My son is just a few years younger than I was when I had my first drink. This occurred to me late last week as I watched him sitting among his stuffed animals giggling at a video he was watching on his iPad. He is so young still, while just beginning to press into young manhood, way too young to be worrying about his first drink right?
I was 12 if I am remembering correctly – though I won’t bet his life on the accuracy of my memory. My memory has some major disconnects – severed by alcohol or self-preservation. Either? Both? Who knows? They are simply either not there or jumbled.
At 12, I had the drink that solved the puzzle for me – it was what I had been looking for, the thing to make me feel whole; or so I thought. I had no concept of how sharply that would turn on me, how severely it would hurt and how wrong I was about the impact it was having on me.
I was a “good kid” – decent grades, good friends, family who was flawed (whose isn’t??!!) and grandiose visions of a future quite different than the one I was living. I was angry at a lot of things (real and imagined) and that anger got no better as time and experience went on into my teen years.
Alcohol became a very important companion in my life – subjugating the anger, dulling it and enabling me to perform acts of greatness (in my mind) on a nightly basis.
I was 28, in the military and deployed to the Middle East working in a US embassy when it all came tumbling down – my “bottom” found. Whose grand plan it was to drop an alcoholic into the only area of the Middle East that would allow me essentially open access to booze – I was soon to learn.
I had vowed to my soon to be ex-fiance that I would not drink while over there. He told me that I was not myself when I drank – that he didn’t trust me. A close friend had once told me that when I drank it was like someone flipped a switch – I’d be looking at him and I’d be me – the cool chick he adored. Then I’d look away and look back and crazy me had taken over – the one who would run up hundreds on his bar tab, dance on the table, start fights and run away, forget she was married or engaged or whatever her state was and in general spread chaos in her wake. I remember shrugging that off when he told me…but also hearing the warning. When my soon to be ex-fiance asked me to not drink I wholeheartedly agreed – and meant it so completely I was even a little surprised myself. But a little voice inside whispered, “we’ll see….”.
The night I failed him hurt – and I could no more explain why I had gotten drunk that night than I could explain why the sun rose. I had no choice. I just did. When asked why I was drunk, I was honest for the first time in my life and answered “I don’t know”; if you don’t have a “problem” with alcohol that may make no sense. Who doesn’t have a choice? How can you not know why you violated your word? How is that possible? Was I weak willed, incapable of committing – what the hell “no choice”? That’s ridiculous right?
I was stupendously strong willed in many other areas of my life. I had put myself through college, worked 40 hour weeks, full loads at school up to 27 credits in a semester maintaining a solid GPA. I had risen out of my small town and humble beginnings to become an officer in the US Army. I had married and divorced and survived, I had two combat deployments under my belt and was fiercely independent…but I couldn’t NOT drink.
On the night of April 18th I was handed the reason and the solution – roughly 2 weeks after my failure with my promise. The reason was I was alcoholic – the solution was to surrender to the Truth. I knew of alcoholism. My grandfather was over 50 years sober at his death, my grandmother is approaching 35. Yet it had never crossed my mind that alcohol was my problem. Instead I blamed people, circumstance, places and anything else; because if it was alcohol…I was lost. As much as I hated to admit it I didn’t know how to function without alcohol.
But I was about to learn.
13 years after that fortuitous night, I sit reflecting on a completely different life – it was a lifetime ago. Today I am dependent on nothing except the spiritual direction of my guides and the experiences spiritual connection sends me.
Here are 13 things I am indescribably grateful for since taking that last drink:
- I have been without alcohol for 13 years and today have a healthier, more complete experience than I could have hoped for – the very feeling I sought to gain from alcohol.
- My son has never seen, nor will ever see me under the influence of alcohol.
- I don’t seek connection on inauthentic terms – I am me and I am stoked you are you. If we don’t jive, we can go our separate ways without animosity. Go do you – you rock.
- I can see my part in life – when I make a mistake I own it and do my best to make amends, but I also know I am not the sole responsibility holder. We all have free will and choose how we justify it or flow with it.
- I can be of support to others without expecting anything in return – and I can detach from their skepticism of that offer.
- I always remember my experiences – and can be present for the full spectrum of emotions that come with them.
- I can have honest relationships.
- I have no idea what fireball whiskey tastes like.
- Social Media became a thing AFTER my last drink.
- Being able to see that recovery from alcoholism means being able to participate in life fully rather than either crushing it or watching from the sidelines.
- Perfection is a myth but progress is a worthy aspiration.
- It’s not my job to manage your life – but I can certainly offer assistance when you seek it.
- I’m okay.
It’s important to me to pause on occasions like the date of my sobriety and be grateful to spirit, to the people who helped me discover my truth and to learn how to live it. I dedicate my life to being grateful for the gift of full spectrum living.
If you struggle with alcohol and its impact in your life – there is a solution. Check out your local Alcoholics Anonymous listings, talk to your doctor, or consult a therapist: get your questions answered and let your free will guide you to the next choice of needing help, continuing on or some third option.
For those who like to see the negative in every word along the way, allow me to be clear: I am not a prohibitionist. Alcohol in and of itself is not a problem – there are issues associated with alcohol I morally disagree with that are separate from my inability to drink it – but on the whole I don’t think it’s the devil nor see any reason to lobby for its demise. You want to drink – go for it, not my place to judge.
I share this writing from my personal experience only and offer suggestions for those who want them.
If you’d like to learn more about me (Jennifer Murphy) and my business (No Limits Life) you can visit www.nolimitslife.guru. We offer online courses, live events and private coaching focused on partnering with you to create the lifestyle you crave but haven’t developed yet.