This time of year is proving to be sort of tough. It is bringing me back to fall last year, when I was beginning to slowly spiral. Things were starting to get a bit out of control for me, and I was questioning my behavior on a regular basis. I was doing things I knew I shouldn't be. I was drinking earlier and earlier in the day, more than I ever had before. I was consuming a lot of alcohol everyday, unable to experience the buzz or drunken feeling I craved. I couldn't get the high from alcohol anymore. The pleasure center inside my brain was apparently unable to function properly, and I wasn't producing dopamine like I should have been. I had overdone it. I couldn't feel - even when I was trying to escape feeling with booze. I was worrying myself, waking up in that shame cycle of self loathing and unhappiness more often than not.
This weather is triggering. The leaves changing, the pumpkins, the overall festive feeling that everyone in my family gets, the cool New England weather: it will likely always remind me of a time when things got really bad. In general, every single year, it was usually the start of the holidays for me when my drinking ramped up. It was a slow roll into heavy drinking this time of year no matter what. My birthday and Thanksgiving in November then the holidays in December, there were always lots of acceptable excuses for me to drink.
I am about 11 months away from my sobriety right now, and I honestly can't imagine my life with alcohol in it anymore. At the same time, I still have moments where it feels like yesterday that I had this substance in my life. The memories are still vivid. There are times when a feeling comes over me and I have a moment of nostalgia, and I think, "That used to be fun to drink and watch the sunset." But then I remind myself that it had been many years since I actually enjoyed one drink and didn't obsess over my next one.
Sometimes when I find myself glorifying drinking and romanticizing about what is used to be like, I just play the tape forward. The image I lust after was only a snapshot. A moment in time. I usually chased after that split second all night for the rest of the evening. That first sip. That first buzz. That feeling of relaxation and contentment. That perfect, beautiful moment - often captured in everyone's photos on instagram - that usually disappeared in a matters of seconds. The buzz wore off minutes later, and I spent the rest of the night searching for it. Consuming one after another, only getting more and more drunk. The colors would bleed into the background and the noises of those around me would become a dull rhythm of sound. I didn't care about anyone or anything, I could only focus on one thing and one thing only... and that was to get back to that buzz, only to fall deeper into oblivion.
It is so freeing to know how far away from those chains of addiction I am, and I remind myself everyday that I never NEED to go back there.
I was at an event at our club last weekend. It was one of my favorites, that we go to every year. It was outdoor, glow in the dark golf, and like always, there was a lot of drinking. I remember attending the same event last year, but I recall waking up the next morning and not remembering when we left or even what food I ate the night before. It was nice to enjoy it this time around, win 2nd place in the event, take home a prize and get to bed early.
I only have a few more weeks before I hit that one year point, and there is a lot of reflection happening. I truly believe I am a different human that I was last year at this time. I am so grateful for each day and all that I have learned during these eleven months.