It should be a given that I am grateful for my sobriety, and usually it is. Today was a different story. Today was not a day filled with gratitude. It was filled with self-pity, anguish and regret. I was heading into town for yet another interview at a recruiting agency. As I got closer to the city I started to get the usual pangs of missing my job and I did my best to redirect my thinking to how I can move forward towards another position. It didn’t work. I thought about people I worked with and immediately began to mentally walk through conversations I wished went better, reactions I wished I never had and this sinking feeling of despair began to settle in to my stomach.
I went to the interview, walked through my portfolio and even found a few connections with the interviewer which were a nice surprise. I left the building hopeful and relayed some of the interview to my husband as I froze my ass off walking towards the parking garage. As I drove back down Route 3 towards Plymouth, I thought to myself “I wish I could just make this go away for a little while. I wish I could just have a few drinks and let this stress go.” I snapped out of that train of thought with brakelights unexpectedly in front of me and I slammed on the brakes both literally and figuratively.
The irony is what I think would ease my stress would exacerbate my woes to a whole new level. Alcohol and I are not good friends. It sets off a personality change that makes me into someone I can’t stand the sight of. I become ugly from the inside out and every ounce of rage comes out in ways that always cause trouble. And I can’t get enough. I can remember that sensation of craving in an instant and it scares me. I don’t have an ‘off’ button with many things and with this, the button is ripped out of the socket. When I was in college I would scare the crap out of people I hung out with. The whole idea of drinking socially is NOT to scare the crap out of the people you want to be around. You probably shouldn’t yell at them either or try to walk off with their boyfriends.
Yeah. I was THAT girl. The one who you would want to leave 5 minutes after the party started. The one who cried at 3am. The one you wouldn’t want your parents to meet. I still have memories come back almost 20 years after the fact and I shudder. I still have regrets. I still can be right back in that dorm making people miserable. I hate it. I wish my life turned out differently, and that I was able to act like a rationale human being. And these regrets have followed me, whispering behind my back and telling me that I am not a good person.
Today was one of those days as I drove by the State Street Financial Center and looked at the skyline of International Place. I was able to get to my usual friday night plans and immersed myself in other peoples’ experience, strength and hope. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t go tonight. If I had changed my plans like I almost did to go shopping. I needed to hear every word I heard tonight, and thank goodness I knew where I needed to be. I knew where I needed to be because twenty years ago, someone told me that the most important thing in my life was my sobriety, and if I had nothing but that, then I had my whole world. Somehow in spite of how low I have felt over the past 7 months, I haven’t relapsed. I may have had some serious ice cream and chocolate binges (sorry Jorge) but I didn’t give up what I have worked so hard for. I haven’t given up my second chance at life. Anyone who was around me when I was drinking knows how self-destructive I was. I truly was given a second chance.
So tonight after giving this entry much thought, I decided to be honest and say what I am truly grateful for: that I didn’t give in to that sinister voice telling me that a vanilla vodka shot sounded like a great idea. Instead, I went with the louder voice that told me my ass needed to be in a metal chair with a styrofoam coffee cup in my hands. I could have chosen a ‘safe’ topic and said how grateful I am that we had steak for dinner. Or how grateful I am for my family. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for those things. However today, for the first time in a very long time, I was in a dangerous place and unlike other people I can’t take a break from what is going on around me with a screwdriver. Or a pumpkin ale. Or any other drink that has come out since 1993. I have to walk through it. I reminded myself that one more time tonight as I sat amongst my friends, holding a styrofoam cup of coffee. At the end of the day, I have my sobriety, I have my dignity and I have my life.