As soon as the vodka hit my lips, I knew. The rush of excitement and feelings of the unknown would hit me. I just never knew what might happen. I could meet the love of my life, I could end up in a crazy situation, I could not remember any of it, I could have the best night of my life, or the worst! I threw caution to the wind. Do most people feel this way when they drink? Maybe sometimes, but I don’t think it’s why they drink. I was chasing something and the rabbit hole to get there was alcohol and drugs.
Every time I picked up a drink or put a drug in my system I was letting go of my choices. I didn’t put this equation together until well into my sobriety. But when I finally figured it out, a light bulb went off in my head. No one thinks that drinking and using has to do with giving up choices, but it does. As soon as I put alcohol into my body I was relinquishing control to the substance and I no longer had the power of choice. I was at the mercy of alcohol. I was being used as a tool for alcohol, not living my purpose through the universe. For me, it was like a dark spirit inhabited my body when I was drunk. Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. I didn’t have control over my body or my actions. Whenever I woke up I would have to figure out what I did and said, and some of things were hard to believe, not to mention shameful and embarrassing. Even on the rare occasion that I did remember what I did while I was drinking, I still made choices that I would never have made sober. Alcohol and drugs cosigned my negative habits and toxic behavioral patterns.
Once I drank I couldn’t stop because I was always looking for more – not necessarily more drugs or drinking, but MORE “fun,” more drama, more craziness, more attention, and more distraction from my normal life. And how does one get those things? For me, it was through drugs and alcohol. It’s true that when you don’t drink, you can’t have the same type of “fun.” Something that you might think is hilarious or fun when you’re drunk, might not be either of those things when you’re sober. When you’re sober you are in a different mindset and that’s not to say you can’t have fun, but your fun is now reality based. Alcohol provides us with a false sense of self, a false narrative that we believe to be funny or enjoyable in the moment, and it robs us of our real choices.
Being sober is empowering for me because I finally have my choices back. If I don’t want to go out I don’t have to. If I don’t want to socialize I don’t have to. Now I have control of my body and my decisions. I am no longer at the mercy of a substance. I can leave a get-together if I feel uncomfortable. I have tools that allow me to deal with life as it comes. Alcohol is no longer in the driver’s seat. I am.
With that comes a new sense of freedom and a new sense of fun. In early sobriety, going out and trying to be social was painfully awkward for me and uncomfortable. Being around alcohol was like holding my breath. One false move and it was over. I looked at each situation as barely skating by with my sobriety. I would breathe a sigh of relief after each social interaction was over. It took me awhile to become comfortable in settings where alcohol was present. Not because I wanted to drink it ALL, but because I had to figure out who I was without alcohol guiding me. I had to figure out what happens when I make the choices.
If you know me you know that I normally know what I want and I go for it. I have been known to use the phrase, “I do what I want!” I have been known to have issues with authority. Haha. I can hear my mother laughing now. But since getting sober, I have noticed a pattern with myself. Choices overwhelm me. I am overwhelmed by the choices I didn’t know I had all along, which is surprising for people who have known me all my life. Sobriety has taught me to stop, think, reflect, and then make a choice, rather than be impulsive and go after the first thing I see that I want. It’s a blessing and a curse. My sister thinks I’m too indecisive now and sometimes I feel that way. It’s a new feeling for me. When you’ve been traveling at the speed of light your entire life, slowing down, and thinking about choices is mind-boggling to say the least.
Today I am at a point in my life where I can go out to a bar, nightclub, or party and enjoy dancing, socializing, and just being myself. The difference is I am comfortable in my own skin. I am not looking for “more” of anything that can be found within the depths of a bottle, a shot, or a pill. I have the capability of going to and leaving any engagement when I choose, not when the alcohol runs out, not when last call is up, not when I’ve exhausted all options for pleasure-seeking.
It’s ironic because when I was at the end of my drinking I felt like I was giving up control. Nobody could tell me I should stop drinking! Nobody. Well, in the end it was my choice, combined with some signs from the universe, and a leap of a faith. With sobriety, choices are back in my hands. Although there is still so much in this world I can’t control, I can control being in the present moment, not putting myself in harm’s way by drinking and using drugs, and not living according to where the alcohol takes me.
You cannot have freedom without choice and for me, I can’t have freedom without sobriety. I’m so grateful for choices today, whether I am overwhelmed by them or not.