Day 8: Gratitude.

I had the most incredible morning today that I’ve decided to post earlier than I usually do. No worries, though, Day 8 will still end with me sober!

I went to church this morning with my friend Caroline. Though it’s the first time I’ve been to church in several months, the real story is what happened afterward. Now, Caroline and I are work friends. She’s in a different department than I am, so I don’t get to see her all that often. We used to get together pretty often, and no matter what we did it always started or ended with drinks (and sometimes both).

After church today Caroline and I went to brunch. I’ve always LOVED brunch–a great way to start a Sunday, a built-in excuse to have a couple mimosas and no one bats an eye. Today I obviously didn’t partake, and to my surprise neither did Caroline. The brunch went along swimmingly, lots of laughs, lots of avoiding talking about work. And then she asked how I’m doing.

D: “I’m doing really well, actually.”
C: “Oh, really well?”
D: “Well, yeah, I guess so to be honest. I’ve been feeling great lately. I’m thinking about maybe doing a retreat towards the end of November. You know, get off the grid, enjoy some solitude. Do you have any suggestions for a place I can go?”
C: “A retreat, eh? What’s going on?”

At this point I was tempted to act nonchalant and just say something about needing a break from work or something equally innocuous. Instead…

D: “Well, I recently stopped drinking.”

I gushed, much to my surprise. I told her about the reasons I stopped drinking. I told her about the last work gathering that I went to where I drank so much wine that I struggled to get home, and that when I finally did get home I drank so much whiskey that I blacked out. My dad called me that night, and I was too drunk to answer the phone. I told her how embarrassing it was to wake up with vomit on my front porch, in my bathroom, and in my bedroom and not remember how it got there. I told her how awful I felt that I couldn’t be present when my dad called. I told her that I’ve been to a couple AA meetings, and I told her about the great community I’ve found in the blog world.

C: “You know, you could have died. Either driving home or choking in bed or something.”
D: “I know. The sad thing is that this was becoming normal for me. Maybe not the blacking out part, but the uncontrolled drinking part for sure. I just realized that my drinking was getting worse and that it was time to stop while I still had the chance.”

And then the greatest (and most unexpected) thing happened.

C: “Well, I haven’t told anyone this, but I stopped drinking too. I’ve been sober for several weeks now.”

She then went on to tell me her story, and how hard it’s been, and how great it’s been not to drink. She told me that she’s been hesitant to hang out with me recently because her own journey to sobriety has been tenuous, and she was concerned that getting together with me would trigger her to drink.

We had a real conversation about our individual struggles, each of our families’ issues around drinking, and how hard it can be to work in a place where seemingly every social event involves booze. As we walked out of brunch we made a vow to be there for each other–even through relapse, God forbid–and to change our friendship from merely “drinking buddies” to just plain ol’ buddies.

I don’t know why I told her about my sobriety, but I’m so glad I did. Today I feel such gratitude for having a flesh-and-bone compatriot on this journey. And I feel such gratitude to be able to have all of you folks to share it with as well. People make the journey not only doable, but worthwhile as well.

Art: Sunrise, Roy Lichtenstein

 

Day 7: A Week!

Seven days without drinking. Tomorrow morning is the start of Week 2. I’m pretty sure that’s the longest I’ve ever gone without a drink–and I’m pretty proud of that. Thanks so much for all of your support.

Looking back I think I can characterize this week as “detox” more than anything else. The thought of drinking or not drinking was always at the forefront of my mind. When I was triggered it was painful. When I wasn’t triggered, I was still thinking about the drink in one way or another. But I made it through, and that’s what counts.

As I start my second week my hope is to work toward building new opportunities for growth and reflection. To be honest, when I stopped drinking I na├»vely thought that I would automatically become more balanced, more introspective, and more appreciative of life. Like a switch would flip after the last of the booze left my body, and in some way I would become–hmm–more enlightened. But if this past week has shown me anything it’s that I need to be patient and vigilant. Self-realization will take a lot of time and a lot work.

Susan, a fellow sobernik, recommended that I ought to find a local Meeting this evening. (Check out her great blog: http://sswl3.wordpress.com). She thought that perhaps I needed a bit of real human fellowship, and she was right. I won’t say too much about the Meeting other than the fact that I heard the beautiful and painful (but mostly beautiful) stories of four people, all of whom have been sober for more than 20 years, and one of whom has been sober for 40 years. They’ve all known each other for 20+ years as well, so their stories of sobriety were incredibly intertwined. They all met at AA, and they’re all still connected. It was incredible, really. Their stories were just what I needed to hear tonight. I’m glad I went.

Art: Evening, by Caspar David Friedrich