Friday, September 23, 2011

On Getting Through A Social Event

***Submitted by Christine

Note from Ellie:  We post submissions in the order we receive them, so a bit of time has passed since Christine submitted this post, and I want to let everyone know she made it through, sober and strong.  This is a beautiful example of things we think about/things we can do when faced with a social occasion where alcohol will be served.

My name is Christine and I’m an alcoholic. 

I’ve been sober since April 2nd, 2010.  The handy “count your days” meter on the Grapevine website tells me that’s 504 days.  Five hundred and four?  For real?  Because I never thought I’d get to four days, much less another five hundred. 

Two years ago if I attempted not drinking for a day, I would start the morning with the best of intentions only to find myself drunk by 8 o’clock that night.  It took one traumatic event and a few hard line ultimatums from my husband before I finally was willing to accept that my drinking was out of control and my behavior was hurting the people I loved the most. 

I did not go to my first AA meeting with an open mind and willing heart.  I went because everyone was telling me that I needed to go.  That I needed help.  That I was one false step away from a DWI and a stay in rehab, or a dandy little seizure…whichever came first.   I did not stop drinking when I started attending AA meetings.  I went to my first Saturday morning meeting totally hung over from the night before.  But I went.  And I listened.  And I started to feel that it would be possible for me to get sober if I kept going and kept listening. 

The first time I stopped drinking I made it forty-three days.  On the forty-fourth day I went to the liquor store, bought two bottles of vodka and proceeded to drink daily for the next two months.  I still went to work, I still functioned as a wife and mother (barely) but I was just a drunken excuse of an employee, spouse and Mom.  There was no big bang or white light moment for me.  There was no intervention.  There was just the knowledge that I had to stop.  I could not continue the way I was going without serious damage to my brain, my liver, my job, my children and my marriage. 

And so I began the long, painful crawl towards sobriety.  During these past five hundred (and four!) days I have avoided almost all social functions where I might be tempted by alcohol.  I’ve passed on anniversary parties, picnics, holiday parties, and birthday parties because I’ve not been absolutely sure that I could not give in to the temptation to drink.  After all, I’ve been using alcohol to make socializing fun and comfortable since I was thirteen years old.  That’s thirty years of buzzed or drunken schmoozing.  How’s a girl supposed to re-learn how to mingle, laugh, dance, and have a good time without the crutch of alcohol to lean upon?

But today, the reckoning has arrived.  In three hours I’m going to join my co-workers at a large event where the booze will flow freely and I will be forced to face my cunning, baffling and oh so terribly strong disease head on.  This event will last until Sunday morning.  On Sunday morning, I plan to come home with five hundred and six days of sobriety on the counter. 

How will I do this?   First, I am taking back-up.  My fifteen year old daughter is going with me.  I’ve already told her that this might be hard for me and I might be very tempted by all the alcohol around me.  I’ve told her that I will not drink.  I will not throw away all of my hard work or the trust that I’ve had to regain from her and her sister.  I will not disappoint my family that way.  Second, I have prepared myself mentally for the battle ahead. 

I’ve reminded myself of what it took to get sober and what it means to stay sober.  I have repeated my serenity prayer multiple times this week and asked my higher power for the strength and grace that I will need to make it through these next two days. 

And third, I have asked myself if I can do this.  And myself has said, yes—yes you can.  If myself had wavered at all, I would not be going.  Because I’ve learned to listen to myself and trust myself in these last five hundred (and four!) days in a way that I could not before.  And finally, I am here writing this to you all; my sisters in the struggle.  I’m sharing with you and I’m asking you to think of me this weekend. 

Think of me, send me your positive thoughts and know that we’re never alone in the battle.  I will carry you with me, knowing that you’re cheering me on from afar

8 comments:

  1. I was moved by your story, and I congratulate you. I am so scared right now. I down, nightly, 160 proof vodka because 80 proof wasn't enough anymore. I have three little girls, a wonderful husband. And the worst part? I am not yet convinced I want to quit. How do you possibly go from there?

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  2. Christine - I want to thank you for sharing your story. The fact that you've trusted yourself and listened to the call of your heart with respect to social events is inspiring. After a year of sobriety, I sometimes feel pressured to "be cured" already. Knowing that "I'm allowed" to take my own time is really good.

    Anonymous - I was scared to quit too. I couldn't imagine my life without my escape hatch. I couldn't see what it might mean to quit. I think it begins with sharing your story and your struggle with people who understand and care. Any step you take is a start. I wish you well.

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  3. Good thoughts for you. You will do this. Think how fabulous you will feel on Sunday!!

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  4. thank you for reaching out and reminding me that we cannot so this alone. Breaking out of the isolation and shame is paramount. THere are days when I say the serenity prayer almost with every step I take. I swim laps and recite it over and over again to get it into my thick irish alcoholic brain that I am not in charge. I jsut went to my first music festival sober. And, not surprisingly, I didn't really like it. Guess what? I don't like crowds. All those years I drank and smoked weed to buffer myself form this simple fact. crazy and baffling and powerful indeed. Bless you sista! thanks for the post.

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  5. YOU are very inspiring...I read your post twice. I am so happy for you and your family....like a new lease on life. You should be very proud of yourself.

    I am on day three. The nights are tense, difficult...but the mornings are glorious. No hangover. No regret. No anger towards myself. That, I hope is enough to keep me going. The only regret, it the last 20 years that I wasted feeling bad about myself.
    Take care

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  6. To Christine, I am soooo very proud of you. I am on day 84 and am not at all ready for parties. I even stay away from sitting near the bar at restaurants. GOOD JOB!!!!

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  7. To the anonymous writer on September 23, 2011 1:51 PM, I beg you to stop what you are doing, take a deep breath and look around. You could lose all of that. We are here for you. Go to a meeting. Sobriety is wonderful once you surrender to a higher power. Linda

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  8. When I read this Christine, you made it through the social event sober!! Congratulations!! From one alcoholic to another, I know that was not easy, because my story is similar to your's, since I was 13, I could not go to a social event, or would not, go to an event sober. The first time I went to a concert sober, it was because I was pregnant, (before sobriety, my 2 pregnancies were the only time I did not drink) & I swore I was never going to do that again, I couldn't imagine fun without drinking but after 25 years, it stopped being fun & my 2 girls begged me to stop drinking during a family intervention, it was the most gut-wrenching thing to go through but I quit and have been sober since BUT I had to go to a wedding a year into my recovery, & I was pissed, I didn't want to go, like you, my girls were with me, I sat at my table during the reception pissed off at everyone drinking, I kept thinking, why can they drink champagne & have fun & I can't? I totally felt sorry for myself, when I couldn't take another buzzed toast from the wedding party, I told the girls I wanted to leave but just then a slow song came on & my 10 year old asked me if I would dance with her, and we did & it was an ethereal moment I'll never forget, because next to us was a couple trying to walk off the dance floor but stumbled & fell flat on their butts & I'm thinking that probably would have been me but I'm looking down at my little girls face, and I was finally happy I was sober. I wasn't happy about it for a long time, and to the women who posted the comment, it is an addiction that will keep on going, it is a destructive behavior but what ever will get you into treatment, that's for you to know, just get to treatment, and then find out what you need to do to stop the behavior, but it will take steps, help, resources and you may be like me, you may not be very happy to get sober, but I knew I had to get sober and to stay sober for my girls, and Christine, please keep up the good work, you will now be in my thoughts everyday and I will check back. Josee

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