Every time I think about time in terms of a year, I think about the theme song from Rent. Which I’ve never actually seen but I know all the songs. Because I’m nerdy like that.
It goes like this……..
- Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
You get the idea. And while I’ve sung the tune a million times, I’ve never really reflected on what a year means. How those moments add up. Or, in some cases, don’t add up. At least not the way you planned. Last November I was at a major cross road. I didn’t realize it at the time, people rarely do.
Confession time, I drank. A lot. And while I plan on sharing more about my journey to sobriety at a later time, for now let’s just say if you saw me anytime between about 2015 and 2019, I was probably drunk, recovering from being drunk, or planning my next drink. And it was killing me. Literally. Blah, blah, long story for another day.
The point is, last November I knew something had to give. I wasn’t ready to give up my toxic, secret BFF just yet, I only wanted to take a break and set some ground rules. Boundaries if you will. Having tried this in the past, multiple times, I knew it probably wouldn’t work. So this time I tried something totally different. I had stumbled across this thing on Facebook called The Alcohol Experiment. I read about it, I thought about it. It was a 30 day program, all online, designed to just help you take a break from alcohol, evaluate your relationship objectively then decide how to move forward. No big deal, right? I bounced it around a few days, it was free but I was still hesitant. It was just a 30 day commitment. What was the big deal? I already felt defeated because I didn’t think I could go 30 days without a drink. Or even one day for that matter. I signed up anyway and began my Alcohol Experiment November the 1st 2019. I made it one day. And drank the next 18 days straight. But I kept on watching the videos, doing the daily work sent to my inbox and things started to click inside my head. I started and stopped over and over the next few months. I made lists and charts and plans. Fail. Fail. Fail. But with each failure, I learned something new. Something about myself, I took note of my drinking events and tucked them away under the “DO NOT REPEAT” file in my brain. Instead of mindlessly drinking, like I had been doing the better part of 20 years, I started mindfully drinking. And stringing sober days together. And every time there was a Last Time (and there were lots of them), I was unknowingly building a foundation I could finally grasp, pull up, and stand on.
Today, it has been 207 days since I’ve had a drink. I’ve lost 48 pounds. I feel like I did when I was 17, minus the hormones and emotional chit-chat of a teenager. My body has slowly repaid my efforts with health, energy and happiness. Emphasis on slowly. The first 2 months all I did was eat cheesecake and feel like a train ran over me. I slept. All the time. I had a lot of making up to do.
I wanted to share this with you because I think it is important, so very important, for people to know they aren’t alone. That you’re not broken, that if you’ve become addicted to alcohol, or anything else, it’s not a flaw, disease or disorder. At least, I don’t think it is. You have become addicted to an addictive substance. Plain and simple. It can happen to anyone at any stage of life. And hiding it, being ashamed of it, or pretending it isn’t true for you will never make it better. I hid it. I was ashamed of it. And I pretended for a long time it wasn’t true for me. Who wants THAT to be their truth?!? Not me. So I changed my truth. I stop being ashamed and I stopped hiding. My truth looks a lot different today than it did one year ago. And it’s a truth I am damn proud of. (Flying my freak flag here, watch it wave!)
The longer I am sober, the more I find I want to let other people know how tricky and dangerous alcohol is. Sure, a lot of people can have a few and head home unscathed. But there are also a lot of people who can’t. And over time most people find themselves drinking more and more, not less and less. A slippery slope indeed.
So I am just here to say, even though it’s deer season. And the holidays are upon us. And the election is a mess. And the Rona is floating out in space. And everything is amuck.
Today is the perfect day to make a change. Doodle a star on your calendar. Take a ‘before’ selfie. Write down a goal. Give yourself five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. You just might surprise yourself.
Each of these pictures were taken last November VS this November. I think you can work out which ones are which. Drinking makes you ugly. Inside and out. Don’t do it.
P.S. You should wear sunscreen, moisturize daily and remember…..water is really good for your skin. Alcohol, not so much.