Lately I’ve been reflecting on how far I’ve come since first quitting last February. I’ve made it through many challenging firsts. A friend in recovery told me in the beginning, “The first year is the hardest because you have so many firsts, everything is a first and can be difficult and uncomfortable, and then it is no big deal.” Knowing this helped me get through some of the tough firsts.
February 10th- My last day of drinking after nightly drinking since being pregnant (10 years prior).
February 13- my 1st third day sober in several years and also my late mother’s birthday. I was making dinner when my husband got home from work. He came in to give me a hug and I melted in his arms with heavy sobs. He comforted me, thinking that I was upset about my mom, who’s passing was still fairly fresh. I wasn’t upset about my mom, I was crying because I had wine in the garage and I wanted it SO badly. This is so utterly ridiculous to me now. I was upset not because of my dead mom’s birthday that I could not celebrate with her, but because I wanted a drink so friggin bad. He talked me through it and we ended up going for a walk after dinner. I made it through and later dumped the wine. To this day, that 3rd day was by far the most difficult day to stay sober. I wasn’t going through physical withdrawals either, it was all psychological. Habits die hard!
March 17- St. Patrick’s Day AND my 40th birthday. I threw myself a party at my house. My sister and brother in law gave me a 5th of rum (they did not know I quit). I later gave it to my cat sitter (I wanted someone to be able to enjoy it!). Hubby made a delicious “Almond Joy” cake and my BFF brought a cake over. I indulged on cake. It was pretty fun, but the whole night it felt like a good friend was missing. I was missing my party companion, alcohol. I felt incredibly boring, but my BFF later told me that she didn’t think I was boring and that I was much more entertaining than if I had gotten wasted and crashed out early. All in all, it was a success!
April 2017- Spring Break. We flew to Florida and stayed at my sister’s. She and her boyfriend drank a couple of nights, but mostly didn’t drink. Our drinking together goes way back, so it was kind of difficult, but by now I had a lot of sobriety under my belt and didn’t want to ruin it. This was my first sober vacation and it was pretty great. We were active and did many cool things, like run through the tropics and over the causeway and kayaking down a river filled with gators and manatees. I could tell that my sister was envious of our commitment to a healthy and active vacation. It was a great trip and I left with no regrets!
Difficult things that I mastered over the summer of 2017:
The pool. Traditionally, I never went in without a drink. Interestingly enough, around the time that we opened it was the same time as my first relapse. I relapsed every 2 weeks or so over the summer, but still had a lot of sober time, so I spent more time in the pool not drinking than drinking. By the end of the summer, it was normal to hop on my float with a book and a tall glass of ice water. I enjoyed the pool so much more sober. By September I was using it more than I ever had before. It became a great place to cool off after a walk and swim refreshing laps. Since the day we closed it I have been counting down the days till we can open it again. I hope that I’m not tempted at first, but at least I know that the temptation will go away with practice.
The beach. Like the pool, it was highly unusual for me to be at the beach without alcohol. We went a few times over the summer for family parties and after a few times it was second nature to be coherent. It was actually nice to be able to drive our family home and get stuff done afterwards. Previously, any trips to the beach ended with me passing out in the car on the way home and not remembering getting home and going to bed. It was also a bonus to be able to socialize without slurring and remembering all of the conversations I had.
The cottage. This was a toughie. Our first trip up was also during my early relapse days. I love going up to the cottage, but it is sometimes a sad place to be. My mom died about a year after she bought it. My aunt, uncle and grandma lived next door. Since my mom died, my grandma and my uncle have passed away. My aunt still lives up there, but works a lot so sometimes when we’re up there it’s incredibly lonely. Especially when I start to think of the good ole days when being at the cottage meant being surrounded by family members at all times. July 3rd and 4th are always difficult days. My mom passed away on July 3rd and hearing all of the fireworks on July 4th always brings back those awful memories. Happy to say that I stayed sober both days this summer. This was pretty huge for me and I know my mom was proud <3 After that, I basically stayed sober at the cottage. I tried to focus on getting good sleep and exercising. Also, I’m triggered when my other sister is up there with me. She drinks a lot. I was able to abstain while she was up there with us and this was with lots of alcohol in the fridge. I did drink one time near the end of the summer. It was our last hurrah up there and I drank Saturday night and also Sunday all day while we were getting ready to go home and chilling at the beach. It wasn’t pretty and I don’t want to do that again.
Since summer of 2017 I’ve had a couple of other firsts. My first sober concert, which was totally enjoyable with Red Bull and my first trip up to my Bff’s house. I’ve never spent the night at her house sober (except maybe during my pregnancies). I didn’t sleep great because they are so loud at night, but I did do the whole night sober. It was fun, we sat in the jacuzzi and played cards and ate snacks. Again, I came home with no regrets– which is like the best feeling ever!
Next will be my first sober Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am totally looking forward to spending the holidays fully present and feeling well. During my time off I’ll be able to fit in a lot of workouts. I think I’m getting a bike for Christmas, going to go on lots of bike rides if it’s not too cold. There is so much to look forward too, especially knowing that alcohol will not be in charge and dictating what I do, when I do it, and then waking up feeling like death.
Then New Years eve. I’ll eat delicious snacks and actually remember the ball dropping!
It feels amazing to have kicked guilt and shame to the curb and to be living life fully present each and every day <3