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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say things like, “Whatever you say drunk is what you really want to say when you’re sober,” or “Drunk you only does what sober you wants to do.”
This may be true for some people, but I’m going to go ahead and call BS on that right now for myself.
That belief brought me so much shame in the years of my drinking, and even for a while into sobriety. It took me a long time to forgive myself for the things I did while I was drunk. If that was the real me, the real me was a piece of shit and I wanted nothing to do with her. Only I couldn’t rid myself of her, and I felt helpless to repeat the same mistakes and bad behaviors. Until I quit drinking and took my choice back.
When I’m sober, I’m content to hang out with my children on a Saturday evening playing random board games, or just puttering around the house. There’s no pull to get wild, to change how I feel. I’m not itching to tear up the town, or “just go listen to music” as I used to say when I was itching to drink. We joke about it sometimes now, how I so rarely feel like going to a bar to listen to music. It used to be all I wanted to do, multiple days a week. I didn’t say I wanted a drink, I’d say I wanted to listen to music.
I didn’t like to drink at home alone, I preferred the noise of the bar and the music that I could drown in. Maybe it would have gotten to that point, but even when I drank at home, I socialized online. I tweeted constantly while drunk, texted people, always looking for that attention and that validation. Somebody somewhere would be interested enough or bored enough to keep talking to me, and that’s all I wanted.
Alcohol gave me a false sense of confidence, beauty, and intrigue. I felt invincible, attractive. It was an addictive high in itself, and I kept drinking to keep feeling it. I wasn’t comfortable in my body, and alcohol fixed that. Temporarily. Until it didn’t. Or rather, until the consequences were starting to add up too much.
I found the “real me” through recovery.
It’s like God pulled back the curtains, not just on how I looked at the world, but how I looked at myself. Before recovery, I was always an anxious victim who needed constant validation. Even when I was mostly doing “ok”, as in not drinking very much or doing the best I could as a mom and a woman, I never really felt peace. Anything could have knocked me off course. God has gently shown me that with His help, I can stand and face anything in my life. I don’t have to be afraid of what might be coming around the corner, or afraid of what I might do to sabotage my life. I don’t have to desperately seek validation and attention. I can trust Him.
I don’t act out sexually anymore, I don’t pitch fits or cry when I don’t get my way anymore (usually. ha). I don’t tell everybody’s business or gossip. That wasn’t the “real me”, while sober me is some kind of repressed fake. Even when I was struggling and desperately wished that I could drink in moderation, I knew sobriety was the best choice.
It’s been a few years, and I’ve mostly processed my shame, remorse, and guilt from past years. I don’t shrug it away as being just stuff that “drunk Ashley” did, as if I have no responsibility for my actions when I drink. I own everything I’ve done, drunk and sober. In a way I think this blog is my way to keep processing my behavior and my recovery as I continue to find out who I really am as a person.
Today, I’m writing this from my back porch that I spent the last few weekends updating and refreshing. My husband and I have painted wicker furniture and Adirondack chairs together, hung string lights, and beautified the whole patio. Instead of hangovers, I have hanging plants. Instead of regrets, I have a relaxing patio that cost me very little to update (thanks to garage sale furniture finds, paint, and lights). It’s spring, and I’m excited to keep learning how to enjoy life and pass it on. I hope you are finding the same enjoyment. ♥
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Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around. Read my story...
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