The Clarity of Hindsight

The other night I went out to dinner with some family members I haven’t seen since before I quit drinking.  One is a sister who has struggled mightily with alcohol for several years.  The booze is winning, I’m afraid.  She isolates and lives a pretty sad life. I kind of doubt she’ll ever stop.  The other is an aunt, who got to the restaurant a little early, as I did.  She invited me to join her in a glass of wine.  I said, “Actually – I quit drinking.”  She was pretty surprised and responded, “That’s great!  I’m not going to ask why, but – good for you!”  I realized later that when people make a point of saying they’re NOT going to ask why, they’re REALLY asking why.  Without skipping a beat, I told her, “I’ll tell you why. I didn’t like where it was going.  If booze is an elevator, for me it was only going down.  I think I was heading for real trouble.  It didn’t add anything positive to my life so I got rid of it.”

I don’t know if she expected that level of honesty from me but she seemed really impressed.  Her only brother (my dad) was hospitalized for depression and alcohol abuse when I was a kid. My mother’s father was an alcoholic, as was at least one of her sisters.  Besides the sister I mentioned, I have two other siblings I suspect might have a problem with alcohol. Alcohol abuse most definitely runs in my family.

I think the bravest, strongest thing I ever did was to seize on that one moment of desperation and utter despair of the morning of August 18th last summer.  That one moment in time when I flashed both back and forward, seeing where I started with a couple of beers on the weekend when I was in my 20’s, to constant obsessive thoughts about drinking.  Then looking ahead to a future full of more blackouts, hangovers, shame, and what I believed to be the probability of an early, unpleasant death.

That absolutely scared the shit out of me.

And then telling my husband before I could talk myself out of it, like I’d done a million times before.  You probably know what I mean – all the times you make more rules about and around your drinking, only to break them almost immediately.

Anyway.  The point of all this is that, after a little more than 8 months of sobriety, I’m getting more honest – with myself and others – about what was really going on in my mind when I decided to quit the demon rum.  And I’m coming to the conclusion that, if there’s a continuum of alcoholism – a progression of sorts – I was well on my way.

And unlike what you might see in the rear view mirror, as I look back I see things more sharply and clearly than ever.

Quitting drinking is the best, most important thing I’ve ever done.

12 thoughts on “The Clarity of Hindsight

  1. Can’t tell you how much your posts click with me. I will be starting the 100 day challenge soon, and won’t be drinking when I attend a family get together during my nephews graduation. My siblings are high bottom drinkers , will be interesting to see how they react.

    Liked by 1 person

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