2 Years of Sobriety Almost Didn’t Happen

I didn’t ask for a free ride. I only asked you to show me a real good time. I never asked for the rainfall

At least I showed up, you showed me nothing at all.

Rain on Me – Lady Gaga ft. Ariana Grande

Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You are going to hate yourself. It’s not worth it!!

The words are rattling around in my head. It’s Saturday night of Labor Day Weekend. I’m standing in the kitchen, staring at the bottle of wine sitting next to my NA bottle. I just don’t care anymore. All I want is that wine, the real wine. You could mix some in with your NA wine. Hell, you could just pour yourself a glass. No one will know. DO IT! The voice in my head is now screaming at me. It doesn’t even sound like my voice. My heart is pounding. It literally feels like my blood is boiling. I’m truly at my breaking point…

How did I get here? Well, the simple answer is the snowball effect. Over the couple months leading up to the night of September 5th, minor events were piling up, my stress level continued to rise until it was off the charts.

Stressor #1: My school is continuing with remote learning and telehealth clinic indefinitely. Being in school physically with my cohort is part of my self care. The energy created by all of us together is strong. It’s palpable. It’s a constant reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing, what my goals are, and keeps the vision of my future clear in my mind. The hands on learning in our classes and clinic allow us to transform our knowledge into skills to treat patients. Hands on learning is literally the entire point of our schooling. Remote learning while possible and telehealth clinic while surprisingly beneficial is not sustainable or practical for a career in acupuncture. In-person contact is a crucial aspect for our ability to diagnosis, assess treatment progress and effectiveness, and to be a healing presence for our patients. I am unable to spend the majority of my last year with my classmates, teachers, mentors, and patients – the people who inspire, motivate, and encourage me. And there is a possibility my graduation date and my ability to become licensed and begin my practice will be delayed. However, I should emphasize I am incredibly grateful that all of this hasn’t been permanently or completely been taken away.

Stressor #2 and #3: My mom fell, broke her foot, and her cat was diagnosed with lymphoma in his bones on top of having IBS symptoms. Tuesday morning of August 18, after she was rushing to get ready and not dealing well with her own stress, she fell and broke her foot. The doctor put her in a walking boot and 2 weeks later, after a follow up with a specialist, she was put in a full leg cast that must remain on for 8 to 12 weeks. There’s about 15 or so steps to get into the front door of my mom’s house. No bathroom on the first floor. And just for added inconvenience the garage and laundry room can only be accessed from the outside, down another 20 steps. I’ve been staying with her to help but she’s very independent so all of this is not ideal. I adopted the cat for her three years ago, after a night of drinking – he was 15 at the time, living in a hoarders home and who no one would take. Well, the reason no one would take this cat was because of his IBS symptoms. And we have carpet. You get the picture. He requires a lot of care and the lymphoma is causing him to have balance issues. So, his prognosis is not good – stress for everyone.

Stressor #4: My own health issues. They really hit their peak in August to the point where I was physically, mentally, and emotionally at the end of my rope. I had a small surgery a couple of days ago that hopefully is the answer but at the time, I hadn’t gone to the doctor yet.

Normally, when I get stressed, angry upset or sad drinking isn’t even on my mind. I’ve gotten to a place where that is no longer a coping mechanism I desire or use. I have felt extremely comfortable in my sobriety and those around me trust that I will ask for help if I do need it. However, the night of Sept 5 was almost my breaking my point. And it was fueled by raw emotion and stress.

Josh, our friends, my mom and I are all leaving dinner. There is a girl sitting at the top of a ramp that goes into the parking lot – Josh asks if she fell, if she is OK. She starts bawling. The bartender comes out and tells me that her boyfriend and her got into a fight and he left her. She is alone. She knows no one. She is drunk off her ass. She is hyperventilating. She’s not a local and has no idea where she is… but she did remember the name of her hotel. I tell her to look at me and breathe with me, in and out. I get her breathing under control and long story short get her an Uber. It’s 7pm, still early and I hoped she will go back to her hotel.

But as I walked towards my car, I see the look on my mom’s face. She is upset over the fact that I didn’t have my mask on (I had taken it off on my way to the car) despite the fact we all just spent 2 hours in an enclosed space with a ton of other people eating dinner. We get into a horrible fight over it. Should I have put my mask on? Yes. Was I thinking about it in that moment? No. This girl was hysterical and alone and wasted. I was focused on making sure she was ok. My mom gives me the silent treatment and wears her mask for half the car ride home. She sprays the hell out of everything with spray hand sanitizer and yells at me in front of Josh. It was the straw that broke the camels back.

My friends are trying to get my mind off things once we get back to the house by playing card games on the deck. They are all drinking except for Josh, he is drinking ice tea. I go in the kitchen to get my NA wine and I find myself staring at the real bottle of wine next to it. It’s taking literally everything in me not to swap it out with the real stuff – physically taking everything in me. I’m standing in the kitchen and for the 1st time in a long time I want to drink. Fuck everything else. Nothing else matters to me in this moment… it doesn’t matter that I’m less than a month away from 2 years sober, it doesn’t matter that I got through my uncles death and 2 of my friends deaths in 3 weeks of each other, it doesn’t matter I’ve gotten through every holiday, every bad day, every good day, every moment in the past 700+ days without a drink. All I can think of is wanting to drink and get drunk. I go back outside with my glass and I can see on Josh’s face that he’s worried. When the night ends, I go to Josh and say “I drank my NA wine. I didn’t drink but I wanted to” and I tell him how much it helped that he wasn’t drinking, how much I appreciated it and the support he’s given me.

I don’t know how or why I was able to hang on to my sobriety that night but I am so incredibly grateful. To be in such a reactive state where there is no logic, no rationale, and no common sense, to be controlled purely by raw emotion is terrifying. Since September 5th, there have been even more stressors but you know what? There will always be stressors. There were always be excuses or reasons. But are they worth throwing sobriety away? No! Drinking on top of dealing with life won’t do anyone any good.

All I know is that today, I celebrate 2 years sober. 2 years of a life changing milestone. 2 years creating a better version of myself. It was a wakeup call for me to never take my sobriety for granted. I am incredibly grateful to be celebrating 2 years because it almost didn’t happen….and I’m so glad it did.

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