Earlier this month I celebrated thirty-two years’ sobriety. For the uninitiated that means eleven thousand six hundred and eighty continuous days without alcohol. Of any kind. That’s what surprises most people. “Not even a sip?” Nope. No sherry trifle. No Bailey’s cheesecake. If there’s any doubt I’ll ask someone who isn’t in recovery to do the taste-test. At a wedding recently my husband tasted the desert and said best to steer clear. The cherries really were soaked in brandy.
Earlier than October 16th 1988 my life looked pretty different. I used alcohol to take care of those pesky inhibitions, be sociable, numb out, get to sleep. I was what is called a high functioning drunk, missing one day of work in my whole career and never driving drunk. Friends would say “you can’t be an alcoholic, I drink more than you” but it’s not about how much someone drinks it’s about the intention and the effect. Alcohol had a particular effect on me. I had regular blackouts over the years and I made choices I would not have made sober. In fact, my last drink provided something twelve-steppers call a moment of clarity; a shameful experience I never wanted to repeat. And I haven’t. I’m one of the fortunate ones who has enjoyed continuous sobriety from that day forward without slips or relapses. I am grateful for this.
There’s something significant about twenty-five years. Twenty-four was no big deal, but this one extra year feels special. A real achievement. A profound marker. The future beckons bright and shiny.
Like the Oscar winners, I have many people to thank, for I have certainly not done this alone. Thanks go to those inspired creators of AA and all those in twelve-step programmes who have supported me along the way. They will, of course, remain anonymous but they know who they are. There’s also one other special person. A decade or so into sobriety someone I deeply respect assessed me as theembodiment of recovery and at the time I didn’t feel worthy. Now I do. So thank you Dr. Richard Strozzi-Heckler for creating this possibility.
October 16th, 2020