I had ten months of sobriety. Then I didn’t. For the last seven months I have been stumbling. The first time I took a drink after ten months, I was four months into quitting zoloft. I had been taking it for anxiety. The first few months, I felt great, but then the anxiety started creeping in. It was spiraling thoughts in the middle of the night keeping me awake. Then, the drink started calling to me. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the rooms. I felt like the more I thought about not drinking, the more power I gave it. I felt suffocated by AA. I felt like I could take away alcohol’s power, by taking a sip and taking back my control.
In truth, I felt worse at ten months of sobriety, then I did while I was drinking. Each day kind of just ticked by. I had a sponsor who I really liked, but I didn’t want to call her if I felt like I would disappoint her. I hated telling her no, I hadn’t hit five meetings this week. I know most of this guilt was all in my head, but it was consuming me. I didn’t want to go to meetings. They felt like a punishment that I had given myself. It really messed with my psyche. Like there was never anything wrong with me until I decided to get help. I realize now that I was a victim of stigma. When I was drinking, no one told me I was drinking too much or that I should go get help. In a moment of clarity, I thought that there might be a better way to live. But, after ten months of sobriety, I thought, ‘what the hell did I get myself into?’
So, I picked up a drink. And another. The sky didn’t fall down. The mountains didn’t crumble. But I also didn’t feel like I had taken the power back from alcohol. I drank, then I got sober for a month, then drank again and over and over again. I don’t even know how many times I did this dance in the last seven months. It might sound tiring to anyone that reads this, but it didn’t feel that way. Every time I picked up and then put it down again, it felt like part of my journey. Each time felt a little different than the last. Like I was moving closer to something. Long term sobriety? Maybe. Only time will tell. As I’m writing this, I only have three days. But three important days that feel closer to the real me than those ten months did. I don’t want someone to read this as an excuse to drink again. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that everyone’s journey is different. Someone else might pick up a drink and never come back.
So, I don’t feel guilt or shame about drinking again. It is in our stumbles that we really get to know ourselves, when we dust ourselves off and get up again. But I do have a lot of fear. Fear of disappointing my sponsor that I lost almost three months of sobriety. I haven’t told her yet. I’m afraid that things will change between us. That she’ll feel like she needs to do more. I don’t want her to do more, she’s doing enough. Nothing she could have done differently could have changed what happened. I’m afraid she’ll want me to do more. I am already doing more, but I don’t want to do more AA. I’m doing more writing. I’m reading more sobriety blogs. I’m trying to figure out what should go into my sobriety toolbox. I’m still going to meetings. I think they’re helpful. But I don’t want to go to more meetings. I’m still calling my sponsor every day. I’m going to tell her tonight. If she has time to talk. Part of me feels like this is my secret to tell, and it’s okay to wait until I’m ready. But, the other part of me knows that I have to let it out, that my conscience won’t allow me to pick up dirty chips. So, I have to tell her. I am not in control of her reaction.
I’ve made a promise to myself to stay sober for one year. I will figure out the rest when I get there. I have gotten up again and again and again. I have learned so much from every stumble. I’m hoping that these lessons will help me get there.