I had my last drink six years ago yesterday. What a weird feeling, weird thing to say. It feels weird. I wonder if that’s how it just…feels. Like the further you get away from feeling like you need that drink, the more foreign even saying “I don’t drink” feels. It’s not like it feels wrong to say, it is just a part of me, a habit/non-habit that I don’t really think about that much. Which seems ungrateful to say. Like I should be getting down on my alcoholic knees and praising the day I found whatever led me to that 5 seconds of clarity that said, “you are kind of done doing this.”
And I am. I do. I am grateful. There were a lot of hands that helped me through whatever was my initial fog. My initial inability to feel feelings; to name them. One in particular – my first and only sponsor, who now has 12 years. I remember when she had 6 years and I was brand new, and six years felt like…forever. I don’t take any of the help I received then for granted, even if I haven’t kept in touch with all the people who helped me. I know a common refrain is that I did not come to this decision on my own – that there was a force that guided me. That is true in my case. My god is not your god, which is also a common refrain, and I used to not feel ok saying that out loud. I don’t even like to say “god” – even now. I will say force. I will say universal power. I will say unnamed source. Whatever it is, it was the voice that said, “You don’t need this. It is just a story you tell yourself.”
There are times when I drive down a street with a bunch of bars on it – cool bars, hip places that advertise fun, old-fashioned drinks and craft cocktails. For a second, my brain will whisper, “oh shit girl that sounds nice, sipping a fancy drank in this beautiful scenery that is San Diego, feeling the cool breeze and looking at a sunset.” Except. Except except except.
That is not how I drink.
I drink Target box wine. I drink Cutty Sark scotch because that’s what’s around. You can even read posts here on this very site that will tell you exactly the ways in which I drink. I drink to not think about why life is hard.
I now don’t drink in order to make sure I think about exactly why life is hard.
What a difference six years makes. The ways – all the ways – have been opened for me. And I keep trying to live like I really believe that.
You can never know when you wake up that this will be the day you have to put your dog to sleep. Millions of paragraphs have been written about losing those that we love, but nothing will seem to resonate with you on this day. No one else can possibly understand what the pit of your stomach feels like as you make all the motions you have to make: The decision, the comforting of your friend, the doctor as she listens for the stillness of the heart. And your heart fucking drops at the same exact time. Except you’re still moving around.
You walk away and immediately duck into the first bathroom and bawl as silently (or not) as possible. You wipe your tears with the world’s roughest toilet paper and walk out into the all-too-bright February sunlight, knowing that doing the right thing sucks so much that you just want to lay down in the middle of the parking lot.
You drive on auto-pilot.
You go to your house and your friend is not there to greet you with a wag and a kiss, but all of your friend’s stuff is still there. Like he was just going to the groomer or something. You wander around the house. You pick up the toys. You gather beds. You gather treats and food to give to someone you love. And you sob. Uncontrollably. Ugly crying. Unashamed crying. You don’t know when it will stop.
This was my morning. February 4, 2016. Today marks my second year of sobriety. Today is a day that has been horrible, and yet amazing, because it has forced me to do something I could not do when I drank – I have been forced to feel. While it has absolutely been one of the most heart-wrenching days of my life, I could have never felt this over 2 years ago. I would have drowned all this out. And surprise – I wouldn’t go back to that place for all the money or happiness in the world. No one is more surprised than I am.
I would never be able to feel the absolute gratitude I have for this little dog that came into our lives 9 years ago. I had no idea how much he had given me. He comforted me through so many hard days and celebrated with me on days filled with joy. He gave me his absolute and complete devotion and love. He gave me his trust. He had a full life, and I am so thankful that we were able to give him that.
Sobriety to some may seem like a long list of “nevers” that you have to tick off. But for me, sobriety is a never-ending book full of “always.” I will always have the memory of knowing that I was there for him in his last moment. I will always have an abundant circle of friends and family around me to comfort me when I am in need. And I will always, always marvel at this magic fucking universe that gives so freely of itself, and fills up my short life with the wonder and size of the love that is within it.
For Mister William Wallace. Chase those frogs, buddy.