It was my best friend and my worst enemy. It gave me confidence and overwhelming anxiety. It helped create so many fun and exciting memories, as well as so many dark and shameful ones. I met new friends because of it and watched relationships end because of it. It’s what I constantly ran to, finding comfort in its warmth and reassurance, while simultaneously trying to repeatedly free myself from its tight, painful grasp.
I was in a toxic, abusive relationship with alcohol and rode the merry-go-round of its lies for over 10 years. The morning of December 14th, 2019, I finally found the strength within to walk away from this destructive demon. I sat cross-legged on my bed, head throbbing, tears streaming down my face, after yet another night of letting one glass of wine turn into a blacked-out night of regret.
I was in a torturous middle zone. I was afraid to keep drinking because I was watching as it destroyed parts of my heart and life again and again and again. But I was just as afraid to stop drinking because I knew it meant ditching all I had known for so long. It meant grieving the death of an old life that would never know again.
Those ensuing days, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to follow through with this decision of mine to stop drinking. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I could. After all, this wasn’t just a “Dry July” or “Sober October” cleanse. This was a forever thing. A no-looking-back, all-in, full-force, complete 180-degree change.
Alcohol was my social crutch. It’s what I clung to in big or small gatherings of people. I had convinced myself that it made me outgoing, funny, attractive, bubbly, and all-around likeable. Who even was I without alcohol? What was my life going to be like without it? Would I lose friends? Would I be boring? Would my boyfriend still want me? Would I have to miss out on everything? I felt scared, sad, angry, and alone.
But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, going one day at a time. I knew that God had brought me to this place for a reason and that He wasn’t going to abandon me. Or at least, I really, really hoped He wouldn’t.
So, I continued making the decision over and over to not allow this poisonous liquid to touch my lips. I continued to go one holiday at a time, one dinner with friends at a time, one boat ride at time, one camping trip, one date, one happy hour, one evening on the patio, one vacation, one celebration at a time.
Fast forward to today, and I have continued to make this same decision each and every day. And wow, am I forever grateful. I’ve watched as my world has blossomed back to life. I no longer wake up with hangovers and crippling shame. I no longer say or do things I don’t even remember. I no longer mask my true emotions by covering them up with alcohol. I no longer rely on a liquid substance to give me confidence. I no longer am a prisoner inside my own body.
Not every day of sobriety has been easy—there are definitely hard days. Days where I wish I could just fit in and be like everyone else. Days where I collapse to the floor sobbing. Days where I’m uncertain of when I’ll be completely healed from my painful breakup with alcohol. Days where I feel so alone in this fight.
But every journey of growth and transformation has its valleys. And I just remind myself that this is okay, this is part of the beautiful process. I remind myself of all the doors that have opened in my life because of my decision to stop drinking. Of all the magical mornings and conversations and laughter and connection and experiences I’ve had because of my decision to stop drinking.
I walked away from my relationship with alcohol and started a new one with myself. One of love and forgiveness and grace and compassion. One that I will continue fostering every day for the rest of my life. I can look in the mirror, smiling, and say, “Beautiful girl, you can do hard things. I love you. I am so proud of you. Keep letting your light shine.”