Magz Shores / Sober Courage / October 15, 2014
My sober journey began 10 years ago…
When I walked into a church basement to attend a 12-step meeting, with every intention to never, ever, pick up a drink again. Yet, I spent the next four years trying to figure out exactly how to do that!
AT THAT POINT IN MY LIFE, I WAS A DAILY DRINKER, and was desperately trying to figure out how to drink responsibly. Unfortunately, once I put alcohol in my body, I never knew what would actually happen — my deep desire, and honest promises to self, that I would not get shitfaced this time, often went out the window. In addition, I had already been to detox several times, I spent ten days in jail after a DUI arrest, and I couldn’t keep a job. Three months prior I spent a week at a mental health hospital after a drunken night and threatening my ex with killing myself if he didn’t let me drink. Now he had taken our daughter and had filed papers with the courts requesting sole custody.
I WAS ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATED. But I could not see that he was doing the right thing! All I saw was an angry, hateful man who had a vendetta against me. How dare he take our daughter! I didn’t see that my drinking was the issue and I was sure that I was not an alcoholic! I just had a shitty life, and shitty stuff happened to me, and if you had my shitty life you would drink like me too.
AFTER THE COURT-ORDERED EVALUATION FOR CUSTODY PLACEMENT, I had a choice to go to a 90 day inpatient treatment or an outpatient, indefinite treatment. Well, of course I couldn’t go to the inpatient treatment, because I rationalized that if I wanted to drink, but not that I would of course, but just in case, maybe, if I just wanted to, for a special occasion you know… I wanted to have the option to drink open. So… I chose the outpatient treatment. I spent the next 22 months in treatment center which I attended from 9 am to 12 pm, Monday through Friday.
REHAB WAS HARD. I was in a room with “real” addicts and alcoholics, and I felt that I did not belong there! In reality, I was in a huge amount of denial and I wasn’t ready to get sober. Yet, I desperately wanted to see my daughter again, and get my ex and the courts of my ass! So I had no choice, I had to at least try to stay sober. For the first few months I struggled horribly to stay sober, but the daily morning breathalyzer kept me from taking the chance. During the counseling sessions I just sat there thinking that would get me by, until one day my counselor stated that if I do not commit to some progress she would not be able to give the courts a favorable report. So, little by little I started opening up. The daily 3 hour counseling sessions were starting to get through to me, and I was starting to see how my drinking had taken me to a place in life that I have never imagined. At the same time, in a group setting I could always find a member whose life was much worse than mine. After all, I was educated and smart, and owned a condo in the prime suburbs of Washington, DC! I was paying bills and had a job — well some of the time. But I was definitely not living under a bridge, or drinking out of a paper bag wrapped bottle of vodka, and this precisely was why I was not an alcoholic!
NEVERTHELESS, I STARTED GETTING SOME SOBER TIME UNDER MY BELT and I began to feel optimistic. Things were really looking up; my self-esteem had come back, and my life troubles were working out. But after a few months of the sober joy, I completely forgot how bad things actually were when I drank. So I decided to try some controlled drinking on Fridays and Saturdays. In the beginning it was just a few glasses of wine, then I would get drunk, but not too drunk; I was controlling how drunk I was, by just buying what I thought would get me to a nice buzz, but not obliterated. I thought that this was an ingenious plan and each one of the times that I did not get drunk, I felt like I controlled my drinking just perfectly – see, I didn’t blackout and nothing bad happened – I do not have a problem! But of course, lying about drinking to the counselors at the rehab the entire time.
LATER, SINCE I WAS CONTROLLING MY DRINKING SO WELL, I figured that I could drink on Sundays too, but only if I stopped drinking by 8pm, because I had read somewhere that it took 12 hours for the alcohol to leave your system. This seemed like a perfect plan! So I started drinking one Sunday morning but I don’t remember the day… I don’t remember going to bed either. This time the plan didn’t go so well… I showed up at rehab at 9am on Monday and had a positive breathalyzer result. Everyone was notified of my “relapse,” and I was put on probation — ugh. I guess drinking on Sundays was a definite no-no, I thought!
DESPITE TRYING TO MANAGE MY DRINKING THROUGH THE FIRST YEAR OF REHAB, I did get some time in sobriety, because whatever controlled drinking I was trying out, it was eventually failing, and I was then forced to stay sober anyway. So not being able to see any other way out, and wanting so desperately to get out of this crazy situation, I actually remained sober for 6 months, and finally graduated from the rehab. Ha! Who does that! Of course, not an alcoholic! Then, and after completing all court requirements for custody of my daughter, the court granted my ex and I joint custody. I felt great! It is finally over; I could finally return to my life!
I STILL DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO BE SOBER, I mean I did… sort of… just not all the time… maybe some of the time, but the rest of my life!? Hell NO! What I really wanted was a third option — there had to be a third option…