For years I felt the eyes. Everywhere.
I felt them questioning how much and how many. I felt them watch as I picked drunken fights with my husband. I felt them stare as I bought gigantic bottles of wine for one. I felt them linger as I slept away weekends in booze induced comas. I felt them on me as I chose the bottle over being present at night for my kids. I felt them burn into me as I took an escape route. I always felt eyes on me while I drank. Or thought about drinking. As I poured my glass that never became empty. As I became sneaky and defiant. I felt eyes on me through my addiction.
My addiction told me it was enough. That I was not, and it was everything I had. It told me I was weak and needed an escape, that my life was crap and I couldn't handle it. So I took the escape, I took the glass as many nights as I could, using any excuse that I could. Red wine helped my migraines, the kids were driving me insane, I'd had a long day. I deserved my wine. It was all that I had.
So I'd sit with my third glass of wine as my husband came out of the kids bedroom from putting them down for the night. Many nights. We made a point of him being the bedtime guy, so that I could have a break.
So that I could drink.
So that I could check out from my family. My life.
I would hear the click of the kids bedroom door, and wait for him to come out. I'd listen to the sound of our living room clock, and try to squeeze myself into the silence that was between the tick and the tock. I tried to disappear, and then maybe - just maybe - he wouldn't see my glass. He wouldn't see how far gone the wine bottle was, or that there was a second waiting to be opened. I avoided my husbands eyes as he would walk through the living room. Otherwise, I might owe him an explanation.
I always felt I owed everyone when I drank. I was a yes drinker. Yes to more, yes to crazy plans, yes to favors and yes to people walking over me. Yes to guilt ridden hungover mornings and days with no patience for my children. Yes to the addiction and isolation.
No to me.
By the end I couldn't decipher myself from my addiction. We were one, close knit and the best of friends. But those eyes kept coming back, and I could never feel total peace, could never be alone with myself without feeling like I needed something more than me. And I was lonely when I was playing with my kids or having a quiet night with my husband. Whenever that glass was empty, I was lonely.
And then I was lonely with the glass. Because I'd be the last one drinking. The only one drinking, or the only one pouring. It was me and the bottle, and those eyes of shame.
Ending my relationship with alcohol has been the hardest thing I've ever done. The first week I felt ill, not from withdrawal symptoms, but from the feelings of guilt, shame, and fear that overwhelmed me. Sick from flashbacks and memories of every time I picked up a drink. Sick from realizations of where drinking took me, the dark places that could have been avoided, the pain that I inflicted on myself and others.
The hardest part has been figuring out how to listen to myself and not the addiction. Because the voice of addiction still lies within me. Today I'm on day 44 of my sobriety, but without constant vigilance I could slip. Sobriety is not something I will ever take for granted. Now I pray a lot. I read a lot. I drink a lot more water and hot tea than I used to. But I can also be alone with my thoughts. I can look at my kids and get teary not because I miss my wine, but because I'm here to witness their beauty. To be in the moment with them.
Now, I know I'm enough. And the eyes?
The eyes smile down on me with love and patience.