It’s time for my annual reminder that I have a drinking problem. The truth is I’m reminded daily but it is the time of the year I like to use this space to talk about it. On Oct. 1 I will be seven years sober. That’s roughly 2,557 consecutive 24 hours.
I am so dramatically different from the person I was back then that it is hard for me to imagine it was just seven years ago, yet the time has flown by so fast I feel like I had my last drink yesterday.
In May of 2015, Memorial Day weekend, I had no idea I was an alcoholic. I liked to get drunk with my friends, that’s what I knew. We used to joke that we were drunks, not alcoholics, because alcoholics went to meetings.
I certainly had a picture in my mind of what an alcoholic looked like and I didn’t fit the bill. I had a job that I was successful at, I had a home and car and I didn’t wake up and raid the liquor cabinet. I didn’t have to drink everyday and I didn’t really crave drinking. I had friends, people I could count on and people who counted on me.
The amount I was drinking had come into question from time to time over the years though. I once no-called-no-showed to work. It was a pretty dramatic scene playing out while I slept through most of the day. I hadn’t resurfaced since entering the bar the night before and no one could get a hold of me. I didn’t think much of it since I knew I was just sleeping it off, but my coworkers and friends were calling hospitals and police stations to look for me.
My boss at the time asked if I thought I was an alcoholic. I confidently declared I was not, for the reasons I stated above. I also had an ex-boyfriend tell me my drinking was not normal. It was seconds before he walked out the door for the last time, so I just attributed it to sour grapes. My life seemed pretty normal to me, that is until I got arrested. I was driving home from my normal watering hole at 2 a.m. with someone I just met following behind me. I had been drinking since 4 p.m. and decided to make the drive knowing I had a headlight out and against the sound advice of my best friend. Turns out I had two headlights out. That lead to me getting pulled over, which led to me getting arrested, which led to court ordered counseling and a 12-step program.
It’s important to note that getting arrested did not make me realize I was an alcoholic. I used to go to DUI school and then Uber to the bar. Once I had to start the 12-step program, though, I decided to stop drinking until I had fulfilled the requirement, with every intention of drinking when it was done.
The further away from drinking I got, the more I started to realize that maybe the amount I was drinking was not normal. I definitely recognized that once I started drinking, I didn’t want to stop and did not stop until I passed out. I realized I was lying to people about why I couldn’t honor my commitments and missed some important moments with family and friends because I went to a bar instead.
I also began to realize that I didn’t always get in trouble when I was drinking, but when I did get in trouble I was always drinking. I could see that my actions were hurtful to many people. It wasn’t a pretty picture.
I like to think that seven years later I can make up for that lost time and I certainly hope that I enrich the lives of others as truth and honesty are now my mantra. I don’t tell my story to garner praise. I agree with the sentiment that sobriety anniversaries are a pat on the back for doing something you should have been doing all along. Nevertheless, I feel it important to use this platform to tell my story because I know how important it was for me to hear other people’s stories.
Alcoholism doesn’t have a specific look. It doesn’t care who you are or what your social status is. It can happen to a loner; it can happen to the most popular person in the room and it can happen to those you look up to the most. It’s important to talk about it, to remove the stigma and hopefully save some lives.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.