you may ask? Well, in a brief-ish version, back in January of 2017 I was in single-mom-mode with our trio entering the work weekend with some sort of sickness brewing in me. My solution? Drink my way through it.
By Monday, I felt like death. Called out of work, took my kids to daycare, came home, continued to drink, napped, popped a Xanax because the anxiety of it all was suffocating me, and then picked our kids up. The next thing I know, I’m awaking to the face of our daycare provider and her daugher in our van in our garage. I had blacked out and passed out the second I put the van in park. By the grace of God, I didn’t shut the garage door, as the van was still running with all three kids buckled in the back.
It took until the next day, after yet another morning of steady drinking, for me to have my final wakeup call. Here I was stuck at home with all three kids because I couldn’t drive, partially due to a dead van battery (again, God’s work), and because I was on an uncontrollable bender.
My hangovers and withdrawals were really bad at this point in my drinking, so that was ultimately what I was trying to avoid with the all-day boozing. I knew I would not be able to care for my kids if I tried to quit drinking cold turkey, and my husband was not due back from his mission for another few days. Plus, being a military family, I had no family to call to help me out of this terrible hole I had dug for myself.
Then this feeling overcame me- I had the clearest drunk thought of my life! I was ready to sober up FOR GOOD! In the past when I had try to quit- once for 100 days and once for 8 months, I was never filled to the brim with this feeling. This feeling was different. This feeling felt like the first step towards true freedom!
With the fresh feeling riding high, I decided to walk across the street and ask my sweet neighbor for help. Together we called the police to set in motion a plan to get me to detox. Once again, I thank God because my wish came true. Somehow everything fell into place. My husband was able to catch a redeye home. My neighbor took care of the kids while the police and I made arrangements. Our daycare provider stepped up and took the kids for the night, and off I went!
After a quick stop at the hospital to get pumped full of fluids and receive a withdrawal medication, I awoke in a detox center on January 25, 2017. I quickly realized this what not what I had truly envisioned, so I checked myself out as soon as I could that day. I then was able to detox in the comfort of our home, thanks to the medication I had received.
After I had shared this story out loud at the coffee date, I felt this inner peace overcome me. I wasn’t full of shame. In fact, I felt sincerely grateful.
I wasn’t tearful. I was strong in my words.
I didn’t hesitate on the details. I was honest.
I wasn’t beating myself up, as I have made my own personal peace and received all the forgiveness I’ve needed from those who matter most.
Saying my story out loud made me realize how different my life truly is now. That girl I was, that mom who was struggling to keep her (emotional) head above water is not in our home anymore.
Because of that day, my faith has grown tenfold. My marriage is stronger, but slightly different. My relationship with my kids is honest and pure. Who I am is real and most definitely perfectly imperfect.
It’s taken a long time to get to this place of peace, but I’m there. I know this journey has no end, and there is still plenty of work to do. But sharing my story out loud shows that time really does wonders. It shows where I am at, as well as where I want to be. It shows how far I’ve come, and reminds me of who I will hopefully never ever be, again.
I know we all ride this journey at our own pace, and we all enter it at different points. But to give yourself a gut check on where you are today- I say, share your story. It could bring hope to others, as well as build a great deal of strength within you!
Alison Evans is a military wife and stay-at-home mom to three fun-loving, wild kiddos. She recently finished her second masters (like a crazy person) in Exercise Science, and is now a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She will be rolling out health and wellness services for other sober mommies in the very near future. For now, you can check out her personal blog www.FromWinetoFine.com to read her other sober ramblings. You can also follow her on IG @teetotallyfit.
One of the beliefs that held me captive in my addiction, long after I knew I had a problem, was the assumption that I could never “do life” without alcohol. Vacations, football games, festivals, girls’ nights, date nights, holidays…HOW?!
HOW in the world could I ever attend a black-tie event with Carl’s clients, a holiday party or tailgating without a drink in my hand? For years, I justified drinking excessively, restrained by the lie that it would be impossible to survive socially without it.
I didn’t, until I gained clarity in sobriety, recognize that one (just one) of the reasons I drank was to cope with my social anxiety. I was uncomfortable in my own skin, felt like an outsider, and dreaded situations that would require excessive interaction for long periods of time. Liquid courage? No. Liquid tolerance. I wasn’t insecure, just uncomfortable unless I was drinking. Then I felt funnier, smarter, more engaging.
For years, and years, and years, I was in complete denial that I wasn’t social. I thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I didn’t want to be “anti-social,” or a snob, so I forced myself to be more, going places and doing things that were terribly uncomfortable and never worth the discomfort.
But the mental obsession of needing to drink to get ready to go anywhere, wondering how soon I could get a drink once I arrived, and trying to manage my drinking so as not to get sloppy, embarrassing myself or my family, was driving me crazy.
“The anxiety that came from obsessing over drinking was becoming as bad as the anxiety I felt when I didn’t.”
I was stressing over my behavior more, questioning my condition more, fearing the potential consequences more, worrying about who was noticing more, and agonizing over decisions more. I was more irritable, more restless, and more discontent.
It wasn’t until the second day in my recovery program, when my behavior, my condition, and my situation were SIMPLIFIED into LESS that I began to heal. Simply put, I was sick. I wasn’t a failure or lazy, or a snob. I had a disease. I could not, would not, ever cure it on my own anymore than someone with cancer can will away their disease. I needed help and that too came in the easiest of explanations. All I had to do was GIVE UP.
Not I. Not Me.
When I was in charge of my life, I over complicated things. My own thinking was destructive, hopeless. I put so much pressure on myself to do more, to be more that I drank more. I didn’t like who I was because I thought I was supposed to be someone else. I never felt like enough. And I was doing the same things over and over, expecting a different result. Insanity. Something had to change. I had to get out of my own way and ask God for help. I had to give up managing my life, especially my drinking. I didn’t need to control it, or try harder to change me, or worry about all the “what ifs, when…”
I just needed to focus on not taking the first drink, right now, today. And in the moments when it felt impossible or I was overwhelmed with temptation, I had to ask God to take away that craving. If I use whatever means necessary to avoid the FIRST DRINK, TODAY, I won’t drink the second, or seventh. I can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
In the beginning, I was careful in choosing which social situations to attend. I knew these environments were triggers. I didn’t attend things that were centered around drinking. We traveled a couple of times that first month, short weekend trips with family, but I attended meetings and stayed in constant contact with my sponsor.
Slowly, over time, I was able to venture out, to visit a few more places. And by then, I had started to get stronger, more confident. I’d gone many “one” days without a drink, so my obsession, my temptation was weakening. I was still careful, reading from my big book, praying, and talking to my sponsor. I always had a predetermined “exit” plan should I need to leave due to unhealthy cravings. And more than anything, I gave myself grace. I didn’t feel so much pressure to go everywhere, all the time, with all the people, doing all the things. If I was feeling good, I’d go. If I felt weak, I’d avoid it and work on my recovery.
Today, after years of making choices about what I can handle and where I can go, I don’t feel left out, bitter or resentful. I don’t feel sorry for myself.
“The peace that has come in sobriety is immeasurably more than any of the temporary relief I got from drinking.”
Sure, I’ve had meltdowns, crying, scared and confused (see The First Thanksgiving), but the need to drink to cope has faded.
People ask how I do it, if I tell servers that I “can’t” drink, if I pretend that I’m pregnant, or if I just accept being miserable. The answer is no. I don’t go if I think I’ll be uncomfortable, and I tell everyone close to me which allows for a safer, more inclusive experience. I practice what I’ve been taught. I stay connected to others in sobriety, serve those who are still sick, and ask God to keep me humble. I can honestly say that at this moment, I have been relieved of my desire to drink and empowered by God’s grace to live as I am. I know I have a progressive disease, always lying in wait and if I get too confident, compliant or think I’m “cured,” I’ll relapse into a much worse state. So I’m still careful, vigilant about my comfort zone.
I no longer overthink things, I don’t worry about being more or doing more. Giving it all over to God has transferred the burden so there’s no more pressure. I’m just me, thanking Him for saving me so far and asking for the strength to not take the first drink, today. Surprisingly, my life is more fun because my mood is no longer situational, dependent on when and where I can drink. Instead, I lean into the simplicity of my recovery, following the lead of others and depending on God for strength. I’m healthier and happier. I can go places, do things and have a great time, free from mental obsession and full with self confidence.
Authors - Various