I’m that awkward friend that has “stopped drinking.”
When I use the term “stopped drinking” I mean I used to drink, and I really loved it, but for the good of myself and those around me, I chose to stop. It does not mean is that I was a crazy lush who started the morning with half a bottle of Jack in my coffee. I was still in enough control to make the decision to stop. It also does not mean that I wanted to, but that it was necessary.
If you were to spend much time with me you would know I have this funny sarcasm that intensifies and gets kind of hilarious when combined with alcohol. I’ve never been one to hold my tongue, or not speak my mind, but when I would drink it was like magic. I didn’t get mean and I didn’t get sappy. I just cared even less what people thought about me and laughed at it. I also had a very long history with alcohol and we were very comfortable together.
After my third son was born, I had a pretty rough bought with depression. It lasted a lot longer than it had with my second son. It was a lot deeper and darker, but the alcohol made it better. The worries seemed not as heavy and all of life’s other issues would go on hold when I drank. I was able to block out all the insecurities, all the uncertainties and all the guilt when I drank. I was happy when I drank.
I usually drank on the weekends with friends and neighbors. I would have a drink or two when we went to dinner. I especially loved a super cold beer when it was hot outside. It was as good as funnel cake at the fair. I was also taking medications for depression, but those did not come close to helping me feel as good as alcohol did.
Gradually, I started drinking more at home. It was usually in the evenings. All my friends were drinking wine, what was wrong with my little fruity rum drinks? I had three little kids that I was at home with all day, and I deserved it. It helped me to loosen up and relax after all. And if one drink helped so much, two would make me feel twice as good.
As I started to drink more, I felt like my wounds were not quite as deep as they had been. I felt like I was getting more rest, and rest was what I needed. When I was rested and not stressed I was a better mother and a better wife. Right? Contrary to what I knew to be true, this was how I felt.
And one day, everything came crashing in down around me. Everything. As things quickly unraveled while I stood still, watching my world crumble, all I could think about was that I needed a drink. I needed what I was about to endure to hit me when I was numb.
I remember that time well. I remember the world spinning and knowing I could make it slow down if I had a drink. I may not be able to make it stop, but I might could lessen the impact, if I had a couple of drinks. But, on one particular night, as I sat on the patio drinking my fruity rum drinks, I knew that I had to decide to go full on and give into the alcoholism that had been calling to me for so many years or I had to stop. It was time to decide who was going to win, Me or my addictive personality.
I looked at my sweet babies that night and decided that they deserved more than what I had been giving to them. I wanted to be around for them. I wanted their memories of me to be someone they were proud of and something they wanted to share with other people. I had not been that kind of mom in a long time. So one evening, late in the summer of 2012 I took my last drink.
At the time, I had not been honest with myself at all about where I really was. Not about the depression I was in, not about the guilt and shame I felt for so many reasons, not about any of the self-medicating I had been doing for so long. I really had no idea what I was in for when I stopped drinking. As I attempted to come to terms with my reality, without alcohol, I found that I sure could use a drink.
I would not recommend attempting to deal with the realities of addictive behavior in the order that I chose to, but I did not leave myself any other choice. Physically, I was sick. I could not eat. My digestive system was a wreck. I didn’t sleep. Mentally, I was miserable and hated everything about myself. I was depressed and my medications made me not care about anything. I was not hot, I was not cold. I wasn’t even warm. I was just there and I was tired of being stuck. Spiritually, I was completely empty.
Because I was such a wreck, I started to see a Christian Therapist every week. It felt good to tell someone everything I was thinking and feeling. I also started attending a Christian group therapy every week. And I went to a ladies bible study every week, along with finally “regularly” attending church on the weekend. I really didn’t know where else to turn.
Before I knew it I had created myself a full-immersion program with Jesus. That is what saved me. Every time I turned around, Jesus was waiting for me to come talk to Him, to talk about Him, to read about Him, to sing to Him, to just be still and know that He was God. I was finally INVOLVED in the relationship I had been in for most of my life. And that is when everything I started to change.
It took almost a year before my situation got any better, but I started to get better very quickly. I started to move to the place that I always wanted to be, but didn’t have any idea how to get there. When I started to get right with God, everything else started to fall into place. It is so odd to say, but I know that if God had not let me experience that tragic low I would still not be OK today. And I know for certain, it was God that brought me out of it.
So, here I am, 3 ½ years later. And that is my story of why I stopped drinking. I have not had a single drink since. It has NOT been easy. But it has been worth it. I had chemical reactions to stress for about two of those years, that I could feel in my head, physically, that would say, “This would be easier to deal with if I had a drink.” Now, even those have gone away.
I am also off all the depression medications. It was like coming to life again. It has often been very difficult to deal with life completely unmediated, but I am doing it. It feels good to really feel again. No matter what the emotion, I am glad I am getting to feel it. Again, I do not recommend taking things into your own hands, and you should always consult a Doctor when making decisions like getting off medications.
I share this with you to let you know that if you are in the numb, darkness that won’t seem to let go of you, it does not matter how you got there. What matters is that you don’t have to stay there. Immerse yourself in Jesus. Cover yourself in salvation. Accept the grace that He extends to you and take one step towards Him.
By the way, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I am still a lot of fun. Just a different kind of fun. I now have my priorities aligned with my beliefs. I have a lot more joy. I have a lot more love. I am more the kind of person I would want to spend time with, and not just have a few drinks with. There is a lot of fun that can be found in being the me that I was meant to be.