Growing up, I’d always been on the alcohol = bad train. I’d seen the way alcohol affected mine and other people’s families. Then all of the sudden as I was leaving my teens, alcohol became such a part of my “lifestyle” and I just switched train stations. I’d say to myself: what’s a little drink on the weekends? I figured as long as I didn’t let alcohol run my life, as long as I didn’t “need it,” I was safe.
Fast-forward to late November 2020. I’d just come back to my ex-boyfriend’s apartment from a trip to DC. A couple of my pieces were showcased at the freaking Smithsonian Museum of American Art–yet all I could do was ugly cry and dramatically repack my bags into my luggage and leave my ex’s apartment because he’d essentially told me something I’d been avoiding for a long time: my drinking had become an issue.
I’m a diabetic with a history of epilepsy. While I always made sure to take my medication for both conditions, on the weekends I would become my own doctor and Google the best diabetic-friendly foods to eat before binge drinking. My doctor warned me that if I wanted to make it to 40, I needed to stop partying like I was 21! Yet it took a boyfriend to show me how bad it’d gotten. It was embarrassing as fuck! Part of me was angry because I hated that he took a special moment in my career and ruined it with the truth. But that’s the thing with this shit. When is a good time to tell the person that you love that his actions are having negative consequences in a romantic relationship?
That night, I had two options: get extremely fucked up and go make bad decisions on Grindr or go back home and face this 20-year-old demon.
I did the latter.
I wasn’t sure how to start. I tried AA but it just wasn’t for me. Because of the pandemic, all sessions were virtual and the religious energy was just too chaotic for me.
Through my job insurance, I managed to find therapy that focused on substance abuse–yay for the workplace that offers help and not shame. This should be a standard in all places of employment. I was put on this 3-week program where I basically had to show up to this virtual room every day for 3 hours a day. Rehab but from my room. Unlike AA’s virtual option, this program had 2 substance abuse-focused therapists with a little more control over the conversations. They weren’t necessarily there to censor us, but if you’ve been in a zoom meeting, you know someone NEEDS to keep the conversation going with some ground rules. Especially when we were all sharing such heavy stories about our substance abuse.
As of this writing, I’ve been 1 year, 4 months, and 26 days without drinking. The longer I go without drinking, the more I have to remind myself of the good things I’ve personally found rewarding about this process. It’s been nice spending Sundays outside of my bedroom! One must not get cocky though. As my therapist and my doctor constantly remind me, this is something one truly takes one day at a time. I’ve always used alcohol as my go-to reward for the challenges life throws my way.
But my body was like, girl, you better find a new way to reward yourself or I’m about to give up!
Sobriety is something that is working for ME and this is MY journey. But this is something I haven’t done alone. Shoutout to the folks who’ve been there from day 1 and saw the messy me that needed some time to address the issue.
If you’re struggling with substance abuse, know that you’re not alone. Fuck all that shame nonsense. Find the community that will support you in this journey. If anything, I am one DM away.
And lastly, just be kind to yourself. We’re all still trying to figure it out.