I Miss My Old Alcoholic Self

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I Miss My Old Alcoholic Self

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I’ve gotten quite familiar with grief over the past few years since losing my brother to a drug overdose. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance have flowed in and out of my life—much like the current of the ocean. Sometimes, the grief is calm and smooth and I barely know it’s there and, sometimes, it’s aggressive and angry and it’s all I can do to keep from drowning. It comes and it goes and I deal with it. I recognize it and, in a way, I welcome it. It reminds me of how much I loved my brother.

When Will died, I expected grief. I knew it was part of losing someone you love. What I didn’t realize is that grief is a part of anything you lose and I had to metaphorically bury the old me when I decided to try and get sober. As miserable as I was in active addiction, I was still going to miss parts of Active Addiction Allison.

I was 32 years old when I finally landed in rehab. I was quickly told that the Allison that walked through those doors was sure to drink again if I she didn’t change. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I have to become a completely different person if I want to stay sober?”

I mean, yeah, I get it. I didn’t want to be a raging alcoholic with loose morals and sub-par standards but, to be honest, that’s exactly who I had become. Alcohol allowed me to be okay with that and it worked for me for a good while. But it stopped working. Alcohol no longer took away my fear;  it compounded it. It no longer gave me that false confidence that it once did.  My confidence and self-esteem were lying on the floor, alongside my panties and my dignity.

I had been Active Addiction Allison for years, but Sober Allison? Who the hell was she? What did she like to do? How did she have fun? Who did she hang out with? So many questions and the answers didn’t come quickly enough for this immediate-gratification-seeking alcoholic.

Rehab was safe but that lasted only 28 days before I was tossed back into the wilds of reality. I walked out of rehab and right back into Active Addiction Allison’s life. I was in denial—the first stage of grief. I didn’t want to change my old playmates or playgrounds.  That first year of being sober, I hung out with the same people at the same places I had for the past five years. I frequented bars and hung out until 2 am drinking soda water.  I didn’t want to miss out on anything.

The fear of missing out made me angry—the second stage of grief. Man, was I angry. I was boring and I was bored. Friends stopped asking me to do stuff that involved alcohol and that pissed me off even more. The last thing I wanted to do on a Friday night was go to a 12-step meeting with a bunch of sober people who liked being sober and talked about gratitude and how effing happy they were. I didn’t fit in there either, which just took me to a place of bargaining—the third stage of grief. I came up with every “woulda, coulda, shoulda” and made deals with my Higher Power to just let me be “normal.”

After depression, the fourth stage of grief, came acceptance. I finally accepted that I had to change everything. I accepted the fact I’m a recovering alcoholic and I will never be someone who can control their drinking. I mean, what is this “normal” that I so desperately wanted to be? No one is normal. So what if I can’t drink like other people. In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t a big deal. And with a little time and perspective, I started to realize just how lucky I am. In fact, I’m grateful to be an alcoholic in recovery. The life I have today exceeds anything I ever thought possible and it has nothing to do with material things but with simply being comfortable in my own skin—something I never really experienced until I got sober.

I don’t think I gave much thought to exactly how I was going to change, I just did what I was told to do. I surrounded myself with women who had what I wanted when it came to recovery and listened to what they had to say. Eventually, miraculously, I started to change without even knowing it. I am sure my friends and family saw it long before I did, but what I noticed was that I felt better about myself. I was happy. I wasn’t making a lot of poor decisions and that made not drinking a lot easier. I didn’t wake up with fear and anxiety about the day ahead, and didn’t regret anything from the day before. I started to get a sense of calmness and that fear of missing out turned into a joy of missing out. I no longer wanted to be a part of a dramatic and chaotic life that was so familiar to me. I actually wanted to be a better person and I was slowly becoming one.

But…and there is a but. I still miss old Allison sometimes. I still grieve her. No, not the hopeless, miserable, self-destructive parts of her, but the “wild and crazy I do what I want when I want and think about the consequences later” parts of her. I miss jumping on the plane with not enough money in the bank and calling in sick to work because something fun is happening in Mexico on a Tuesday. What I don’t miss are the consequences that come along with such decisions and behavior. I don’t miss the guilt, shame and remorse that had become a part of my being. I don’t miss waking up morning after morning with a sense of impending doom.

I love being sober. I love the new Allison. Her life is better, but I’m an alcoholic and just because I’m not suffering any longer doesn’t mean I’m not still sick on some days. Grieving the loss of alcohol or the girl I was when I drank is just part of choosing to be sober. It’s nothing in comparison to grieving my brother, which I think will forever be a part of my life. But no matter what it is that I am grieving, the process is the same and acceptance is the answer.

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6 Comments

  1. As a recovering Alcoholic of 22 years, I really appreciate your blog. In fact, I love your tee, “Sober is the New Black!” I ordered one and received a confirmation email, but haven’t heard anything since. I’ve tried emailing and gotten no response. Can you please let me know when I might expect it?

  2. Pingback: I Miss My Old Alcoholic Self | AGReGate.info

  3. Hi Allison. My name is Julie. I just finished reading your article and I wanted to say, I honestly feel as if you took the words straight out of my head. I lost my husband a few years ago. When he was alive I remember that I liked taking pills (percs and Xanax) but after he died I never took the time to fully grieve his death. Instead I did everything in my power to not think about the fact that I would never see him again. So I started working more and more. A year after his death I had three jobs. I made sure that I was always busy so that my brain was always busy and never had a chance to think about him. On top of that, my intake of opiates and benzos grew worse by the day. I remember when he first passed away, I was only taking 3 percs a day. A year later I was taking 20 pills a day. I remember for the first 3 years I walked around in a fog . I wasn’t able to get out of my own head. I didn’t allow myself to go out and enjoy the things that I used to love to do. The last two years have definitely been the hardest for me. I lost my will to live, my depression has been following me around like a black cloud that I have never been able to escape from under. It got so bad that I actually developed agoraphobia. I quit all of my jobs & I just stayed home taking pills. I was afraid of going outside and God forbid having a conversation with somebody. I buried every emotion that I had. The only emotions that I was able to show was rage and anger. I was so full of anger and rage at him for leaving me all alone in this cold world after he promised he never would. Last year I moved on to any and all opiates I could possibly get my hands on. I NEEDED to constantly be high and I lost my best friend to the same concoction of pills that I have been taking, except I was taking three times as much as she was. That just added to my depression and my anger because now both of them are gone and I have absolutely nobody left on this planet. There’s nothing more I would love to do than to tell you that my story has a happy ending like yours did. I spent the last 5 years shoving down and suppressing every emotion that didn’t have to do with being angry. I’m sorry to say that as of today nothing has gotten better. I feel dead on the inside, I go months without going outside. I spent the last five years of my life recreating myself into this suicidal sociopath who would take 18 Xanax and cut myself just to see if I could still feel anything. The truth is I don’t know who the real Julie is. All I know is that happiness isn’t a word in her dictionary. All I know is that even though I’m a heroin addict I can’t imagine living my life without xanax. I could give up heroin as I have done in the past, however I can’t fathom living the rest of my life without my precious Benzo. They have literally become my best friend, the only thing I cannot live without. So I’m like an empty shell of a human being right now and I know that I would grieve myself even though there is nothing worth grieving. My birthday is in 2 months and I’m going to be 32 years old. There is a tiny little part of me that wants to be regular again. To give this thing called life another chance and give myself another chance, yet there’s a part of me that’s always thinking I don’t deserve it. I put in 5 years to become stone cold inside and as much as I truly hate to admit it a part of me enjoys the fact that I am this way. Every morning when I wake up & I open my eyes, I cry because God has given me another chance at life but I keep refusing to accept it. At least I know who I am now while I’m still an addict. The 3 questions that scare me to my core are, Who the hell Is Julie when she’s sober? Will she ever be able to live a happy and content life without her best friend and sidekick? Does she even want to try to find out or does she just want to continue to live the life she carved out?

    • Hi. I admire your candidness, your courage and your honesty. I pray that doors begin to open for you and you walk thru them. And I think you did a freakin’ amazing job at putting yourself out there!!!! In my opinion- you just did the first step……you know you are powerless over your “side kicks”. Keep on sharing and accept what comes from that sharing. Good stuff happens. I swear.

      • Randi,
        Thank you very much for your kind words. Thank you for your well wishes. I hope you are right. I pray that things still finally begin to get easier.
        Jules

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About Author

Allison Hudson

Allison Hudson shares about her struggles with alcoholism and life in recovery on her blog, It’s a Lush Life, and is a feature blogger on The Huffington Post. When not writing, she is working on the opening of Will’s Place, a sober living facility in memory of her brother who died from a drug overdose in 2012, that is set to open fall 2015.

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