This post was originally published on May 7, 2015.
There are a lot of things I’d like to forget about my days in active addiction. Unfortunately, the things that I’d most like to forget are the same things that I most need to remember since they remind me of what life is like for me when I believe a drink could be the solution to whatever it is that’s bothering me.
There is no drink on earth that tastes as good as sobriety feels. Alas, I have a disease that speaks to me in my own voice and can tell me that I don’t have a disease. I don’t ever want to forget how bad it got for me and how bad it will be for me if I decide to pick up a drink.
Spring is in the air. Patio bars are full of people enjoying the weather and sipping on muddled cocktails, mimosas and martinis. Then again, I guess there is always a season or reason to drink. Cold beer sounds good on a hot summer day, bourbon goes great by a campfire in the fall and let’s not forget about hot toddies to keep us warm during those cold winter months.
Any time the thought pops in my head that a cocktail sounds like a good idea, there are a few things I force myself to remember:
Hangovers suck. It doesn’t matter if you get them once a year or every day; they suck. I woke up with a hangover day after day, year after year. They drained me of motivation and put me in complete survival mode. I’d do as little as possible to just to get through the day until I could have a drink to make the symptoms more bearable. The cycle sucked and was never ending. Headaches, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, fatigue, weakness and sweating are all things I will never miss.
I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I have spent (or wasted, I should say) in a blackout. I am sure there are many things that I have done that should have been included on my fourth step but don’t remember because I was blacked out. Waking up to run out to your driveway to see if your car is there and then spending your morning trying to piece your evening together like you’re Nancy Drew is miserable and exhausting. I used to write myself notes when I got home to remind me of things I would want to remember the next day, like if I made out with anyone, how I got home and who I ran into, among so many other details. Being able to account for every single hour of your life is something that doesn’t happen in active addiction.
Alcoholism had a way of allowing me to do things that I would never have done otherwise. I was constantly lowering my standards to meet my behaviors. I was selfish and self-centered, and my motives were completely self-serving. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it and would do pretty much whatever I needed to do to get it. Drinking depleted me of self-worth and that showed through how I treated other people and how I allowed others to treat me. I didn’t have self-esteem because I wasn’t doing anything estimable. My drinking took me to places without my permission.
Here are some feelings that were pretty common for me in active addiction: guilt, shame, remorse, desperation and anxiety. I was also restless, discontent, depressed, lonely, fearful, angry, tired, irritable, useless, demoralized, hopeless and miserable. And let’s not forget that ever-looming sense of impending doom. Addiction isn’t pretty and none of the feelings that come along with it are either.
Of course, remembering all of this isn’t going to keep me sober. There is a lot that goes into my recovery, but at least these can serve as reminders of what life was like not too long ago. Living a life free from hangovers, blackouts, bad behavior (for the most part) and all the shitty feelings that go along with active addiction? I’ll take it.