A sliver of light broke over the horizon as I poured myself into bed this morning; happy, clear-headed and completely sober.
I did it!
I officially attended (and survived) my first typical adult party without consuming so much as a drop of alcohol. Sure, I have been out and about with friends who were having a few drinks, but this was my first sober all-nighter.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn't even sure I was going to go until the very last minute.
Social awkwardness was just one of the laundry listed items of reasons I drank. In my effort to find a blog to link this to, I found a post that perfectly sums up my social anxiety, each one ringing true for me especially in my sobriety. (For that well worded insightful blog click here)
At any rate, as it turns out, alcohol didn't make me less awkward, it just made me feel ok about how awkward I was. Really, that's a crap excuse when you break down the statistics of alcohol affecting anxiety. (Read more about social anxiety and alcohol here)
So now, pile that awkwardness on top of sobriety, and I stick out like a sore thumb in any party. I mulled over the decision all day.
I suppose I should mention, it wasn't just a random Friday night get together, it was a birthday party for a friend; a family member, rather. This person has become a pretty integral part of my life throughout the years, starting way before my alcohol addiction. Plus, I can hit his house with a rock from mine, that's how close we are in distance.
All signs pointed to, "You should at least go say, Hi,".
I was scared of what was going to happen, how awkward I would feel when I would avert my eyes from the booze, but, with some coaxing, I finally walked over.
It wasn't difficult for me really. When the smell of whatever tequila filled my nose, a jolt shot through my body. It burned on the tips of my fingers and struck heavy into my soul, but it wasn't a desire to drink that hit me; it was disgust.
My entire being cringed. For one brief moment I wasn't even sure if I could handle it. Not that I was going to cave, but that I was going to be physically ill.
I now know that I won't ever drink again; that my body won't allow it even if my head could endorse it. There is zero doubt in my mind that I have kicked this addiction. However, I believe I am still in recovery.
I may have beat my addiction over alcohol, but that doesn't mean the wounds are healed.
After being hospitalized with liver failure, visits with my doctor and specialists became so frequent they all began to blend together. My wallet filled with AA numbers and sober living facility cards that, like doctor visits, blurred together with indistinguishable ad lines. Everyone pushed me to get into a support system to try to keep me from the drinking that almost killed me.
"What happen's when everything is ok again? Like when things are good, and you feel better?" asked one of the specialists. I found it hard not to scoff in my response.
"I didn't drink myself nearly to death because everything was ok." I chuckled, more to myself about the thought that someone could happily party themselves to death.
That any addictive behavior almost resulting in death would be for sheer joy, rather than masking deeply seeded and undealt with pain would be news to me.
Slowly but surely I am disarming and dismantling this addiction that almost killed me; and whether you realize it or not, being at that party was a huge step. (More about being your own champion here)
I've had countless dreams (nightmares, more than anything) this past year where I find myself at a party trying to reason with myself about how much or how little I can drink without dying. When I wake up I'm so exhausted and angry with myself for my brain even going through those thoughts that until last night, I was really kind of scared would come true.
Now I know they won't come true.
48 hours ago, I had no security in my reaction to being in a socially drinking environment, whereas now I know undoubtedly that I have the self-control to say no.
-Unlike in my haunting nightmares, there is no desire to drink therefore no need to rationalize any amount of intake. It's a 'non-issue.'
I can rest a bit easier knowing that I can rewire (with exercises like the ones listed here) my brain for new experiences. That the dreams I am having, might somewhat be out of the fear that I don't really know another way to 'party' than without alcohol is a small comfort. There is some peace of mind knowing that it's not that I loved alcohol, I in all reality hated alcohol.
It had however, become the sun of my universe that every activity centered around; to the utmost extreme. (I found a reference to "serial" shot taking similar to how I drank, here)
Although, that leaves a lot of room for new fear that almost everything I do is a brand new experience in the sober world; hopefully with time I will get beyond that fear.
It seems clear to me that I might have beat this addiction over alcohol, but dealing with the fallout is the real recovery process; one that might never be over.