Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Why Quitting Drinking Was the Best Thing that Happened to Me
I sat on the driftwood looking out into the night, out to the ocean. I was twenty-one and having a quiet conversation with myself. I shouldn't be this angry because she doesn't want to drink with me. I shouldn't hate my best friend.
It was a simple thought, but a heavy truth. I knew I was in dangerous territory, especially because I grew up in an alcoholic home. Especially because I was lying to the man I loved, who was in another province, believing me when I said I didn't drink.
There were many times before this that should have been the reason I stopped. Times when I woke up with such shame, bewilderment and fear of myself. Nothing bad had happened to me this evening in Vancouver. It was just that thought, my soul speaking up. I didn't realize that night was going to be my last drink. I'm not even sure what day it was.
At first, I stayed sober on my own and my problems did get better, mostly because I wasn't blacking-out and creating more of them. But life didn't feel good. I didn't trust myself, so I isolated. I made my partner my higher power, because I knew I would be judged and shamed if I let my guard down. I didn't have a community, or support, and all of my issues that I was suppressing with alcohol came to the surface: anxiety, depression, trauma, rage. The insanity during those years is a story for another time, but all I can say is that I got sober and I didn't feel better.
What I know today is alcohol wasn't the problem, it was the solution. It was my treatment for the real problem of disconnection, abandonment, not feeling home in my own skin, wanting to die. There were many times that drinking made those feelings go away. Then it seemed to stop working and make the feelings worse. I was spiritually sick, trying to swallow my own soul and push it down, shut it up, but it wouldn't stop screaming we're not ok. I'm grateful for that part of myself today.
In 2009, I found support in a recovery group and dived in to whatever I had to do to get better. These people were sober and happy and I couldn't figure out how to do that, so I listened to them, did what they did. That is when everything began to change for me. I went from surviving to actually healing the things that were holding me back.
I have healed my need to be alone to be safe. I have healed my suspicion of other women and forged deep friendships. I have broken free from toxic relationships and avoidant attachments that re-opened my wounds of abandonment. I have travelled to amazing places on my own when I didn't think that was possible, because of crippling anxiety and being a "broke artist." I have expanded my voice in my artistic career.
I have tapped into my intuition and empath abilities and have found a whole new connection to spirit.
I continue to learn how to love myself and I have the connection in love I've always hoped for.
Most importantly, I am here. Really here, present and full of life. I know how to feel good sober, regardless of what is happening around me. And I am still healing, life is still challenging, but there is nothing in my life a drink would make better. I am still a beautiful work in progress, learning more about why I am here and what I need to do.
I didn't know what I was signing up for when I decided not to drink, and I was even more terrified when I really understood myself as an alcoholic, that I can never safely take a drink or other substance and maintain a happy life. What I do know is the immense suffering of reaching out for something outside of myself to feel different. I know the deep loneliness of comparing how I feel inside to the life I perceive others are experiencing. I know the pain of failure and falling short of who I know I am meant to be. I know none of this ever changes if I keep myself sedated.
Being an alcoholic is the best thing that has ever happened to me, opening doors to my awakening, healing and truest expression of myself. Recovery is an ongoing journey and I've walked this path alone and also in tandem with my some of the best spiritual badasses I could hope to meet. I am never doing it alone again!
If you're curious about living sober and how to connect to a community of like-minded people, there are many resources available to you. And if you're thinking that the way you're drinking now might be a problem, it probably is. There is no shame in reaching out for help. It might just be the best thing that will ever happen to you.