My First Month Sober
By: Samantha Steiner
My last drink was around 11 PM on Saturday, April 8th, 2017. I was drinking with a girl that I conceded to be my best friend of almost 20 years and two of her cousins. Some stuff went down and we basically lost touch after that. It’s not my story to tell so I will not get into what happened. After I got sober, I basically lost my best friend and that hurts more than anything. However, all we literally did, over 20 years, was get high and drunk together. I love this girl to death though and I will always love her.
Now, to get back on topic, when I had my last drink I was attending a partial hospitalization program called Adult Transitions for my dual diagnosis which is mental health issues along with substance abuse problems. Not only was I a total binge drinker but I also smoked weed and I used to do whatever drugs I could get my hands on. My therapist at A.T. (Adult Transitions) made me realize that it is not really normal to not be able to stop after one drink. At A.T. we would have 3 hours of group therapy so between my therapist and the group I really started to see how much of a problem that I had.
I made excuses for my drinking. I figured that since I was able to stop drinking daily all on my own I didn’t need any help. I didn’t need AA. I didn’t think I had that much of a problem, even though everyone else sure thought I had a problem. I started to wonder if maybe there really was something to what everyone else was telling me.
My therapist would urge me to go to an AA meeting but like with everything else, I would make excuses for not going. I would say that I don’t need to go because I don’t drink every day anymore, or that I can’t go alone, or that I wouldn’t have a way there, or that AA was for quitters (ha!). I would say whatever I could think of. The only time I would admit to having a problem was when I was already wasted and feeling severely depressed. That’s when I would be able to tell that something wasn’t quite right.
I didn’t like the thought of never being able to drink again. Nobody likes being told the word never. It is a very powerful and permanent word. AA is all about, “One day at a time,” But I didn’t know how to do one day at a time. My mind would just go to the future. How was I going to stay sober during holidays and birthdays? I just couldn’t picture it, at first. How do you learn to live one day at a time when it was hard to stay in the present moment to begin with? I had a lot of learning and growing up to do.
I had been drinking and using drugs for 16 years which is over half my life so that was really all I knew. At first, quitting drinking wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I went to my first AA meeting 7 days in. I was extremely nervous and my boyfriend went with me for support because there was no was that I was going to go alone. I am a very codependent person which is something I really need to work on. One thing at a time though.
My first meeting was kind of overwhelming but everyone was so nice and welcoming. I kind of got a cultish type of vibe though. I was scared at first though because I was the only female there. I thought, Oh no, my very first meeting and I showed up to a men’s only meeting! I was freaking out! When the chairman starting speaking he really messed with me and looked right at me (it was a small, cozy meeting) and said, “Welcome, to the _________ men’s only Meeting.” My jaw dropped, I turned bright red and everyone started laughing. He was just screwing with me. Talk about an awkward ice breaker. Needless to say, I ended up making that my home group. I just felt comfortable there even though many women don’t show up to that Saturday night meeting. However, that group does also have a Sunday and Monday night meeting as well.
I felt relieved after my first meeting though. I couldn’t figure out why I had been so nervous in the first place. After that, I started going to meetings regularly, just not as much as I would like since I have to rely on rides at the moment, and I even found a sponsor within my third day of attending meetings. It took a while to open up to my sponsor but once I did, I was glad I did. She is my rock when I need someone to talk to as well as some of the other people that I have become good friends with that are in recovery.
At first, I thought there was nothing too much to this staying sober thing. I didn’t really have many hard urges or cravings; they were more just like passing thoughts. Like, hmm, I am bored I could go for a drink but nah I don’t need to. However, as more time went on it got a little harder. The more I got stressed, the harder the urges got. I wasn’t an everyday drinker, so I should have realized that the urges wouldn’t kick in right away or even all the time. They are only once in a while. Kind of like my drinking habits. When I did drink, I went all out though. I drink too much in such a short period of time. I had to be the one to drink more than everyone else. I had to be the one with the strongest drinks. I had to be the one who blacked out at the end of the night. It was getting unmanageable and out of hand. My drinking went from wanting to drink to needing to drink especially in times of emotional stress or pain, which is the worst time to drink since alcohol is a depressant.
I would be fine for a few hours but by the time I got home and was trapped inside my own head and alone at night, after getting wasted, I would get depressed, suicidal, start self-harming, cry hysterically, yell, scream, argue, and whatever else you could think of that was negative. I just couldn’t control myself and I guess that is not normal. More so, I know that is not normal.
As of today Monday, May 29th. 2017 I am 1 month and 20 days sober. Within the past 20 days, I have been way more agitated, emotional, angry and feeling out of control with my emotions. A new, and good, friend from AA told me that it is most likely caused by new sobriety. I was not prepared for the mood changes. On top of being bipolar, I didn’t need anything else to affect my mood. Staying sober is worth it though. Some days I still doubt my sobriety when I am feeling really low. I will wonder if I made the right decision even though in the back of my mind I know that I would not have been able to stay on the same path that I was on and that my life had become unmanageable (step one). I feel like it is normal to doubt yourself sometimes when you are making a major life change for yourself.
1 month and 21 days ago, I could have never pictured getting sober. It was not even an option for me. I am working on my one day at a time. And today, I am going to have to work on one moment at a time since it is Memorial Day—a major drinking holiday. Or at least, it was for me. I have only made it through one other holiday sober which was Easter since I have decided to get clean. It was easier than I thought but it was still when everything was peachy before I became so angry and irritable about everything. I know that if I need help I can always call my sponsor or one of my friends in recovery and that they will always be there for me. As everyone in recovery always tells me, “Recovery is a WE thing. You are never alone.”
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.