I was honored. Truly, truly freaking HONORED to have recently been asked by the fearless and fabulous Noa Gavin to be part of her consortium and, along with the amazingly gifted and witty Abby Huegel be part of the "League Of F-ing Bitches" counsel. We hope, each week, to inspire every female writer out there to find her inner "F", be it frank, fierce, funny, or frugal and to embrace that side of herself with everything she has. Each week we'll feature a different theme. This week, our theme is "Enough". This is mine. Short and sweet, but unflinchingly honest.
One was never enough.
No. . .that’s not true. One drink was far too many, and every drink after the first was never enough.
There weren’t enough drinks to make be escape my crushing depression. There weren’t enough drinks to help me survive an abusive and destructive marriage. There weren’t enough drinks to make me look at my body with anything but loathing. There weren’t enough drinks to make me numb to the self-harming and self-defeating thoughts that dominated my life. There were never enough.
I remember the first time I saw “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” and the alcoholic character, Brick, told Maggie that he couldn’t stop drinking until he felt the “click”; the switch in his brain that shut out all of the feelings and made things okay again. I heard that line and I thought “Yes! That’s exactly what it is! The click!” But over time, it became harder and harder to get that “click”. The usual amount of alcohol no longer worked. It was no longer enough.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I began my ascent from the haze of alcohol. What many would see as “rock bottom” we, again, not enough to pull my head out of my ass and the bottle from my hand. It wasn’t enough the night I dropped my phone and car keys down a sewer drain outside of a bar. It wasn’t enough when I found myself on a TriMet bus headed downtown with no idea how I got there or where I was going. It wasn’t enough the morning I woke up on my living room floor with my son’s baby blanket draped over me; looking up to see my two year old patting my head. And it wasn’t even enough when I spent the night in a jail cell after being arrested for a DUI. . .after driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.2.
What finally pulled me back from the brink wasn’t a singular event or a seminal moment, but rather a slow unfurling of my spirit. It was days, and then weeks, and eventually months of counselling, swilling shitty coffee in church basement A.A. meetings, and slowly amassing a circle of loving, supportive, and like-minded friends that held my hand as I walked through the fire. At first, it was excruciating. For so many years I drank to block out emotions like anger and sadness and fear. Without the anesthesia of alcohol, these emotions besieged me from all sides and I was overwhelmed and terrified. But eventually. . .slowly. . .I learned to accept and even embrace these emotions. I learned that it is OK to be angry, and sad, and scared, and frustrated, and yes. . .it was even OK for me to be truly happy for the first time in a long time. I extricated myself from my unhealthy marriage, I went to graduate school, and I created a new life for myself and my children.
So, when people ask why I don’t drink, I don't give them some long, drawn-out reason. I don't regale them with the Serenity Prayer or start 12-stepping them, I don't make excuses or apologies. I simply tell them “Because I am a better person without it.”
I am enough.