An Alcohol “Evaporation” Story

Was there a defining moment to become sober *again* just 21 days ago?

It’s always a combination of things, but this time it was, in part, my awareness of my husband’s alcohol consumption.

When we met on a blind date, I was not stone cold sober-I had been sipping a drink in anticipation of his arrival to the barbeque.  When he walked through the door, there was an instant attraction. As we chatted, I felt a connection.  And then he suggested we go buy more beer.  I had no inhibitions and asked him to be my date at an upcoming wedding.  Then we had our first kiss, I wouldn’t define myself as drunk, but I definitely was NOT stone cold sober.  As we watched a movie with our friends, we were snuggled together.  At the time, I knew this was the start of something “different” than all the other guys I had met “socially buzzed”.  {We dated, with our 3rd wheel, liquor.}

After a few months, we committed to a future engagement, and I arrived one night, buzzed from a social event and he let me know, in no few words, that is was NOT OK to show up intoxicated.  It was “sobering”…and I actually attended an AA meeting the next day and declared myself a “Social Alcoholic”.  After the meeting, a girl approached me and said that she was mandated to attend for a DUI (I could very well understand that since this was not my first AA meeting… I had to attend years before for my own infraction).  She shared that until I told my story, she denied her struggles.  She let me know that I was a game changer for her.  Too bad I didn’t change the game for myself. I dried out for a bit….but then my fiancee welcomed me back with open arms– his drinking companion.

I was blissfully buzzed at my wedding.  I made love to my husband for the first time as a married couple…NOT SOBER… but I remember it. I didn’t black out (but there was that one night on our honeymoon that I can’t recall a few details).  We were newlyweds.  We were in love. I was happy.  I “overdrank” occasionally, but he was there to protect me from being too out of control.  He’d tap my leg under the table or offer me water.  (I didn’t really find that helpful or cute or loving for too long…and it pissed me off so much that when he tried to control me – I’d literally want another drink – I’d self sabotage).  Then the next day would be the apologies and shame.  Or I’d pull away trying to cover up that I may not remember snippets from the night before… I’d know that I physically had sex, but not remember much of it.

Then we decided to start a family.  I got pregnant quickly, but soon after I shared the happy news, things went wonky…and sadly miscarried.   I got drunk, because there was no reason to be sober for 9+ months.  That pattern continued.  I transitioned from being a “social alcoholic” to an “infertility alcoholic”.  I was willing to do anything to get and stay pregnant.  I met a homeopathic doctor that suggested I was “sensitive” to alcohol and that if I wanted to carry a child, I would need to give up booze, (and wheat, milk, corn, sugar, tomatoes…. )  I was sober for many months (didn’t really count), lost weight, felt better, but my mission was to become a mother. I wasn’t focused on how fabulous I was alcohol-free. A feeling I do remember is being slightly annoyed that my husband just kept on drinking when we were together alone… even when I was not.

It was a seven-year window of sober and not.  I’d give it up for the two weeks waiting for a pregnancy result.  I’d give it up for 6 weeks for Lent.  But…

After 8 miscarriages, a failed IVF, and 2 beautiful adoption experiences.  I found myself pregnant with my 3rd child.  Even though I was told he was not a viable pregnancy, I stayed sober on vacation.  Upon my return, At my pre-op appointment to tie my tubes and do a D&C, they found his heartbeat.  I had a “less than uneventful” but happy pregnancy, an incredible natural birth experience.  I had been nursing for 6 weeks (sober for almost a year) when I was offered a glass of wine.

I can still vividly remember the momentary pause when I pondered whether or not to continue a sober life…or dip back into yet another attempt at moderate drinking (surely I will be able to have just one drink like other people now that I have given birth – insert crazy face emoji).  I was able to refrain to a single glass (but wanted more) because I was nursing and had not properly prepared myself for “pump and dump”.  A little trick I got very good at in the months to come when I planned ahead to have some drinks.  Moderation was out the window…I mean if I”m doing to drink, and dump the milk I pumped, might as well get a good buzz and escape the Motherhood Monotony of 3 kids under the age of 4.  My husband had his drinking buddy back.

Hangovers with toddlers are NOT fun.  In hindsight, I was LESS THAN.  My husband was nurturing a business more than us, from stress/exhaustion/loneliness, I probably started nursing a drink while making dinner.  I did a good job of numbing without falling off the edge.  I only drank enough to go to the line in the sand between feeling ok and feeling hungover the next day.  I tucked an idea in the back of my mind, that NOT drinking is a better version of me….but didn’t want to address the need to stop.

I knew my relationship with alcohol continued to make me “less than my potential” as a human.  But it was what everyone in my world did.  My family, my friends, my colleagues.  There really wasn’t anyone who didn’t drink…unless they were pregnant…or dieting.

My husband is a big guy and can consume a lot.  I used to pride myself on being able to keep up with the guys.  I was starting to have fuzzier evenings… sneaking myself in without the babysitter seeing me drunk. There were some girl’s nights out when I didn’t check in by phone…and then had to have someone drive me home while I quietly folded myself into bed (like sneaking in after curfew as a teenager).  He knew.  Whether or not he’d address the problem was another story.  But it was becoming an issue.  I was clearly not acting like a grown up even though I was over 40 years old.

Then I started to have problems with perimenopause, obviously, I had hormone issue with all the miscarriages.  I gained a ton of weight.  I was anxious and miserable.  Drinking was not helping long term, even if temporary relief from self-medication gave a few moments of relief.  My relationship with alcohol was on again – off again.  I knew that the only moments in my life that I had regrets…were tied to alcohol.  Any mistake made while sober was easy to forgive of myself.  Not when I was drinking.

My daughter got diagnosed with celiac disease in October 2010.  I choose to become gluten free with her.  No more beer, whiskey, … I discover potato vodka, but I’ve cut back a lot.  I’m losing weight.  I’m feeling better.  My system is cleaned out and the holidays approach.  We had plans to go to dinner with friends, and I remember thinking that I was looking “way to forward” to drinks that night.  (RED FLAG).  All of our kids are being watched by the same sitter so we head to their house to pick ours up-I’m a happy drunk.  In the kitchen, I basically fall off my high heeled shoes – in front of all five kiddos aged 9-12.  It sort of woke me up to the fact that I was a model for adult behavior.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.

I spent the next 25 months living Alcohol-Free.  I just simply did it.  No AA.  No books.  I had many stressful life events and it was easy not to turn to a drink.  I had many celebrations that I enjoyed…and remembered.  Over 700 days of waking up and NOT being the slightest bit hungover. I chose to sample wine on a 50th birthday winery tour.  I can’t blame anyone else.  But my husband had a look of “glee”… a twinkle in his eye that “his girl” was back.  His drinking “life partner”.

From December 2016 – November 2017…another Sober Session.  Then another happy hug from husband when I drank some more.  2018 was a seesaw of sobriety and cocktails. The 100-day challenge that lasted only 40 days (now I’m not even keeping promises to myself).  I have strict guidelines for when and where I will drink the Summer of 2018 (only on trips -where all my kids are with me- and I won’t have to be called to go get them if needed).  I declare Labor Day another 100-day challenge.  And it is going great until my Father gets sick, and when it becomes clear he is probably going to die, I accept a martini offer.

We travel for a family wedding. It is centered on wine because the bride and groom are in the hospitality industry – that centers around alcohol.  I’m noticing my husband’s extreme consumption, paired with our relationship disconnection (that most likely accelerated with the death of my Dad)…and I know that we need to make some changes as a couple.  We talk in early January about being alcohol-free for 30 days.  It’s the first time that we will do this together.  He lasts 5 days.  I last 18, then he states he had a “challenging” day and deserves some wine.  We are going to a social event with a $200 bottle of wine.  I accept the glass…cause if you’re gonna drink…it might as well be the good stuff. I’m ticked off that I allowed him to derail me.

It becomes crystal clear to me – that I can NOT continue to accept my husband’s invitation to have drinks with him.  I had my last sip of alcohol on January 19, 2019.

1/19/19

I ordered Annie Grace’s book The Alcohol Experiment soon after.

The first weekend in February (last weekend) he asked if we were having drinks again. I said that I wasn’t and in our phone conversation he said,

“It will really bum me out if you never drink again”.

PAUSE – Universe on hold while we listen to a pin drop.

I will look back and remember this as a defining moment.  

I took a breath and calmly stated that I did not plan to drink again.  Ever.  

Later, in person, I asked him if he was going to be able to be in a relationship with me – if I chose never to drink again.  Let me make note that he’s an amazing guy, who has NOT done as much research that I have with:

…but he does love me and says he will support whatever I decide to do with my relationship with drinking.

I have to take a chance and share that I am concerned about HIS relationship with alcohol and that we will have to explore together how our relationship will move forward if he continues drinking when we are alone together.  I don’t give ultimatums or hard lines.  I just recognize that our old patterns are NOT working for me.  I do not plan to repeat them again, as I have over the years and most notable this last decade since 2010.

2019 = ALL ABOUT ME (everyone needs the Tshirt).  I’m encouraging my husband to do the same for himself.  I had my first meeting with a new Life Coach last Tuesday.  I like her.  I think we will do good work together.  It’s going to be a year of exploration.  I’m going to try new things in my relationships.  I’m searching out new communication skills.

My desire, interest, relationship…whatever you want to call it… with alcohol has DRIED UP. I’m simply NOT interested in it.  My brain has new paths.  I have new beliefs.  I love myself too much to poison myself.  I’m evolving and developing into the best person I can be.  I want to THRIVE.

The puddle that I used to love playing in… after a rainy day…even with the sun out too… it’s become smaller and smaller these past few years.

Now…It is evaporated.

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4 thoughts on “An Alcohol “Evaporation” Story

  1. My husband and I got sober together. We were drinking buddies for years and your entire story is familiar.
    I often thought that had one of us not gotten sober we would have separated. It’s too hard watching someone you love drink their,ice away, even if they are successful, reliable, high functioning. I had tried before.

    But we are divorcing now for other reasons. I’m disappointed that the person I have gone through so much with turned out to be a liar and a cheat, but I have spent 5 years embracing my sober life for me and this won’t stop me.

    You deserve the freedom sobriety brings. Maybe your joy will inspire him. Give it a chance. But do what you need for you.

    Hugs
    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Anne is so right. I just want to go there up front. Speaking from experience, I trust her words implicitly. And I have such incredible respect for your intentions in this post, I’m going to re-post it over at the web site I’ve been running as a type of AA service since 2014.

    You’re doing so well in your heart and mind… and isn’t that where the biggest battles are waged? Please don’t give up now, kiddo. You’ve got some very strong encouragement on your side.

    My wife and I, with 30+years of marriage and very nearly 9 years of sobriety, know that our sobriety comes before our marriage. That’s just the healing journey we’re on. Will our marriage survive? I certainly hope so. But not at the expense of sobriety.

    Blessings to you, kiddo.

    greg

    Liked by 1 person

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