I used to spend my halloweens planning an array of revealing outfits so that I could milk the holiday as much as possible and get drunk for a week straight (or more). Now that I’m sober I’m perfectly happy handing out candy at work today. 🎃
Last night my boyfriend took me out to dinner to get my mind off of my cat (and because we hadn’t had a night out in a bit). Our waitress started off by immediately coming over with a bottle of wine and offering us a sample. Out of habit, I almost said yes; but I caught myself and slowly said “no thank you” and ordered a water. Brandon accepted a sample, and then the waitress looked at me and said “is it because it’s a dry wine? Because I can let you sample another kind.” At that point I was like really dude? I already said no thanks. So I said politely, “no I actually don’t drink” and she looked at me like that wasn’t really a thing. At that point I really wanted to say “I’m a recovering alcoholic who’s newly sober CAN YOU PLEASE BRING ME MY STUPID WATER.” But I just kind of stared at her instead. When she walked away, Brandon said “I kind of thought she was going to try pouring the wine into your mouth because she was so insistent that you try some.” At least I wasn’t the only one who felt like she was being pushy.
In the end we both laughed about it, and I later shared the story with one of my close friends who is also in the program. Her response was so perfect that I had to share it.
My point here, I guess, is not even that people need to be more sensitive or whatever, because no one needs to go around worrying they’re going to offend everyone. My point is more that if someone says no to something, that should be enough of an answer. No need to ask 60 times until I throw my AA chip at you. As a person who works in retail, I know she’s trying to up sell us to ordering wine, but again, if someone says no, that should be a good enough answer.
I mentioned in my first post about how I have suffered from anxiety since I was very young, which always made me feel awkward and alienated in social situations because I didn’t know how to act and it always felt like everyone thought I was super weird (I was). So when I got into drinking, I learned how to make friends by being the social party girl. It was a lot of self deprecation and being a crazy hot mess, but I still made a lot of friends. However, when I got sober, I lost most of those “friends”. Now I’m 25 years old trying to figure out how the fuck a weirdo like me makes friends. My boyfriend doesn’t get how someone who used to have so many “friends” all of a sudden can’t figure out how to make any. I’ve met a lot of people through AA, but I still feel like I haven’t been welcomed into anyone’s friend circle, and I never get invited to do things with anyone I meet at AA. I’ve made plans with people a few times, but it’s never been reciprocated.
I guess it’s something I’ll learn with time. I’d rather take it slow and find actual friends who accept me and love me completely as I am. For now, I guess that’s what cats are for!
I recently posted about acceptance, and I honestly do believe that I cannot stay sober or put myself back together unless I fully accept my alcoholism and am up front with people about it. I’ve told my close friends and even posted a couple of articles on Facebook about addiction and recovery. But, I’m human, and recovery is a process. I’m still learning to accept who I am and not be embarrassed or ashamed.
Tonight my boyfriend came to a meeting with me, which was amazing. But after the meeting he casually mentioned that one of our “couple friends” asked what me and him were doing tonight, and he was honest and told them that he was going to a meeting with me because I’m an alcoholic in recovery. Now, these people don’t know me THAT well. We’ve only hung out with them a handful of times, and during all of those times (surprisingly) I drank but was under control. All the people I’ve told so far about me being in recovery have known me when my drinking was really bad, so it somehow felt easier telling them about it because they understood and were relieved that I got help. This couple, on the other hand, was probably really surprised and didn’t understand, since I was drinking with them just a couple months ago.
I know he didn’t do it maliciously, and I know I should be more confident in myself and my sobriety, because it’s already making me into a better person and giving me my life back, but I just can’t help feeling “outed” in a way. Of course now my fucked up brain keeps thinking things like “well, there goes that friendship” and “God now they think I’m so weird.” I’m sure they probably don’t even care. I guess this was a lesson to both me and him; for me, it’s that if I’m going to preach acceptance, that I should probably learn to take my own advice, and for him, that someone’s recovery is theirs to share and it’s up to them when and how they want to disclose that information.
I’m not sure if you’re all familiar with the app Timehop, but basically it links up to all your social media and shows you what you posted on this day in previous years. So today, this little gem popped up on my Timehop. Three years ago today I went to a bar crawl where I blacked out and ended up breaking my finger. How? I have no fucking idea. I had to tell the doctor and nurses that I don’t remember how I broke it, which at the time seemed hysterical, but now it just sounds so ridiculous and stupid.
Thanks Timehop, for reminding me daily why I no longer drink.
The first month or so of sobriety was really tough for me. I’m sure it is for most people. For years I had been shoving my emotions deep down inside me and masking them with a combination of alcohol and an IDGAF attitude. So when I got sober, all of the anger, sadness, self hate, anxiety, fear, and guilt rushed at me full force. I felt like a crazy person. My boyfriend didn’t know what to do with me, and to be honest, I didn’t know what to do with me either. I’ve always been horrible at having the feels, and now I had them tenfold.
Doing the first step made it worse. Writing down and admitting to my sponsor all of the ways alcohol had made my life unmanageable and how I was powerless over it, brought up a lot of repressed memories of awful things I said, did, and saw when I was in the height of my partying. I felt like the most awful person in the world and spent a couple weeks wallowing in my self pity. “How did this happen,” “when did I become this person,” “this is so unfair,” and “why me” constantly swirled around in my head. I couldn’t believe that this was my life and I had to be an alcoholic and spend the rest of my life being weird and sober. I was so ashamed and I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t even tell my family right away.
Finally, after reading the stories in the back of the big book, I came across this paragraph about acceptance (I believe it’s in chapter 18?). When I read the sentence “nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake,” it immediately made sense. All of this was happening for a reason. That was the first passage I ever highlighted in my big book.
I still didn’t feel better though. I was still wallowing. I saw so many people at meetings that were so happy and free and I kept thinking, “okay, any day now this will start working.” I asked my sponsor why I was still miserable, and she said to just keep working the steps and keep praying.
Slowly, I found myself accepting my life as a sober alcoholic, and began to own it. I told people about it and was met with overwhelming support. Slowly, things started to get better. Life started to fall into place. Acceptance was (at least part of) the answer. I know I have a long way to go still, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.
My name’s Cate and I’m an alcoholic.
My sobriety date is July 19, 2015, but I didn’t say those words out loud until almost 3 weeks later at my third AA meeting.
I suppose I should start off by telling a little bit of my story. Growing up I always had this overwhelming feeling of anxiety, and I couldn’t understand why. I was afraid that people wouldn’t like me, afraid to be myself, afraid something bad would happen. So I tried to control everything, and freaked out when things didn’t go exactly as I had planned in my head. I was a basket case. Normally, parents would probably notice that their child was struggling with something and take them to a doctor, but my parents had plenty of issues of their own they were trying to deal with. So I continued on, always feeling anxious. As a teenager, I decided that because I felt so awkward and weird and different, that if I could just make the popular girls like me, that would prove that I’m worthwhile. So I jumped through every stupid hoop they gave me, while they picked apart everything about me and made me feel so small. To this day I don’t understand why I tolerated that, but I did.
When I went to college, I vowed things would be different. I would find real friends. Up until college, I had never really drank. I was afraid to get drunk in high school because I didn’t want to give the popular girls something else to say about me. But in college I was going to be different, so I tried it. And I LOVED it. Alcohol and I were a match made in heaven. When I drank, all my anxiety and fears went away, and made room for me to finally be myself, be the life of the party. I quickly made many friends, and I finally felt at home. But within the first year of drinking, I already started to see the negative affects. The blackouts, the unwanted sexual incounters, the embarrassing actions, the awful hangovers. But I would just laugh it off over brunch in the dining hall and thought that it was just a small price to pay to be able to be myself. My junior year of college, my parents went through a very messy divorce. I had a younger sister who was still in high school, who was an hour and a half away from me dealing with this all on her own. And then I had my mother calling me daily crying to me. And I was the one who had to hold everyone together. This is when my depression fully kicked in, and my drinking increased even more. I spent my entire year blackout drunk, and the few times I was sober I was curled up in a ball in my bed crying. At the age of 21 I was finally sent to a psychiatrist, who prescribed me the antidepressants that pulled me out of my oblivion. I resumed my normal life in my senior year, ready to be the fun, carefree party girl again. In January of 2012, I was coming back from a concert and crashed my car. When the police officer came to see if I was okay, they immediately asked me to step out of the car. I took the field sobriety tests and failed miserably, blowing a .12. I was immediately arrested, and taken to a holding cell until I was sober enough that my parents could take me home. You would think that would have been the wake up call I needed, but less than a week later I was at it again.
My drinking continued after college, where I found a group of friends who loved to party just as much as I did. There I was introduced to drugs, which I thankfully never got addicted to. For the next 2 and a half years after college I partied every weekend, had incredibly dysfunctional relationships, and couldn’t hold a job for more than 6 months. In the fall of 2014, something happened that to this day, I can’t explain or begin to understand, but I am forever grateful for. I met a guy, on tinder of all places, who was nothing like any guy I ever dated. He was incredibly sweet, had his shit together, was slightly nerdy, hilarious, good looking, and for some reason was interested in me. I was hesitant at first, because I was terrified he would see the real me and take off running. I knew nice guys like that had no business with girls like me. But he opened my eyes, and for the first time in my life, I started to realize that my excessive drinking wasn’t normal. We had many fights about me not controlling my drinking, and I almost lost him a few times. Everything came to a head in July 2015, just 11 days after my 25th birthday. I got blackout drunk with my friend and then proceeded to drive to my boyfriend’s house. In the morning, he was fuming. He asked me what would have happened if I got arrested again for drunk driving, and I didn’t really have an answer. He told me that he wouldn’t watch me continue to ruin my life, and that if I didn’t get help he was done. So a week later I went to my first AA meeting.
I’ll save the details of what AA has done for me so far in my 2 months of sobriety and end with the real reason I’m making this blog. I’ve noticed the lack of awareness about addiction and mental illness, and it makes me incredibly sad that something so common in our society is still so taboo. If there had been more information out there, I may have sought help earlier. At first I just wanted to document my experiences in sobriety, but now I think that if my story can help just one person who is suffering, it will be worth me writing it.