Day one – sober beginnings

Ah day one, here you are again. Greeting me like a well-acquainted prison guard that I swore I’d never see again. Everything about you is so familiar: the exhaustion, the dull pounding headache, the queasiness, the disappointment, the wasting of a day. I could have spent today dancing with the gentle breeze in the sunshine, watching the sparse clouds move by as the birds sang their songs. I could have been present, alive, connected. Instead, I’m hidden away in my house alone except for the dog. I haven’t been able to face the outdoors for the joy and warmth of the sun seem to mock me. I’ve done little but sleep and mope. My planned day of productivity was washed away with last night’s impulsive gin-swigging. It was hardly a “big sesh”, just a few to take the edge off and connect with my drinking company. But a few is enough to restart the sober clock over again and so here I am, back in this well-worn routine of stating no more.

For a time, I was doing so much better: longer and longer stints of sobriety that lifted my spirits and gave me hope. But for reasons I’m still trying to untangle, this month has been a write-off. I’ve had barely a week under my belt before I’ve been lured by the wolf in sheep’s clothing that is alcohol. Maybe it’s that we’ve been extra social this month, joining our friends and family in enjoying the light nights that have the air dripping in possibility. Sobriety can be lonely, and the want to connect with those sipping sparkling grown-up drinks in long-stemmed glasses has been more intense. But while they sip, I swig, obsessively watching signs that this company I keep drinks like me. Of course, they don’t. My partner tells me I need to slow down when I drink, that I’m a binge drinker who knocks them back at an alarming rate and he’s right. But what he doesn’t understand is how impossible I find it to drink any other way. I cannot slowly enjoy a cold glass of wine or sip delicately on a Disarano and coke. When I drink, I drink. I knock them back like I’m afraid someone will take it off me. I do not know and cannot understand any other way.

I’ve been on this sober journey on and off since January 2020. In this time, I’ve achieved so many sober milestones that have made me proud: hitting over 100 days, attending weddings, parties, and birthdays, including my own, all sober. I’ve enjoyed a sober Christmas and New Year. I’ve clawed my way out of the mirky depths of anxiety and depression, given my career a kick up the arse, moved to a beautiful new home, built stronger relationships with those I love, and found understanding in the sober community. But I’ve always, eventually, gone back to the booze. I’ve risked new rock bottoms and let the shame suffocate me time and time again. The reality is, that even though I’ve written a hundred times, I’ve never let myself fully accept I’m not a “normal” drinker. My relationship with alcohol is complicated and strained. It’s an all-in-all-out abusive relationship that I need to finally close the door on.

Today is another day-one in a messy history of stops and starts. But it has the power to be the last day-one if I commit, here and now, to truly putting in the work. And so here I am, writing a new sober blog, saying I am ready. It is time.

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