October 1, 2007

At some point I realized that I go days on end without thinking about alcohol at all. I mean, the subject just doesn’t cross my mind, it’s not on my radar, if I had a personal tag cloud representing the contents of my brain “Drinking” would be one of the itty-bitty words faded into the background while things like “Maternity Waistbands” and “The Facial Expressions of Michael C. Hall” would be in the forefront.

I remember how drinking used to consume me, how I’d spend my entire day obsessing about it, from the moment I woke up and started battling the hours-long hangover that gripped me every single morning. Every minute that led up to the first swallow was nothing more than an impatient foot-tap. I remember feeling trapped on a painfully stupid hamster wheel: wake up, hate self, drink, repeat.

It was so hard, in those first months, to deal with the fact that I had to stop, and that I had to stop not just for a few weeks or months but I had to stop forever, I could never have a drink again. My head filled with a thousand images of things I couldn’t do: toast with champagne, order port with dessert, have a cold beer on a hot summer day (funny how none of these images included any disgusting realities like drinking cheap vodka straight from the bottle and holding my nose so I could swallow it without gagging).

I couldn’t have guessed at how unbelievably freeing it would be. How a thousand and one burdens would be lifted. I didn’t know what it would be like to live with clarity, without the endless cycle, the endless drown. I felt like it was going to be impossible to make it through without the crutch I had grown to depend on, the stick I used to beat myself bloody before going back for more, day after day.

I wish I could go back and tell myself: hang in there, because it is worth it. God, it is so worth it. But I guess it doesn’t matter, I made it here anyway. Here in this fan-fucking-tastic place where I don’t think about drinking for days on end.

It will never go away, not entirely. It lurks, a dark and shameful thing that I gave so many years to. But it’s more than I could have ever hoped for, to be able to forget about it at all.


69 Responses to “Banished”

  1. SleepyNita on October 2nd, 2007 1:59 pm

    I love when you write like this.

    When you wrote about your DUI I stepped back a bit and looked at my habits. When Dad! is at home, I tend to drink nightly. A glass of wine after dinner (or 3) but nothing I felt was too bad. I would be SO tired when Rito woke up in the mornings and CRANKY yet I thought that was normal.

    Yet when Dad! is out of town I have maybe 2 beer a week, I feel a ton better and I really don’t miss the drinking. I also don’t care when Rito wakes up because I obviously don’t have a mini-hangover.

    I am totally cutting back the alcohol when Dad! comes back to town. It isn’t worth it anymore.

  2. Anonymous 2 on October 2nd, 2007 2:02 pm

    I’ve been sober for almost 20 years. I don’t have your gift of being able to write what I mean, so let me just say that your writing says it all. And it is like being let out of a prison you really didn’t know you were in, isn’t it?

  3. Brooke on October 2nd, 2007 2:33 pm

    Blessings, Linda, and awesome! for getting to a place where you are able to forget, even for a little while.

    I loved your aunt’s comment as well. It is hard to live with someone who has a drinking problem. Hooray for you and those who love you.

  4. Jessica on October 2nd, 2007 2:42 pm

    Me too!

    When I finally managed to quit, I knew that I would never have any fun again without drinking.

    Turns out I was being kind of melodramatic.

    It’s been a great year and a half for me.

  5. girl in greenwood on October 2nd, 2007 4:05 pm

    Linda, if you don’t mind sharing, may I ask if you’re still taking Antabuse? I seem to remember that you were taking it when you first stopped drinking, and I’ve always been curious about whether it actually helped, or if it was primarily the placebo effect (in the sense of showing intention by taking a pill every day).

    I’m very happy to hear that the urge to drink is leaving you. Congratulations.

  6. sundry on October 2nd, 2007 4:12 pm

    Greenwood: no, I haven’t taken that in a long long time.

  7. Melissa on October 2nd, 2007 4:32 pm

    I think you are brave and a beautiful person. I haven’t experienced alcoholism myself but felt I could relate to your feelings of wanting to go back and tell that girl of the past that everything would be okay. This too shall pass – good lesson for life’s greatest struggles. Thank you for your honesty and candor….wonderful post. I’m happy you are feeling a sense of freedom. :)

  8. superblondgirl on October 2nd, 2007 6:52 pm

    Linda, you rock. Seriously.

  9. Colleen on October 2nd, 2007 8:05 pm

    This is fantastic. And thanks so much of sharing this part of your life with us.

  10. MATTY! on October 2nd, 2007 9:18 pm

    It’s posts like this that make me love the person behind the blog all the more.

    You’ve got a lot to be proud of.

  11. Kristin on October 2nd, 2007 10:42 pm

    Jesus Gay, Linda. This is reason number 732 that you’re one of the best loved writers in the blogosphere.

    I wish you lived just a little closer.

  12. Trina on October 2nd, 2007 11:27 pm

    I think it’s awesome that you are able to stay sober. I know how hard it is. But, I also know the gift that you are giving to Riley and new baby. My parents are alcoholics (sober now for 7 years) and growing up in that situation was awful. I know I can’t change the past but I secretly wish from time to time that my parents were back then how they are today. I hope that you continue to post about this occasionally because I promise you, you are helping someone out there.

  13. Deanna on October 3rd, 2007 5:37 am

    You are strong, have courage and commitment.
    You are a great wife and mother (and hip and cool, too!).
    good job, you!!

  14. wilddreemer on October 3rd, 2007 5:53 am

    HI! I’m delurking (well i’ve commented before) to say that i have a little blog crush on you. it seems like you are always saying exactly what i’m feeling. especially with this post!

  15. Elyse on October 3rd, 2007 7:32 am

    Your honesty is definitely appreciated! My mom went through something similar and it’s just always a breath of fresh air to know that you’re not alone in life. One of the reasons I most appreciate blogging!

  16. Amber on October 3rd, 2007 8:16 am

    My mother was an alcoholic for as long as I knew and loved her, and I remember so many nights of confusion and fear, created by parties and fights. I remember hating the smell of booze, and I remember being very, very careful when my mom was walking around with her wine glass, because any wrong comment could set off her temper.

    You are beautiful and strong for being able to kick your demon to the curb, and Riley and baby Y are very, very lucky to have a mother who will only instill confidence and love in them…and probably a wicked sense of humor. :)

  17. ktjrdn on October 3rd, 2007 8:19 am

    wonderfully said

  18. missyb on October 3rd, 2007 10:10 am

    I’ve read this every day since you posted it. I’ve been sober for three whole days. I know it won’t be easy, but your words help so much. I could never begin to thank you. I can’t remember the last time I made it three whole days.

  19. Jessica on October 3rd, 2007 3:00 pm

    Missyb — good for you! Three days is great! Keep going…!

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