Saturday, by the grace of God, I’ll be celebrating seven years of sobriety.
It should be more.
When I used to drink, I could never imagine a life without it.
After my sophomore year of high school, I stopped for a number of years but only because I attended a running camp at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and the head of the camp, an accomplished runner, said that alcohol can hurt the body’s ability to recover. He also said it can lead to runners packing on extra pounds, which decreases efficiency.
I desperately wanted to be a fast runner so that made my decision very easy. Unfortunately, at the end of my competitive college career, I went back to drinking because, well, I wasn’t becoming a professional runner so I didn’t see the point.
For a number of years, I drank in a way that, surprisingly, was somewhat socially acceptable. It still confounds me how I was able to blend in, even going out a few times a week, usually having five or more beers.
I didn’t drink and drive or physically hurt anyone while drinking so maybe that’s why I was able to stay so under the radar, but to those who really knew me and loved me, they knew alcohol and me didn’t mix well.
I had acne on an off since high school and often times I would be so self-conscious that I didn’t feel comfortable until I had a couple beers. I would obsess over any imperfection and convince myself that every person I met was making fun of me.
One time I remember being at the dermatologist and they told me abusing alcohol can lead to bad skin. Despite that knowledge, I refused to listen because what was I going to do, stop drinking? No way.
Another issue I’ve dealt with since high school is insecurity with my significant others. I’ve internalized any failed relationships to be a reflection of my value as a person.
One of the first times my eyes were opened to the impact drinking was having on my life was when an ex-girlfriend told me she liked me better when I wasn’t drinking.
Here I was, thinking that alcohol was making me more likable, a lie behind which I hid.
Ultimately drinking got in the way enough that I took the steps necessary to remove it from my life and by the grace of God, it has been for many years.
I realized that, like I said in an earlier post, deep down I always believed I was a good person and I had simply grown to accept that occasionally drinking too much was par for the course.
I accepted a certain amount of chaos because I just wanted to be comfortable, not so self-conscious, not so insecure. I wanted to be like how I thought everyone else was.
I was afraid that I’d be alienating myself if I tried life without drinking, but deep down I always knew it was the best thing for me.
The other day I was playing golf and I missed the green with my shot, as I often do. My friend said, “You’re short of the green, not in the bunker.” This was consoling to hear because I was worried the fate of my ball was even bleaker.
As I walked down the fairway I kept repeating his words, short of the green, not in the bunker, and smiled.
That’s exactly where I am.
I’m still on guard, there is still work to be done, but I’m making progress.
I know who I am and who I am not.
I’m still uncomfortable, self-conscious and insecure but I’m so much stronger.
Now I can’t imagine a life with drinking because, for me, it’d be settling for occasional happiness instead of lasting joy.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading and special thanks to those who have helped me along this road of discovery and recovery.