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How I Found Happiness In An Unlikely Place: Sobriety

For years, I had been drunk around the clock.

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illustration of woman feeling at peace surrounded by shattered glassware
Sonia Pulido
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The first time I drank, I blacked out.

Alcohol burned on the way down in a way that would cause most to shutter, but not me. I felt warm, loved and truly at peace for the first time (maybe) ever. My friends and I passed the bottle around as we got sillier and louder. My memory of the night’s events quickly faded.

When I woke up the next morning, Catholic guilt set in. My mom is going to know I got drunk, I thought. My head hurt and I remembered very little of the previous night. The hangover was painful. The blackout was scary. The guilt was heavy. Yet there I sat, planning my next drink. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

My life changed forever with that first sip. Alcohol provided me with something I had been chasing for years. It made me feel alive and important, confident and fun, and most importantly, it quieted all the noise and chatter in my mind. From that moment on, every minute of every day, alcohol consumed my thoughts. I was constantly planning my next drink. Things I used to enjoy, like sports and going to dances sober, were no longer fun.

When I turned 21, I rejoiced because I could drink legally. When I got married and had a full-time job, a glass of wine became sophisticated and socially acceptable. And when I could no longer wait until 5 p.m., I joked about my lunchtime chardonnay as if I were a free-spirited hippie living her dream. Eventually, my lunchtime chardonnay turned into a morning nip of vodka — or two, sometimes three.

I finally got what I had always wanted: I was drunk around the clock. I didn’t have to be anxious ever. I never had to feel any negative emotions. I drank before job interviews and dates and even in the sauna at the gym. When life got hard, I drank it away. I was numb and spiritually bankrupt. There was no substance to me. No growth. No deep human connection. It was me and vodka against the world. And the world won.

I ended my drinking career the same way it began: blacked out on vodka. Except this time, I wasn’t with friends. I was all alone. I lost everything — my job, my kids, my license. I spent decades chasing a life that felt good all the time, and it left me with nothing and no one.

Eventually, I was ready to start anew.

Detox. Rehab. Years of hard work to heal the self-hate, guilt and shame. Secret trips to bathrooms in random places like work and church and the gas station where I’d kneel down and beg God to keep me away from a drink. Phone calls with other alcoholics five or six times a day, sitting in discomfort and resisting the urge to numb the pain. Days turned to weeks. Weeks to months.

Today, I can proudly say that I have been sober for 10 beautiful years.

Some would look at my life and say, “She doesn’t have much.” My bank account currently hovers around $330. I’m unemployed, there is no husband, nor is there a big house or fancy car.

I guess I don’t have much when it comes to external things. But internally, I have it all: I am sober. I have my health, three amazing kids and a faith that is stronger than I could have ever imagined. I have sat with loud thoughts and learned how to quiet them with prayer, exercise and a simple help me. I have the wisdom to know that I must start every day with gratitude and say sorry when I am wrong. I know that if I look for the good and beauty in every moment and everybody, I will find it. And today, I can look in the mirror and say, “Damn, girl, I love you and I am proud of you!”

What more could a girlfriend ask for?

For more information on how to live a happier life, go here.
Have any of you quit drinking? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health