Today, I reached a milestone in my life. Today marks a year since the day I stopped drinking. It’s been a year, but it’s also been a lifetime, the blink of an eye, a long sigh and small voice saying “I knew you could do it!’.
I didn’t tell anyone that I was stopping. I didn’t even tell my husband. I didn’t want it to be A Thing. I didn’t want to chance failing and having people look at me thinking “Ha! Remember that time she said she was going to quit drinking?” because people are judgmental dicks and they do things like that if you fail. I didn’t want to answer the repeated “Ohhhhhh are you pregnant? Are you trying to be?” questions that always follow up declining a drink because that’s the only reason you wouldn’t be drinking, right? After a few months, I slowly told one or two people, making jokes about being “Late-Edge”, but the momentum felt good. It felt like I had made the right choice for once. When I hit the six month mark, I was at wedding for one of my favorite people and I had the best time. I danced, I sang, I smiled, I laughed and I didn’t drink. Tiny victories. Small steps.
At one year, I’ve learned that those lists that always appear around the New Year, “I Quit Drinking for One Year and Everything Is Awesome!” aren’t quite true. My life did not immediately become easy. In actuality, it became much harder. I drank a lot to deal with depression, even before I knew I was dealing with long-standing depression. I drank to deal with anxiety and sleeplessness. I drank when I was happy about something and I absolutely drank when I was sad. I drank because it was Tuesday and the sun came up. When I stopped drinking, I had to deal with all the feelings I had been trying to suffocate. After years of trying to ignore and displace ugly feelings, now I have to feel them all of the time. It sucks, to be quite honest. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication has helped immensely, as has my incredibly supportive husband and friends, but it’s sucked having to relearn how to deal with things like a normal human being.
I did not lose a large amount of deadweight friends, thankfully. Most of the people who abandoned the S.S. Friendship boarded their lifeboats back when I had a baby. Apparently, babies are kryptonite to people who like fun. This actually worked in my favor because by the time I came out as sober, the friends that were around were friends that I knew were friends regardless of what I did or did not do. This is definitely not to say that I didn’t get the occasional “But, you’re not done drinking forever, right??” or “Ugh. I miss Fun Erin.” to which I patiently explain that Fun Erin may have been fun for you, but Fun Erin was torture for me.
I also did not quit drinking and magically lose all of the weight. I am not a lithe swan of a woman, but to be honest, I hated being a lithe swan of a woman when I was skinny and drinking. I’d much rather be where I am now, stress-eating and dealing with all of the feelings, but way more comfortable in my skin. I’m cool with my higher jean size and fatter ass if it comes with fatter self-esteem and the ability to validate myself.
This has definitely not been easy. My city is a city of Lost Boys and Neverland. It’s a city that encourages and glorifies those that haven’t grown up and don’t need to. It’s a city that loves to hold a fundraiser but can’t figure out how to do it without a bar. It’s a city punctuated by pitchers of mimosas at brunch every Sunday and dollar beer night and endless summer afternoons at the river with beers and that’s awesome. But it’s not for me. I can’t handle it and that’s ok. I’m slowly finding my way without it. In the meantime, if you want to hang out and play board games, go fishing, see movies, eat delicious food and make fun of everything, I’m here.
I’m still here.