I have struggled for the past seventy-one days with how to talk about what I have been going through in my personal life. It is a strange experience to write publicly about your life. You expose your vulnerability and weakness in glimpses, turns of phrase, perhaps in a passing comment on a blog no one reads, but it is incredibly scary. You have the luxury to clean it up, polish the rough edges, maybe expose only a quarter of the picture. But the real picture, the full picture, you control.
I made one resolution this year--to make peace with my body. As I began this year, flummoxed about how I was going to do that, I realized that I had an incredibly skewed sense of self. It was skewed because I had such shame about the things I hadn't been speaking aloud. We are only as sick as our secrets. And I felt like I may be dying.
My last drink was a ginger mojito after a reading in Delaware on January 9th. I drank it quickly and obsessed on why everyone else was nursing their drinks. That is what drinking was for me, an obsession, a deep love affair. I was driving home, so I only had one, but I wanted sixteen, or maybe seventeen. I know now that no number would have been enough for me. When I got home, I popped a beer, answered email. I had no idea that the beer and mojito were my last drinks. If I had known, I would have drank more beers, or gone out to buy a bottle of bourbon, my drink of choice. But then, I knew somewhere in me, that perhaps those were my last drinks. Because every day I thought this is my last day drinking, until it was. January 10, 2011. That was the first day I didn't drink. Oh, I spent most of 2010 not drinking, and 2009, and 2008, if I'm honest, but even when I was sober, I had a drunk mentality.
On January 10th, I felt bad. It wasn't hung over, but I was withdrawing from alcohol. I didn't realize it. I thought I had a virus. It seemed absurd that I was detoxing when I was a moderate drinker. Then I googled moderate drinker. A moderate drinker is someone who drinks one drink a day. ONE DRINK? Who the fuck has only one drink? I asked myself. And then I realized that I was an alcoholic. I went on a trail of clicks through the internets about alcoholism, detoxing, hitting your bottom, sobriety, the twelve steps, lies. I learned more about myself in that series of google searches than I ever thought possible.
This has been by far the most humbling experience of my life. I was in deep denial about my drinking. As I uncovered the lies I told, I found more and more. Today, I am sharing at Glow in the Woods about my relationship with alcohol, its interconnectedness with my grief and my newfound sobriety. This was by far the most exposing and vulnerable post I have written about myself or my grief to date. For a while, I didn't want to write about it at all. I wanted to protect my drinking and my family and ultimately, myself. What if I drank again? What would you think? What if I really am not an alcoholic and I realize that eventually? But truthfully, admitting that I am powerless over alcohol has been the most important admission I have ever made. My entire life is different in the seventy-one days since I first googled "alcoholism". Every. Little. Thing. I know enough to know that I know nothing. I am taking life one day at a time. And some days, I take it minute by minute. I hope that you will stick around for this part of my journey, though I understand if you can't. Much love to all of you. Without you, I would not be able to do this incredibly hard work.