If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you might remember about 4 years or so ago, I met Flea Market Guy. We met online and had the best first date ever. I was immediately sure that I could and would spend the rest of my life with him.
And then, PLOT TWIST, he turned out to be this selfish, woman chasing, Fireball shooting alcoholic who only cared about himself. It took me a few months to decide that I was not trying to stay in a situation that revolved around drinking and arguing and jealousy.
You may also remember that a few months after I said goodbye to FMG (Flea Market Guy) the Universe decided to play a trick on my phone and cross wires with another number to put us back in each other’s lives. But nothing had changed. He was still drinking. I still thought I could spend my life with him, but I also knew that I did not want the drinking part of him.
We fought, we broke up, we got back together. It was a vicious, vicious cycle. One that created half of my new poetry book and one that I was not willing to do for the rest of my life. And so, I was ready to say goodbye the day he decided he was ready to quit drinking.
If you’ve ever loved an alcoholic before you know that while their intentions are sometimes good, their words are usually lies and their actions are usually little to none, but as someone in love, you ALWAYS want to believe them, especially when they say they are going to quit.
We had done that dance over and over. So many times that I had fallen into the “if you can’t beat em, join em” trap and was meeting his Fireball with a bottle of my very own tequila. Sometimes nightly.
I realized later that it was so easy to accept his alcoholism because I had grown up in it. Drinking was a part of my raising. The smell of beer, cigarettes, perfume and coffee were the smells of the morning when I walked into my mom’s bedroom. The same way some kids remember their mom’s fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
Drinking was normal.
But I knew deep down, it was not the normal I wanted. I had managed to stay away from alcohol and its effects for most of my adult life. I raised my kids during the week and tried to be a good mom. Binge drinking on the weekends until I blacked out seemed like the responsible thing to do and I never correlated that to my own form of alcohol abuse. I was good time Angie. After a few Long Island Iced teas, I’d be ready to dance. After a few more, I’d be ready to sing karaoke. And after a few more, I wouldn’t really remember what I was ready to do.
As I watched myself spiral into drinking more and more just to spend time with this guy I wanted to love, I had this awareness that I could not continue down that road. Not financially. Not emotionally. And definitely not physically. I didn’t have the bounce back that I used to have. And I hated that morning after smell where my hair was laced with cigarette smoke and I could smell the tequila coming out my pores. There wasn’t enough toothpaste or a long enough shower to wash it off.
But like I said, the day I decided I was out was the day FMG decided he was done drinking.
Of course, I thought it was a lie. Even as I helped him load his whole apartment into his pickup truck and put it in storage, I was planning on walking away. When he asked if he could stay with me for a while and promised that he wouldn’t drink anymore, I thought he was just saying what he needed to say to get what he needed to get- the way alcoholics do.
But I loved him. And I had helped so many other people who meant so much less to me, I decided I’d let him stay with me until he started drinking again and then we’d just say goodbye for good.
So the day he quit drinking, August 23, 2019, was the day I stopped drinking too. And what we found over the next 3 years was this:
We like being around each other sober. I was so nervous that we wouldn’t even like each other if we weren’t drunk. We had so much fun together when we were drinking, I didn’t know if we could recreate that without alcohol, but we did. We are best friends.
We talk about important stuff. It’s not just about what stupid movie we are going to watch. We can get into philosophical debates and talk religion, politics, foreign relations, and aliens & ghosts and we never get bored with each other.
We can have moments of silence just enjoying each other and not having to fill the silence with words all the time.
We sleep better. Neither of us are throwing up or shitting ourselves when we wake up. We don’t wake up with splitting headaches. The room is never spinning when the alarm goes off.
We appreciate each other and the sacrifices we make for one another.
We found that we have dreams that reach beyond the bar.
We read personal development books…sometimes out loud…to each other.
We found that we don’t have to drown our emotions or look for the solutions in the bottom of a bottle. We can face them head on and talk about them and the world keeps spinning.
We eat better. When we were drinking, there was a lot of late night snacking while mindlessly watching TV.
We save so much money. If we went out to drink, we could easily spend $50 or more per night on alcohol, that’s not even including the appetizer or dinner. Even at home, we could spend $20-30 depending on how drunk we were planning on getting. And that was always the plan. Never just a few. Always too many.
We move more. We are way more active than we ever had been. I started working out a year after we quit drinking. He just started. We enjoy feeling strong and like the way sweating makes us feel.
But mostly, we enjoy the lucidity we have. Drinking not only clouded our judgement, it clouded our whole lives. We were just going through the motions of our day until we could have a shot (or 12).
And I don’t think you have to be a full blown alcoholic to reap the benefits of not drinking. I think there’s a certain kind of clarity that comes from long term sobriety.
If you want to change your life, even if you don’t “abuse” alcohol, I would challenge you to give up drinking in all forms for a year and see how your life changes. And if you try to stop drinking and realize that you can’t do it alone, please reach out…to me, to a program, to a group. Because there’s a special kind of freedom on the other side of that bottle that is worth getting to.