Four years ago today, desperate and heartsick, I quit drinking. I knew I couldn’t keep on with it. It was making me too ill, too depressed, reclusive, isolated, labile. I cried a lot, life looked hopeless, I felt deeply ashamed.
But sobriety didn’t immediately launch me onto a pink cloud. Drinking had helped my chronic back pain, and when I stopped, the pain got worse. It also had given me periods of energy, elation, sociability that had gotten shorter and shorter as time passed, but without wine, they disappeared entirely. With daily blackouts and increasing subterfuge and shame, continuing to drink simply wasn’t an option; but quitting brought a load of problems to resolve that I’d been avoiding for years. I felt trapped.
It has taken a long time, but things are improving. The latest attempt to treat the pain with medical marijuana is showing promise, and if I can get to a place where being out and about for a few hours doesn’t do me in, I’ll be content. I think the marijuana is helping my mood as well–I find myself humming again, music is back in my life.
I’ve never been a patient soul. Had I known it would take four years to get to this point, would I still have quit? There wasn’t a choice. Drinking has its own momentum, you don’t stay in one place–and my life was consumed by it. From the outside, I looked pretty normal, but as I posted on a recovery forum this morning:
I don’t think I realized at the time how much my life revolved around it. Every day I got up with an acid stomach and trembling hands and shame and regret, swearing I’d never drink again. As the hangover passed, the strategizing began: what food would taste good with wine for dinner, what store wouldn’t remember my last big purchase, how much could I sneak into the garage without my husband noticing. Whatever else I was doing, obsessive thoughts about drinking were the background for it. I was enslaved, and now I’m free.
Or, as Bob Marley would have it,
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.