30 years and 10 days old. Sitting on the couch with Jen – I’ve made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. This has been something I’ve said I wanted to do, should do, and even have tried to do. However, I put a limit on it. I did it “until” something. The last time being when I was waiting to find out if I was accepted to nursing school. I was sober for approximately 10 weeks straight. I remember feeling clear minded, more in control. If i was accepted though, I’d obviously celebrate with wine. I was accepted, and I drank the wine…and then more. I started school – which was a 1 year accelerated bachelors in nursing program, it was rough. I am not sure how I created “free time”, but when I did, it was spent planning another outing. Most likely a party, or to a bar. I’d study with wine or beer sometimes, even. I guess you could say I thought it was just “something you did”. Being an adult = being able to choose when I can drink.
Rewind my life several years. In high school, I think I got drunk one time. I didn’t like it. My goal then was not to be a rebel and party. I struggled elsewhere. I battled with the feelings of not being accepted or fitting in. I came out at a young age as “bisexual”. I still did not quite understand the internal turmoil of what was right or wrong – or what was real, and what wasn’t. From as early as I can remember, caring about what another person thought about me – who I was, how I behaved, what I was doing in every day life – completely drove my day-to-day actions for the most part. I still to this day compete with the better part of my brain that their opinion DOES NOT MATTER. But how do you just stop caring, or more-so, worrying?
Some days, the thoughts of not being good enough, or people not liking me for me just completely consumes my brain. My thoughts often lean toward craving validation from others. That I am a good person, or nurse, or partner. Isn’t it human nature to need that support? However, having just entered a new decade in my life, I am striving for something new. I am surrounding myself with the awareness that I, in fact, am enough. I will not tolerate belittling who I am for the sake of others. I am attempting to be more in tune with being present, listening to others – instead of selfishly bombarding my brain with what they are thinking about me. I’m just going to be me. Period.
Let me introduce Carol so then it is clear as to why she is retiring. She is a tired, insecure, verbally assaulting antagonist who comes creeping out when I have alcohol in my system. She can squeak through with a mere “buzz” when provoked, or she can stay latent until I’ve reached a point of no return – AKA: blackout. That’s right. She’s my alter ego. The name Carol was started as kind of a joke between my sister and brother in-law…until it wasn’t very funny anymore. With my underlying emotional/mental health quandary – Carol comes out with a vengeance – to defend only God knows what usually. She’s unfair, unruly, and blatantly just mean. Don’t be fooled, she does not always make an appearance. Sometimes when I drink I am happy go lucky, excitable…and that is an issue in itself. Because when that happens, it causes me to push the envelope. It makes me feel like I’ve found my “good drunk” side. However – I know I will truly never have a side such as that. You never know when Carol will unfurl – and when she does, she isn’t ever sorry – I am.
So this is where I draw the line. Who is better in control of our own actions that ourselves? No one. Sure, I’ll probably always like the taste of a good beer or wine. But is it worth the uncertainty? If it may put my well-being and happiness on the line? No. It isn’t. I love my life. I have an amazing fiance, dog, friends and family. In fact, some have said before that they prefer who I am while sober. I am now at the point and the realization that I, myself, prefer me 100% sober. I am confident in that. I want that. It is going to be a road of learning how to maintain friendships with some of the people whom I normally spend time where alcohol is the main ingredient between us. If it is “friends” like that who I’ll lose, then that’s OK. Gratefully, the closest friends I already have and my family, I know will support my decision. They will encourage me, and pick me up when I am down. I will keep building those relationships. I have a positive feeling that this will also keep my [less than] year left of planning our wedding the most truly felt and real experience. I cannot wait to marry Jen and create a forever life with her. I am extremely lucky for her eyes that see my potential, and for her ears that hear even the quietest messages of what I really need in my life. Which is the here and now, It is becoming sober.
This is Day One. Welcome to the adventure. It is going to be full of discovery, clarity, and love.