18 Years and Counting

Teenage me
Me (2nd from right) at about 15 or 16. The first night I drank a 12 pack of beer on my own.

It was 18 years ago today that drank alcohol for the last time. A lot longer since I tool any drugs. of the non-prescription variety. In one way, that seems like a super long time! In another way, it’s the blink of an eye. It goes by fast. Starting out I can remember feeling so vulnerable, I wasn’t able to hide behind the shield of booze and drunkenness any more. I wasn’t able to drink my feelings away. I felt raw, as if my should had been bared for all to see. Over time with a lot of family support, especially from my mother, I found my way. Now I tell anyone who wants to listen my life story! I do it without apology, without judging myself and with compassion for the most part. When I think back to my daughters first 10 years I still sometimes get a stab of guilt, but the truth is she had my parents as her backup and they were fabulous with her.

I was recently asked if I had any advice to that girl of 18 years ago.  I answered, quite honestly that I didn’t. I was angry and shut down. Depressed and unwilling to see. I had to open my eyes on my own, no one could do that for me. When the show Intervention came out I was sober, and even then would absolutely cringe at the concept of being confronted in that manner. It’s like I could feel their shame spreading through me, could feel their shock at realizing they hadn’t been hiding anything from anyone. I also felt deep compassion for the addict. People had tried to talk to me, I rejected them. Simple as that. Wipe my hands of the problem in my life – those who cared. That likely isn’t everyone’s experience, but it was mine and is probably someone else’s too.

There were a couple of people who took different approaches with me. One was a friend who told me she loved me, but couldn’t watch me doing this t myself. She said “I will do anything with you except drink”. I never saw her again. I’ve looked for her since, but can’t seem to find her. She probably married and I don’t know her married name. I’d love to hank her for caring for me so much.

I wish I had great words of wisdom for getting away from addiction. I don’t. I do know that once you make a decision to quit, you have to be ever vigilant about that decision. Never forget that you are an alcoholic or addict. It’s then that we let our guard down and end up in a pretty rough position. So now, even 18 years later, I remember what it was like. How much my life has changed since that decision.

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