by DEB HAY
One day at a time, the days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years.
Yes. They do.
So what’s different today?
I have been married for nearly eight years. (That whole thing about not getting into a relationship when you first get sober? Totally ignored that. Met Richard when I was 3 weeks sober. I looked upon our meeting as my reward for not drinking. It is a lot easier to focus on your recovery when you’re not in a new relationship, but that’s why everyone gets into one. We don’t want to focus on us when we could be focusing on something else – food, smoking, another person? Lucky for me that Richard was Mr Right, and is along for the long haul. He’s been my rock.)
I have a five and a half year old son. His name is Alex. He is beautiful. Today, when I wake up, I know that I won’t have embarrassed him with my drunken antics, I won’t have endangered his life by driving drunk. I may embarrass him in other ways, but at least I don’t have to worry about the ones that I can’t remember.
When I have a good time, it’s real, and not the product of a glass of alcohol. It’s a lot harder to have a good time when you’re sober, cause alcohol is a magic carpet ride into the land of “gee whiz, everyone is HILARIOUS tonight!!” Everything seems funny until you wake up with vomit all over your new jacket, no money, the car parked at a crazy-jaunty angle in the car park and a sense of dread at the missing hours in the night that enabled you to get grass stains on your back. Yes, it takes more effort to have fun without alcohol. But it’s real, and it lasts.
I have a good relationship with my family these days. I particularly have a friendship with my sisters, instead of always needing to be rescued by them. My approach to family occasions would be something like the line in that song “I love the good times that you wreck…” I could be counted on to pick a fight, to get too drunk, to show up with only half an hour’s sleep and a massive hangover, reeking of alcohol. The fact that I have my sisters back is proof of their capacity to forgive and my capacity to change. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been so worthwhile. My parents and I have a better relationship too, I am more able to look after myself and others than to always be the one needing scraping off the road.
I respect myself these days. Don’t get me wrong – I desperately miss alcohol sometimes. I miss the ease that it gave me, I miss the ways in which I could be the life and soul of the party. But, the buzz I got from alcohol was shifty. I could never predict which nights would be the “wooohooo sister, we is having fuuuuun” and which nights would be the “you skanky ho, get away from my (ex)boyfriend, imma punch you in the stomach”. And no, I didn’t ever get violent when I drank … but that didn’t stop me from copping a punch in the guts once when an equally drunken lass didn’t appreciate me giggling and dancing with her ex boyfriend.
I started to become less trustworthy. I took to drunk driving. I took to getting friendly with inappropriate men. All the people I hung out with went home and I started hanging out with the hard party crew. And, as your parents would tell you – guess what comes with the hard party crew? DRUGS! Drugs are bad, mmmkay? Although they seem like fun when you’re drunk. I was such a try hard, chameleon, trying to fit in with the people who I thought were the coolest. So when the people I hung around with started talking about drugs, I took on the lingo, and became so good at it, that everyone thought I was a speed freak. What a compliment, eh? So, when a cool guy offered me a line of speed at a party, thinking it wasn’t my first … I felt so complimented that I had to accept. Are you surprised that I was a natural? They couldn’t believe that it was my first time. And that made me feel like I was good at something. Good at taking drugs? What a talent.