I’ve been in recovery since March 2007. There were a lot of terms and phrases I didn’t like in the beginning. Luckily, liking them was not a requirement. There were no requirements. For me, the path I chose was entirely voluntary. Still, the language did bug me.
“Recovery,” for example. C’mon, really? I just want to quit drinking. That’s all. Recovery. It sounds so medical. So clinical.
“Clean,” as in “clean and sober.” Clean. I beg your pardon?
And the phrase “getting sober.” It implied, I thought, that I’d been drunk all the time. Not so. I had a regular life. Finished high school. Went to college. Graduated. I was a successful and independent young adult. Then marriage. Two kids. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Birthday parties, class trips, PTA meetings, group exercise classes at the YMCA. I did all that. I functioned. I wasn’t always drunk.
I had rules, too. Only on weekends — except girls’ night out or dinner with the book club. Only after five — unless it was an afternoon barbecue or a football game or lunch with the girls. Never drink alone —unless I was cooking a sauce or getting ready to go out. Never liquor — except maybe a few margaritas while eating Mexican or martinis during a “Sex and the City” marathon. Shots? Never. Well, except sometimes an ice-cold, expensive tequila shot with the other fun, fabulous moms. You know, to celebrate us.
Yep, I had rules. Some say that’s a sign. Having rules.
For a lot of the women, vodka is the end of the line. I never made it that far. The wine finished me off good. Red wine. In those final months I couldn’t even pretend to be following my rules. I could barely string three days together before a craving to warm my insides with the insidious liquid overcame me.
That’s how it gets in the end. If you’ve been there, you know.
I needed help. If that meant accepting terms like “recovery” and phrases like “getting sober,” so be it. When in Rome, do as the Romans. Just help me, please.
I soon learned that quitting is the easy part. Figuring out how to embrace life minus the booze is a process. It’s a process of recovery. I came to understand that sober refers more to a state of being than to the absence of drink. To be sober is to be content, serene, present and at peace. To be sober is to live with gratitude, purpose and intention. Of course, to get sober, I first had to quit drinking.
Today, I speak the language of recovery with ease and fluency. I get it. I quit drinking long ago. Today, I live in recovery. I’m sober. Some days more than others.