Adversity is so subjective. Every one of us could rattle off at least a dozen things that we’ve experienced in our lives that have taught us to be more open and alive. But there are only a few of them that truly drive us to our knees, and make us think we may never stand up again. These are the gems. They take us down so that they can build us back up, little by little.
Secrets run deep and even after being sober for several years, I still have a difficult time saying the word alcoholic. Telling people I don’t drink feels more palpable than admitting that I spent eight long years, drawing the shades and numbing out. That kind of honestly typically brings the conversation to an awkward halt. To this day, the battle continues with my co-dependent tendencies to ease others discomfort and wrap it up into a more benign package.
Drinking was a very private thing for me. I preferred to keep it behind closed doors. Once I got sober, it was clear that others had no idea. I cleverly kept it under wraps. I would politely turn down invitations and come up with excuses to maintain my time alone, to hide out and mask my discomfort. I would never call anyone in the evening. After a few drinks, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation without someone catching on, so I kept the door locked and my pain in check.
Wine was my drink of choice. Sipping it from my elegant Riedel glass made me feel like an adult. Fabricated sophistication. I was living alone for the first time and longed to feel a sense of comfort. I would light a candle and pop the cork, knowing that I would soon slip into a state of ease that I was unable to attain on my own.
I was in my 30s when I started to sink deeper into my addiction. I was coming off the tail end of a complicated and confusing relationship. It had gone through many stages for over a decade and needed to come to an end. I had to disconnect to maintain my sanity. The heartache and guilt I felt by cutting this off was all consuming and I slowly began to unravel.
I always thought I would stop. In fact, it haunted me every day. I would never keep more than one bottle at a time in my apartment. Honestly thinking that each day would be the last time. That the end was near. Waking up in the morning with a sense of dread, I would think, this is it. By 5 o’clock all bets were off and I was back in the game.
Addiction is a formidable opponent. It puts us in a headlock and strong arms us into submission. Its up to us to find the resolve for one fleeting moment, when we’re begging for relief, to muster the strength to wrestle it to the ground, take it by the scruff of it’s neck and kick it out the door.
For me, that moment came one uneventful morning as I struggled to get myself out of bed and simply decided enough was enough.
I’m forever grateful that I found the courage to finally win the fight.