At the beginning of the end, much like I knew when I quit eating meat, stopped smoking, and started running, I felt it happening. But, true to form, I dragged the end out because I have never been very good at change. I always want to cling onto the way things were, because I'm always worried that the way things will be won’t be as good. I have always had a difficult time being present focused. I have existential crisis finding meaning in the moment. I have infinite melancholy for the past, and extreme distrust of the future.
I can count the times on my hand from last December that I drank in the inevitable march to sobriety, and it is crazy to me looking back at the beginning of the end. The advent drinking calendar of my December 2013 included:
December 6-9th: VIP clubbing in Scottsdale with my friends and random men, who purchased bottles of Dom Perignon, not to drink, but to spray over us. It felt important at the time, but feels empty and soulless looking back.
December 11th: My company holiday party, where we painted a mural, drank, and went to a bar.
December 13-16: Vegas…enough said.
December 28th: I sat at my regular bar, for the last time, for hours, day/afternoon drinking.
December 30th: Drove to Michigan and drinking with my friends as they mourned the loss of their mother.
December 31st: Hosting a New Year’s party with alcohol, as my husband, trying to carefully balance his fragile and new sobriety, relapsed.
I’m sure there are more instances in there, though that seems like a lot already, but those are the drinking days that stick out. And it’s overwhelming for me to think about how truly stubborn I was as the bitter finality closed in on me. Each of those times, it got harder, emptier, and lonelier, but I thought I was stronger, smarter, and faster. It is pathetic and revolting to reminisce on that now, but sparks nostalgia, nonetheless. I was a little kid, throwing a temper tantrum, refusing to become a grown up, because in my whole life, I never knew what that meant. I wanted to escape into a fantasy world that was better than my reality, and that is perhaps the most remorseful piece. That I was afraid of real life because I didn't know how to deal with it. I imagine myself looking into my own reflection from a year ago today, realizing that there was nothing beneath those forlorn eyes. It was empty. The lights were on, but no one was home.
I initially gave alcohol up for a very different reason than the one I stay abstinent for. At the onset, it was all about Jeff. But now, it’s about me. No excuses, no bullshit, no façade. I’m sober because I need to be sober to live the happiest and fullest life I can. I’ve been really jittery over the past few days because I think it’s taken me an entire year to get to this point and I'm overwhelmed that I've arrived. I’m no longer counting days. It feels like separation, a physical break from that empty little girl. I barely knew her then, and she’s completely unrecognizable now. It’s hard to look back in the rear view mirror and watch her standing there, lost and empty, beginning to fade away. She’s simply not built for the places I am headed. Though I never want to be her again, she’s an important part of my story that I can't ever afford to forget. She'll always be tucked away, in a corner of my mind, reminding me of the gratitude and beauty that I've finally been able to find in this life.