It happens periodically, where I find myself face-to-face with alcohol; either in restaurants, parties or other random social settings. Actually, it seems to be rather unavoidable in this day and age.
I would be naive to think that I could navigate the rest of my life completely avoiding alcohol. However, I've become ok with this fact.
My sobriety wouldn't be that strong if I needed to exclude alcohol from every scenario I am introduced into. Obviously, I personally don't partake in the drinking, but that doesn't mean no one can. I don't want to be intoxicated, but that doesn't mean I think everyone has a problem.
How successful could my sobriety possibly be if it hinged on other people's ability to abstain from drinking when I'm around?
-the answer is not at all.
Now, don't read this and take away from it a green light to start hanging out in old circles of friends who still use -that is most definitely not what I'm saying.
Shouldn't we be striving for the life where we no longer even want to drink (or use)? Isn't the goal to create a life where we feel happy? Aren't the end game goals to be at peace without the self-sabotage of our addiction?
When I found myself in such a situation last night at a Christmas party, I did the only thing I know how to do; I started talking.
I told a few close people, "I'm not thinking of drinking, but I just need to be honest about my feelings." My mom was among one of the few that I verbalized this too. I went on to explain my feelings of wishing to maintain my sobriety. That hadn't changed. Although I now found myself feeling something familiar but new in my sobriety. More or less not wanting to feel like I'm 'missing out'. (See, that pesky FoMO gets the best of everyone)
I did feel better after speaking it out loud. Knowing that I could speak honestly about it without judgment was empowering. There was a certain power in honoring those feelings by acknowledging them verbally, without actually acting on them.
When I was done talking, we hugged and went on with the rest of the night.
Quick and painless
It's usually only in these situations when I see other people functioning regularly around alcohol that I even begin to think about it. Typically just long enough to wonder why the ability to moderate myself was so difficult. Everyone else makes it look so easy to stop when they've had enough.
I don't ever miss drinking though. Not in the sense that I knew it. I will never miss trying to piece together events with fragmented and blurred memories. Sometimes I do feel bad that I couldn't handle my drinking or moderate myself before it sent me into complete liver shut-down.
-but, I know now, without a doubt that I wouldn't change the way things have happened.
When I say, I don't want to drink, I honestly mean it, and I'm happy to say I stood firm in my sobriety last night. Even though for a brief moment I knew I could, and it would be very easy to waver. I am so proud that I didn't.
My life, alcohol-free, is the best it's ever been and I wouldn't go back in time for any amount of moderation in exchange for that.
Yes, I might be a horrible addict who let their addiction get so bad it almost took my life. I'm also the same person who can stand up and give it the big middle finger with a wide grin on my face.
Now, I don't let addiction rule my life.
Now, I'm the strong woman who fought her way back from liver failure after roughly ten years of an alcohol addiction.
Now, I'm the person who doesn't need, or even wants, to stay constantly inebriated in order to look in the mirror and face myself and my past.
Now, I'm sober.