I had supper with my daughter last night to celebrate her Dad’s birthday and as I was remembering our years together I suddenly dawned on me that TODAY, April 15th – Tax Day – is my sobriety date! Pretty amazing to me that I really don’t think about not drinking any more. In fact I don’t think I have even paused to remember that this is a significant day in the year, other than it is Taxes Due. I guess I haven’t focused on staying sober for so many years. It is just part of my life that I don’t drink alcohol. Not an issue, not an urge, not a problem if other people want to drink, just I don’t and haven’t for a long time.
WOW, how long is 28 years! I can recall back to the early days of not drinking – I don’t think I really ever went with the Being Sober label. I guess I don’t feel like I have a SOBER personality so that label didn’t stick. I was Not Drinking, that felt right. But in those first few years it was really a challenge. Mostly in social situations where the rest of California was enjoying wine and wine tasting adventures, and talking about wine, and I wasn’t. I remember how tired I got of drinking fizzy water when I would go out with girlfriends after my divorce. Glass after glass and they were getting happier and I was still just me.
At any rate I wanted to write in my new daily blog challenge and reflect a little about this 28 years. First to acknowledge the photo I posted for yesterday. Bob’s 45th birthday party at Marin Joe’s Restaurant was the night of my last drinking bout. I remember the next day, April 15th. Someone mentioned to me about my driving the babysitter home, and I was shocked. I had NO MEMORY of driving her home. That did it! My therapist (at the time I was in deep drama and had therapy once a week) had once told me a story about a client who, in a BLACKOUT, got on a plane and ended up in Australia. Well that story had hit home, and while I didn’t end up on another continent, I had definitely gone off the radar and into an alcoholic black hole.
That was it. I stopped my drinking that day, April 15, 1988. Mind you I think I had a horrendous hangover from all the various types of alcohol I had consumed the night before. People were buying our table drinks. My step son and his friend had dressed in drag and surprised the Birthday Boy, so there was quite a scene at the restaurant. At any rate. It was quite the eventful last hurrah for my drinking years.
When I look at my life today I can barely recall how disconnected and alone I must have felt and how my drinking let me travel outside that pain and loneliness for some time every day. Drinking was the great equalizer so that I could feel like I fit in, so that I could manage in social situations. I have some vague memories of some pretty terrible experiences where I was way out of control and ought to be ashamed of myself. But today I am not ashamed. I just feel such immense gratitude for whatever pulled me out of that dark hole and allowed me to make my way into the world I enjoy today. There are probably some bridges I burned, and I know I didn’t have the tools and insight to keep my marriage together, but today I really have no regrets. I don’t feel guilty or carry any blame or shame. It is like my teacher said, you will one day look back at your life and it will seem like a movie that someone else is starring in. The old emotionality is no longer tugging at me. That was then and this is now, where I live.
28 years. I could never have imagined my life without drinking in those first few years. I guess even writing about this is not so much for me as to offer some hope to another 41 year women who might read this, or even someone much younger who is ready to find another way. Everyone’s way is different but there are some pretty good paths to discover. I eventually found my way. It took me several years of bootstrapping it on my own, lots of money to my therapist, and my second divorce. But finally I got into a 12 Step program, and from there I found my spiritual home in Unity in Marin. Eventually I left my real estate business to start creating spiritual growth programs for churches, and then started a church in Berkeley where I was minister for 10 years before finding my current community in Oneness. Now I live in a worldwide spiritual community of amazing people, I feel so connected to them and to myself and to my Divine. My life is rich and I feel happy and joyful in my relationships. My children are very dear to me and while I do miss Bob, who passed away on Valentines Day 2015, I feel so much Love and Grace in our family and know that he is feeling this too on the other side.