Sobriety Is Not Always Going To Be Easy
Hilarious. I’m heading down the ramp to my flight terminal and walk past the Boston Beer Works sign. My first thought? Ugh, That would be nice right now.
What? I’m on my way to California to see the Ellen Show because of Sober Mommies and I’m thinking about drinking?? Who does that?
I haven’t struggled with the thought of drinking in many years. Have I thought about it? Sure. Do I sometimes think it would be nice to be able to kick back with my non-alcoholic friends and have a few? Sometimes. I imagine it’s not much different than someone who has lost his or her legs and fantasizes about the ability to walk again. Alcohol at one point was like that. I couldn’t make a move without it. The thought of getting sober was like contemplating the loss of a limb.
Alcohol was a part of me; an intricate part. It helped me make decisions, calmed me, and comforted me. It was always there for me, and it never asked for anything in return…
These are the lies I told myself daily. I needed to believe them in order to justify my behavior. I needed those lies to be true so that I could look at myself in the mirror and you in the eye. Once that illusion was shattered, I lost the ability to do both of those things.
This is my process; when I think about drinking being hip or trendy or cool. I think about all that it has taken from me. I think about all that I gave it. An old friend used to suggest that when we wanted to drink we should take all that was good in our lives and put it in the glass before we poured the booze in. That’s exactly what it would be like for me. Everything in my life would suddenly be saturated in alcohol, and then I would drink it all away until all I was left with was an empty glass.
I don’t drink today because it’s a choice. If I do, I know it won’t be long before it’s a necessity.
The passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman is a vicious reminder that all we have is one day. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been sober. It doesn’t matter how many people we helped yesterday. What matters is what we’re doing today. It saddens me to no end to see what the press has been doing with Philip’s memory. Posting pictures of him intoxicated, and some poking fun or making light. It’s not funny. Addiction is NOT funny. It’s a killer, and none of us will ever be guaranteed a lifetime of sobriety without continuous work on ourselves. Maybe they’ll come up with a cure for addiction some day, but I’m not holding my breath.
We may all have those times when the thought of a drink or drug sounds good, but that’s why it’s so important to support each other. I always have people to call if I get in my own way, to remind me that it’s just a moment in time. The thought, the desire to be like “other people” or “normal” will pass, and I will again be grateful for the endless possibilities future sober moments will bring.
I used to hear people say that they were grateful to be alcoholic and it never made sense to me. Today, I understand that I know answers to questions about myself that I never would have thought to ask if not for alcoholism. It’s kind of a gift. Through struggle I have found a life that I wouldn’t trade for a glass of anything.
Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.