What does really happen during the 1st 30 days of sobriety? It depends. THAT is a stock answer for conditions that otherwise can vary. In this case, from person to person and degree of damage to our physical being and where our spirituality exists. I love the expression “early sobriety.” It feels kind of like I am a newborn and being open to understanding, it feels really GOOD.
What did it take for me to get to 30 days? (Currently, I am writing this at day 42 but with some retrospect and space, easier to look at) 30 DAYS sober WITHOUT being pregnant, trying to lose weight, trying to get pregnant, on a self-inflicted diet or cleanse or otherwise “trying to moderate.” Let me start with a little history of my alcohol experience and loss of my spiritual well-being or even what one might consider ANY spirituality at all. Even at a young age I lost (as a lot of us) the experience of being present and eyes wide open to life.
I started drinking and binging at age 16. At first, it was on occasion because I didn’t spend time at parties in town or at college until age 18. However, my first drinking experiences all did end up the same way. Numb the pain. I did have a lot of anxiety, OCD, insecurity and panic attacks in high school. I smoked as young as 13. i would steal my dad’s cigarettes and “take a walk” to the end of my street to rebel and smoke. I do not smoke anymore and haven’t for over 10 years. I digress.
What happened next was a continuous cycle of alcohol binges and constant drinking. I didn’t FEEL addicted until recent years when something started to change physically. The physical cravings appeared long after the emotional and mental addiction was established. I know within my heart that my alcoholism started when I picked up my first drink to hide everything. To blend, to feel better, to stop the anxiety and to stop my brain from go go going. So eventually I began the descent into what could be a very well established bottom. I was as my coach might say when we first met, I was “on the scale” of alcoholism and though she couldn’t say I was an alcoholic, I had sought her help; I had every warning sign. What I know is that as a “high functioning” alcoholic (executive career, fine home, sweet husband and adorable son) my bottom was going to fall out from beneath me if I didn’t get right. My husband had already told me 2 years ago that he considered divorce if I didn’t stop drinking. At this point I was drinking every night while working in the kitchen and passing out on the couch. I stopped that. The descent into moderation and medicine commenced. Future blog on that to be linked back here later. I have a LOT to say.
So, how did I get to 30 days? What did it feel like to say “no more.” It kind of progressed for me. I knew in my heart and my body that the cycle had to stop. It is that infamous saying “being sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I first reached out to others in recovery but I was normally drunk and blah blah blah later, nothing sunk in. AA was a cult and I didn’t belong in rehab, nor did I have the time. So after hitting a parked car in a parking lot one night and driving home in a blackout I woke up the next morning crying to my husband that it had to stop and I had to do something. I didn’t do it then. I did reach out to someone he recommended but I thought I could still “do it on my own.” This is where the reservations came in. I was already telling myself that I would go through the motions and maybe on my birthday have a drink. BECAUSE LORD KNOWS AFTER 20 years of drinking I could suddenly “scare” myself into moderation. Really? Fast forward to a work trip and guess what I did? I went to the bar at the airport! It is like being in that Las Vegas rules setting. Once you are in an airport you might as well be in International waters baby. Drinking doesn’t exist. So, I proceeded to do what I did best; got my drink on from Boston to California and it didn’t stop. Every night after work, the drinking would start. I would moderate a few days and then binge. BECAUSE I knew I would eventually have to stop. I increased my drinking so that I could say goodbye but I couldn’t. I blacked out at some point. I texted the coach as soon as I could. I was done. Almost.
I did return home and sobered up. I signed up for coaching and went to my first AA meeting. My mind was opened but I had to take baby steps and I also had to be ready. I kind of was, kind of wasn’t. 23 days in, I relapsed. I had a party for alcohol. I did. I told everyone. I am having a goodbye party. I never had that one last “great glass of wine” and I will never go to Italy and have wine in Italy or France. The rationale is astounding. Looking at it now feels different. Needless to say, I did stop. I embarrassed myself that night, again. I passed out, I drunk dialed my mom and my husband had to fight me for the Bud Lights I stashed in the freezer (yes, Bud lights). I told him I had to have them. Finally, I gave up.
Physically, I got tired. So fucking tired. I wake up every morning at 5am to go to the gym. This has never changed for me. Even hungover. I couldn’t even do a basic workout by week 2. I was SO tired. I am tired thinking about it. I threw myself at every movie, book and joined a great group of people online. I went to AA meetings with my coach. I started to do the work and it is hard work. Some days I felt so anxious and still do. I had to work through it. I had one moment where I was going to drink. It was going to happen and I had nowhere to go. I had to watch my son and I had to function. I just wanted to drink. All the forgetters where there. Finally, I threw on an episode of the Bubble Hour and calmed myself but it was super hard. When I got my 30 day coin I thought meekly “yahhhhhh” but I was glad I made it and it was the longest month ever. Now, don’t get me wrong – it is still hard 12 days later and getting oddly harder. I panic at parties and if I don’t reach out, I will relapse. I am cranky a lot and confused. I have short term memory loss and I walk into rooms for no reason. Today I felt lousy for no reason; dragging my bones around but they are healthier bones. They no longer shake or ache and for that I can move ahead to day 60.
Next blog: my forgetters