My sober journey begun 10 years ago when I walked into a church basement to attend a 12-step meeting, with every intention to never, ever, pick up a drink again! Yet, I spent the next four years trying to figure out exactly how to do that!
At that point in my life, I was a daily drinker, and was desperately trying to figure out how to drink responsibly. Unfortunately, once I put alcohol in my body, I never knew what would actually happen — my deep desire, and honest promises to self, that I would not get shitfaced this time, often went out the window. In addition, I had already been to detox several times, I spent ten days in jail after a DUI arrest, and I couldn’t keep a job. Three months prior I spent a week at a mental health hospital after a drunken night.
I didn’t see that my drinking was the issue and I was sure that I was not an alcoholic! I just had a shitty life, and shitty stuff happened to me, and if you had my shitty life you would drink like me too.
I spent some time in treatment center which I attended from 9 am to 12 pm, Monday through Friday.
Rehab was hard. I was in a room with “real” addicts and alcoholics, and I felt that I did not belong there! In reality, I was in a huge amount of denial and I wasn’t ready to get sober. Yet, I desperately wanted to see my daughter again, and get my ex and the courts of my ass! So I had no choice, I had to at least try to stay sober. For the first few months I struggled horribly to stay sober, but the daily morning breathalyzer kept me from taking the chance. During the counseling sessions I just sat there thinking that would get me by, until one day my counselor stated that if I do not commit to some progress she would not be able to give the courts a favorable report. So, little by little I started opening up. The daily 3 hour counseling sessions were starting to get through to me, and I was starting to see how my drinking had taken me to a place in life that I have never imagined. At the same time, in a group setting I could always find a member whose life was much worse than mine. After all, I was educated and smart, and owned a condo in the prime suburbs of Washington, DC! I was paying bills and had a job — well some of the time. But I was definitely not living under a bridge, or drinking out of a paper bag wrapped bottle of vodka, and this precisely was why I was not an alcoholic!
Nevertheless, I started getting some sober time under my belt and I began to feel optimistic. Things were really looking up; my self-esteem had come back, and my life troubles were working out. But after a few months of the sober joy, I completely forgot how bad things actually were when I drank. So I decided to try some controlled drinking on Fridays and Saturdays. In the beginning it was just a few glasses of wine, then I would get drunk, but not too drunk; I was controlling how drunk I was, by just buying what I thought would get me to a nice buzz, but not obliterated. I thought that this was an ingenious plan and each one of the times that I did not get drunk, I felt like I controlled my drinking just perfectly – see, I didn’t blackout and nothing bad happened – I do not have a problem! But of course, lying about drinking to the counselors at the rehab the entire time.
Later, since I was controlling my drinking so well, I figured that I could drink on Sundays too, but only if I stopped drinking by 8pm, because I had read somewhere that it took 12 hours for the alcohol to leave your system. This seemed like a perfect plan! So I started drinking one Sunday morning but I don’t remember the day… I don’t remember going to bed either. This time the plan didn’t go so well… I showed up at rehab at 9am on Monday and had a positive breathalyzer result. Everyone was notified of my “relapse,” and I was put on probation — ugh. I guess drinking on Sundays was a definite no-no, I thought!
Despite trying to manage my drinking through the first year of rehab, I did get some time in sobriety, because whatever controlled drinking I was trying out, it was eventually failing, and I was then forced to stay sober anyway. So not being able to see any other way out, and wanting so desperately to get out of this crazy situation, I actually remained sober for 6 months, and finally graduated from the rehab. Ha! Who does that! Of course, not an alcoholic!
I still didn’t really want to be sober, I mean I did… sort of… just not all the time… maybe some of the time, but the rest of my life!? Hell NO! What I really wanted was a third option — there had to be a third option…
To read the part 2 of “How My Relapse Years Got Me Sober” click HERE.
Did you at some point try controlled drinking? Were you successful? I’d love to hear about.
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