Claire F. / 210 Days
Sobriety Date: April 10, 2006,
Sobriety Date: December 30, 2011,
Sobriety Date: July 14, 2016…
My drinking goes like this: long periods of sobriety punctuated with short, but extremely destructive periods of relapse brought on by my own self-harm behavior.
My name is Claire F., and I am an alcoholic. I am just a garden-variety drunk. I am the last of a dying breed—purist alcoholics. I didn’t use street drugs or abuse prescriptions. I didn’t get involved in drug culture because I am a snob. I never liked where I had to go, or who I had to hang out with to do street drugs. I guess my snobbery and ego saved me, sort of…
I loved a good frat party; the conviviality of intimate talk around a keg. The first glimpse into my illness occurred when the college town I was living in put a ban on kegs. The frat boys bought cases and cases of canned beer to compensate. With music blaring at a random basement party, I looked at all of those cases, and I thought to myself, “There is not enough beer here to keep me drunk.” I had thoughts like that before, but this time I realized there might be a problem with my drinking.
I drank until I failed out of college. I drank until I ruined friendships and relationships. I drank until my sober father suggested I stop drinking. At twenty-three years old, my party was over.
I grew up in a violent and destructive home, and all of those dysfunctional life skills carried over into sobriety. I had zero time and home management skills. I had zero financial and budgeting skills. I couldn’t interact with others without arguing with them. As a result, sobriety was hard—very hard.
I was four years sober, but totally unemployable, unable to enjoy my own company and $30,000 in debt. Yet, I consistently went to meetings in hopes that I would learn something that might help me. I was four years sober and the craziest I had ever been. So, eventually, I drank.
A year of relapse landed me in New York City, living with family, and trying hard to put my life back together as a sober person. Which, I did put my life back together. I got some marginal help for an on-going mental illness. I paid off my debt. I was getting back to a state of somewhat normalcy.
However, after a few years, old habits started to creep back in. My ego was back—again. My resentments were back—again. All of the reasons why I drank were back—again. After facing homelessness for the second time, as a sober person, I decided to kill myself. What the hell what the point of sobriety if I was going to be homeless? I drank two bottles of my favorite white wine, took a 90-day supply of my psych meds, and waited to die. Four years sober and the craziest I had ever been—again.
I didn’t die, but I couldn’t stop drinking either. The first suicide attempt occurred on February 5, 2016, and the second occurred on March 3, 2016. My short and self-destructive relapse ended on July 14, 2016, with another alcohol infused suicide attempt. I started my day count—again. I started to go to meetings—again. I started to live—again. This time I was also willing to learn.
Life isn’t easy, nor is sobriety. All of the relapses and all of the suicide attempts taught me this: Sobriety isn’t easy because sobriety is learning. Each time I reached out to active alcoholism, I was choosing ignorance. I was choosing to not be fully engaged in life’s experiential learning process.
Each day, I choose—again. Today, I choose to do this thing, this sober living and sober learning thing—again. Here we go—again…
Claire F. has been “in or around” sobriety for nearly 11 years. Her current sobriety date is July 14, 2016. In 11 years, she has learned that the party truly starts when sobriety begins. Sobriety is a “bridge back to life,” and she works hard at bridging the gap between newly sober and functioning adult. As a former marketing director, political hack, and mental health volunteer, Claire can’t really decide what she wants to be when she grows up. She now splits her time between recovery from alcoholism, recovery from schizoaffective disorder, and all the other rich beautiful life stuff. For more information and vlogs about her recovery from her mental health woes, visit her YouTube channel, Mental Health Mondays.