I was out after work with two girlfriends, catching up as we hadn’t seen each other in about six weeks. They asked me, “How’s that going?”, referring to the fact that I’d stopped drinking, and wanted to know how long it had been. I replied that I had my last drink on Feb 1st, making it just about 8 months. They, meaning well, told me about friends and people they knew who had “fallen off the wagon” around this time, because they felt “comfortable enough at this stage to think they could just have one.”
I tried to explain that for me it is not about a time frame. Its not about the number of days, or weeks, or months without alcohol. It is about what stage I am at in my understanding and acceptance of the FACT that alcohol and my body are not compatible. I explained that the way my body reacts to alcohol is similar to the way the body of someone with an allergy, say to shrimp and lobster, would react. My friends pointed out that some people with shellfish allergies still consume lobster because they love it, swollen tongues and chest pains be damned. They had a point which led me to explain further.
Aside from coming to terms with the fact that I physically react differently to alcohol than other people, quitting drinking for good is also about coming to terms with and understanding the emotional and spiritual relationship I used to have with alcohol.
“I didn’t stop drinking because I couldn’t stop drinking. I stopped drinking because it became clear to me that I had a hole in my soul that alcohol was making bigger.” Mended Musings
It is about realizing and recognizing that once the clarity sets in, (you know what I’m talking about), all those issues and challenges that drinking ‘helped’ me to run from will surface and nag me until I face, deal with and accept them.
It is about being able to, for the first time, hold myself close and repeat to myself: “I am not alone. I am taking care of Me”, and truly loving myself now and the girl I used to be. It is about helping the girl I used to be sort through all those difficult life changing challenges she faced, and tried to deal with the wrong way, for the greater part of two decades.
While I will never underestimate the power of that escape route I chose for so long, what I have learned and gained, is worth so much more to me. That is something that cannot be explained and perhaps none of the people in my life can truly understand. But that’s okay. I love them for trying to understand but I know that they don’t have to. Because to me, as much as it is not about time, it is also not about what I can get others to understand. It is about celebrating the second chance I’ve been given, and that I’ve given to myself and knowing deep down that I can’t take that away. This decision and this journey are about finally saying: “I am worth it. I deserve having this life that I want. I deserve to take care of myself and to treat myself well,”
and meaning all of it.