***Submitted by Claire, who blogs at Self-Reliance Run Rampant
I am only as sick as my secrets
March 31, 2010 was my sobriety date. But the truth is, it isn't.
After years of a heavy wine habit, ending at 2+ bottles a night, I knew I was done drinking. My relapse lasted 11 years. For the last several years, I waited every day to wake up and know that the pain of continuing to drink was more than I could pay to drink. When that day came, I tried to quit. The shakes, sweats, and insomnia were more than I could take. If I could have ripped off my skin, I would have. All I needed was a few days, 3 or so, and I knew I could go from there. I had done it before, but the first time I quit, I hadn't drunk as much for as long.
After confessing to my doctor, he gave me 5 days of librium. I took it for 4 days and got my few days. On Day 6, with my husband traveling, I slipped.
There was a bottle of scotch I intended to take to my mother's house, and despite loathing scotch, I drank myself stupid. I may have puked. We were having our house painted, and I awoke the next morning to the painters knocking at the door, more hungover than I had been in years. It was all I could do to open the door, mumble I was sick, and go upstairs to pass out in the guest room for another six hours. When I awoke, still miserable, they were gone. I was mortified. I was supposed to be working from home, but I hadn't even logged in or checked on my team all day. As we all do, I felt shame and guilt and sick. Librium is supposed to pass out of your body pretty quickly (it was no accident that it was two whole days after
I'd stopped taking it that I drank), but there still must have been some in me.
I felt like a walking corpse.
And since I had 5 days of sobriety on April 6th, I did what I have always done: rationalize, minimize, deny, and tell no one. I took that slip and buried it deep away, put my happy AA face on and stuck with my original sobriety date story. And while I didn't completely forget, I didn't take that secret out and examine it either.
My drinking was hidden in a cupboard, that is my go to position: hide, lie by omission, and never waver from the original story. I'm just starting to understand how deep and old and reflexive that habit is. It's so deep it
doesn't feel like a habit, it feels like a Prime Directive.
That shit will kill me one way or another. One day this month, while working on my fourth step, I went on the back deck to smoke. As I sat looking over the ridge, anticipating a sober spring and my AA birthday on 3/31, I realized I have a huge lie hanging over my sobriety. As my marriage knits back together, as my Higher Power links me into a sober community that helps me see the folly in my mantra of self-reliance, I risk it with a lie. I had a moment of clarity: Your sobriety date is not March 31st; you have to tell the truth.
Suddenly, I knew I had to tell my sponsor, then, everyone else. The fear of
everyone's disappointment was nothing to the fear that keeping my secret could
lead me back to drinking.
It took me another 2 weeks to actually tell my sponsor. But I did. Of course she understood, it is what people in early sobriety often do. Then I changed my sobriety date in our home group directory. Then I told my husband, then our therapist, and finally the rest of my sober network.
My progress is in confessing my secret. I refuse to allow it and that bitch 'Ism' to have this power over me. I bought her story for the last time on April 6, 2010. I thought I knew I was done on March, 31st. Apparently, I had to research one more night. I never, ever, EVER want to feel that way again.
I am an alcoholic, and my sobriety date is April 7, 2010.
P.S. A day after writing this I went to a meeting. The topic of surrendering our will to our Higher Power came up. I saw my slip and subsequent lie in a different light. It was my will that my sobriety date was 3/31, but God's will that it be 4/7. I think I'll go with God's version.