I remember those first days. I remember shivering, sweating, both boiling hot and freezing cold. I remember sleeping drenched in sweat, having to wash the sheets daily because I soaked them. I remember horribly broken sleep–sleep I tried to encourage by drinking, sleep I woke from craving another drink at 3 in the morning, 4 in the morning, 8 in the morning.
I remember shaking hands and uncontrollable coughing that often lead to throwing up. I remember alphabetizing things in my head, over and over, attempting, feebly, to get my brain to focus on anything but the need for a drink. I remember reading and re-reading the same paragraph once, twice, five times and giving up because sneaking in there, instead of the words on paper, was the thought: IS IT TIME NOW?
I remember the pounding, horrific headaches and violent vomiting when I had to much or too little, and not knowing if my body was telling me to stop or to keep going.
I remember wishing I’d never heard of alcohol. Hating it. Hoping to pass out and never wake up because I wasn’t worth the oxygen. I remember drinking like it was medicine, forcing myself because without it I couldn’t function. Without a drink my heart threatened to beat right out of my chest. Without a drink I couldn’t string enough thoughts together to speak coherently. I was too busy shaking and worrying to form paragraphs. The only thought that went from beginning to end without interruption was “Where? Is there wine there? Are we going to dinner somewhere with wine? Do I have any more hidden around the house? In the art caddies? In the laundry? Under my socks? Hidden outside by the hot tub? In the snow bank near the garden boxes? Am I all out? How can I be all out? How can I get more? Will he notice I switched the bottles? Can I afford it? Will he see I spent more than the grocery money?”
How utterly exhausting. How defeating. How awful. How all-consuming.
I went to a detox facility for 3 days to get sober this time. I couldn’t do it on my own and knew it. I am so grateful that it was there, that I could sober up safely.
I am so grateful that I found that kernel of hope, that *somewhere* in my bloated and broken and utterly heartsick self I knew I owed it to my family and to myself to try one more time. To try hard. To chance it.
And then, what a gift, I found that if I poured myself into sobriety and recovery and hopefulness and loving my life and trying, just trying, a little each day to be happy…I enjoyed life sober. I could still learn. I could still hope. This old dog could even learn new tricks.
Now I can meditate. I can pick apart problems and find the root, and if it needs it, I can dig that root out and make sure it doesn’t come back. At least not in that fashion. I can ask for help and guidance and stories and support and I can ask for some love and some positive encouragement. I can ask because I know it’s ok to be worthy of someone’s time. It’s okay to be part of a community and feel included. It’s OK TO BE SEEN.
Sometimes life is a series of hurdles. Sober and actively seeking recovery, I can jump them. Sometimes I need a hand up. But I find there’s always one there. A sober hand, a steady hand, a friend’s hand, an acquaintance’s hand, the hand of my husband, a small child, *my* children, the hand of another’s story, the hand of HOPE. I know there is hope out there, and in here.
There is hope for every one of us. No matter how shaky we are today, we can steady ourselves long enough to say, “Yes. I am worthy of this journey and this hurdle. I can do this. Thank you for helping.”
So if you’re shaky and new at this and you’re counting the next 7 minutes until the craving goes away and then the 7 minutes after that, it’s okay. There is hope. I’ll hold your hand. You’re worth it.