There is always that one moment that changes everything. Some call it a lightbulb moment, some a moment of truth, or a moment of clarity. Whatever you want to call it, it is fierce and usually unexpected. It comes down to a realization about yourself, your choices, maybe even your future, and it is hard to deny and impossible to ignore.
I learned a frightening truth one day in an act of sheer desperation and fear. My hands were shaking uncontrollably, my head was pounding and I was sweating like crazy. I was hungover.
I drank every day, a lot, so my hangover was more a severe withdrawal after not having a drink for some hours. I could barely function on a daily basis and, every day, I felt like I wouldn’t survive another moment.
As my hands were shaking I felt like I was going to pass out. My head was literally throbbing and it hurt even to smile. I felt like I was going to pass out at any moment and I was cursing myself for drinking so much, and hating myself for letting alcohol control me.
I had these thoughts every day. Full of self-hatred, disappointment, shame, sadness, and more sadness. I knew alcohol was destroying me and destroying my life. But in that moment it was my only solution.
I stood for a moment contemplating the sadness in what I was doing, then I grabbed a bottle. As I lifted it to my mouth I thought about what a failure I was, what a fraud I was to all the people that cared about me and believed in me.
When the rim of the bottle hit my lips it was so perfectly cold and comforting. I felt the liquid go all the way down my throat, my chest, and into my stomach and I felt as though my life had been saved.
It was a blessing. It instantly killed the pain, took away my anxiety, and refreshed me like I was brand new again. After a quick swig I put the bottle down. Then I quickly grabbed it again for another swig, just in case the first one wasn’t enough. Then I went out to face my life, a whole new person.
That was my moment, I knew for real, I am an alcoholic.
Being addicted is not an easy situation to deal with or to understand. For so many years, alcohol really was the solution to my problems. If I was sad it would make me happy, if I was tired it would wake me up, if I was anxious it would take the edge off. Alcohol is so manipulative because it will give you whatever feeling you are looking for. It becomes your go-to solution. Until it isn’t the solution anymore.
After a long battle with drinking (a battle I lost, by the way), I finally threw in the towel and gave it up completely. Not only did drinking almost cost me my life, but I almost took another life in a drunken stupor. And that was enough.
Multiple arrests didn’t stop me, jail didn’t stop me, house arrest didn’t stop me, public humiliation didn’t stop me, my family was powerless, and I kept going. It takes that one moment. That single moment when you truly understand you can’t live like this any longer. My moment was more than 11 years ago and there isn’t a single piece of that life I miss. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and, it turns out, I’m a pretty good quitter.
I’m grateful for my sobriety and incredibly grateful for my journey. Even the terrible parts. But I am most grateful that I got help and I had people light the way for me. And that is what my whole life is based on now. Let’s light the way and make the path easier to see.