I recently found this piece while perusing through some files on my computer. It’s from November 2015 and is born of a relapse I had after my first, and longest, attempt at giving up booze and cigarettes. Suffice it to say, I was devastated and furious with myself. This is also before I was diagnosed with anxiety, so it is interesting to hear myself describe my mental state without fully understanding what was underneath.
I wish I could say that things got better after I wrote this. I wish I could say that everything I professed I would do in the last paragraph actually happened and it was the start of a path back towards health and recovery. In truth, this relapse was the beginning of a hellish year in which I slid further into alcohol abuse. My anxiety reached a fevered pitch during this time, and I was convinced I had either heart problems or very serious respiratory problems. Thankfully, it was neither, but my mental, emotional, and spiritual state took a beating.
I would not be able to get back on track until June of 2016 when I got my wisdom teeth extracted and used it as an opportunity to give sobriety and quitting cigarettes another shot. I don’t remember precisely how long I lasted, but I know it was several months. I ended up drinking again a few times between that fall and winter and picked smoking back up because juggling the two wasn’t working for me. I took my last sip of alcohol on December 19, 2016 and my last smoke the day I found out I was really, for real pregnant.
I decided to publish this piece because I want to share what it’s like to fail at this. I’ve done it many times. It hurts and crushes you in ways only self-inflicted harm can do. Despite my best intentions, things got much worse for me before they got better. It breaks my heart a little to read some of the thoughts I was having at the time. I see a woman who felt mad at herself, depressed, maybe even suicidal, lost and friendless.
I’m in a much better place today than I was when I wrote this and pray every day for the strength to keep my head above water. If you’ve thought about or tried to quit drinking, and it hasn’t worked, please know that these failures are normal and they are not indicative of what your life is going to be forever. At some point, you will get out of your own way, forgive yourself, and get better.
Here’s what I wrote:
I managed to do it. I managed to toss away four months of very promising sobriety. I know how it happened, but I don’t know how it happened. Started innocently enough. I was at a rugby game with my husband and there was a bar, so I figured why not? And that led to another drink and some cigs, followed by a quick trip home to get a bottle of whiskey and a pack of my own. I continued to drink and smoke virtually every day after for almost two weeks.
What the hell am I doing?
Tumbling off the wagon is a bit like getting into an accident and awaking with partial amnesia. Suddenly, it is impossible to remember what it was actually like to live day to day without anxiety inducing cravings, to spend idle time being productive (or not, but at least you weren’t getting tipsy at 3 in the afternoon). The past week or so has impressively erased any feeling or connection I had to a sober existence. Now it’s just back to being this skittish, craving, raving mad woman I thought I had managed to best.
When I made a decision last April to get my shit together, I must admit that the initial “cleansing” period was fairly craving-free. It was a blessing really, one that I am now paying the price for treating so carelessly. I do believe in the cosmic power of karma and I squandered mine. So this time around it has been hell, and the days are long, and my heart feels like it might beat out of my chest. I don’t know if I was back on booze and cigs long enough for my digestive system to go bonkers again, but we’ll soon find out. I hate that I fell down so hard.
Why did I do it?
I won’t pretend that this just happened out of nowhere. I won’t pretend that it was sunbeams and rainbows up until that rugby match with the bar. The problems that drove me to addiction are still there. Whereas I did a lot to improve on the substance abuse end of things, I have admittedly made little leeway on the “other stuff.”
Quitting wasn’t enough to be well.
My current battles involve all manner of social awkwardness and anxiety. I do not form close bonds with people. I haven’t the first idea how to do it without being the belle of the boozy ball. My sober self is not interested in drunked buffoonery so being the sober sister out in most social settings is a fruitless endeavor. I just want to go home after an hour or so.
When it comes to my own inner demons, I am still regularly plagued with the idea that I am not awesome, and perhaps suck as a human being. I am not rude or a bad person per se, but I am not particularly riveting to anyone other than my husband and mother. My brother leads his own life, and it is a good one.
There are also days when I want it to stop and leave me be. I hate the incessant chatter in my brain, flickers of the past that re-devastate me each time they pop up in my thoughts. The negativity inside of my brain runs amuck and I must choose to be quiet often or it will escape through my mouth and I am NOT trying to be that girl. There are particularly dark moments when I figure fighting it is useless and seek more permanent solutions, but luckily those moments are fleeting at best and I recognize the impermanence of them instantly.
I do not like feeling like the girl who has nothing to talk about, who feels strange around people, and who more and more dislikes many of the people she comes across: the gossips, the drunk bros, the man-children, the omg girls, and the list certainly goes on. I just can’t, and they’re all I see. I know many of them are nice folks, but I am not impressed by stories of getting so wasted that you puked all over the bathroom or fed the dog half of the contents of your refrigerator. I just do not care and my soul is too weary for it.
Where is my tribe? Where are my people?
I started a blog and was psyched about it, but for now it is shelved. I can’t be all saintly like “hey world I finally got ma’ shit together,” tumble as hard as I did, and still publish. There’s pride involved, and honesty. I hate liars even though I am one. So I wait. I wait and see what is happening to me. I figure I will make tiny promises and steps towards fixing the “other stuff” and pray my sobriety can hang in there along the way. I will meditate every day, even if only for five minutes. I will work out at least twice a week. I will journal the shit out of this second ride and see if I can make heads or tails of it after a couple months. I got it in my head that I would go vegan for a couple weeks, lord knows why. Well, I know why; it’s because I need to lose about 10 pounds. POINT BEING I royally fucked up and the getting back is slow and arduous and these are the best solutions I could come up with given the circumstances. Stay tuned.