It’s been two years since the end of my first relapse. First and only, I’d say, except I can’t predict the future.
Two years ago I became belligerently drunk at a party and, when my boyfriend couldn’t stand me anymore, I was dropped at my sister’s house to recover. I drank myself into alcohol poisoning instead.
That weekend is important for me to remember. It’s important to remember what happened the last time I made the mistake of thinking I could control my drinking through good intention and force of will. It’s important to remember that, though it took a year to get there, I eventually became the out-of-control, violent and angry drunk I’d been before.
That weekend, after a blacked out Saturday night (the recounted stories of which are still embarrassing) I woke up and started on a stout 6-pack. Old school Seana. After my boyfriend dropped me at my sister’s in frustration, I started on another. I drank all day, moving on to the liquor she kept on top of her fridge. Rum and coke. Rum and a splash of coke. Rum. Sleep. Wake up. Drink. I called in sick. I talked to my boyfriend, told him I was going to have a strict two drink rule moving forward. Eventually, I ended up back at his house, vomiting every 45 to 60 seconds, sometimes every two minutes if I was lucky. Drinking water just to be able to throw something up because the dry heaving hurt so bad. I spent hours like that, while my boyfriend took care of me. I started telling him, and others, that I wasn’t going to drink for a year. I don’t imagine they believed me, I barely did.
But, thanks to the ten months I’d spent in rehab three years earlier, my eyes opened that weekend and I saw my addiction for what it was. I realized I am an alcoholic. I’d never thought that before. I’d gone to rehab to recover from a cocaine addiction, not alcohol. I thought I could control alcohol. I was wrong.
And so, as realization hit, I told everyone that I was done entirely. I highly recommend being very transparent in the beginning of sobriety. Telling the world clearly and definitively that you have an addiction and are getting clean creates a useful web of accountability. I told people I realized I had relapsed, that I was an alcoholic and I was done drinking. And, so far, I have been. I have not had a drink in two full years.
The boyfriend in that story
is now my husband, we celebrated our first year of marriage a couple of weeks ago. Together we share a perfect baby girl and a house with a white picket fence. We have exciting goals and plans for the future. It would seem that life is back on track, like that little year-long relapse didn’t actually happen.
Which is why it’s so important to remember that it did. I got comfortable in my sobriety, overly confident in myself, and lax about self-protection, and it led to a relapse that could have ended a lot worse.
It’s especially important to remember my history on this, the second anniversary of sobriety, because this is when I relapsed the first time. I had my first drink, a Guinness, almost two years to the day after getting sober the first time. I entered rehab in March 2008 and I had my first drink in March 2010.
As though my addiction also knows this anniversary, and the ease with which I failed to make it through the first time, I have been consumed with thoughts of substances. Pondering bottles of wine in the grocery store, craving the burn of a cigarette, eyeing my sister’s mimosa at a shower, absently wishing for a reputable dealer as I glance at my postbaby body in the mirror; my addiction is everywhere these days.
I see it. I know it’s there. Life goes on. I drink my kombucha in a wine glass the way I did in the beginning, and I leave an event if I need to. I shared my cravings with my husband, my sister, now with all of you. I do not know the future, it’s true, but I know this moment, and I have some pretty clear vision of the next. And the next.
And I know that when enough of these moments line up we’ll be here again, except we’ll be celebrating anniversary number three.
See you there!