This is my sober “coming out” story to my Facebook friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years. Posting this was scary, but the response was overwhelming. I’m sharing it here just in case it makes someone feel a little less alone.
Dear Facebook Friends,
I’ve been hiding a secret in plain sight.
I’M AN ALCOHOLIC.
Some of you already know. Some of you partied with me and don’t need to read the painstaking detail of every gutter I barfed in during my drinking career. You watched a lot of it happen.
But for those of you who don’t know, my name is Molly, and I’m an alcoholic. I probably have been for the last decade, though it progressed significantly in the last two years.
To those of you on the fringes of my orbit, it may have seemed like I had a perfect life. I’m 31 years old. I live in the most beautiful city in America. All of my needs are met. I am college-educated and have had a great career. I have the best partner I could have ever asked for. I do a lot of really cool stuff. I get to travel the world. Hell, I even have a pretty good credit score. And most important, I have a permasmile plastered on my face.
But there was always one tiny problem. I was a mess.
Oh, also my brain felt like it was rotting out of my skull from depression, anxiety and self-loathing. Many of you may be surprised to know that I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. I’ve endured a lot of trauma, especially in my early life. Verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Rape (a few times). Bullying. Stalking. Brainwashing. Sexual Harassment. Infertility. Chronic Stress. Etc.
So instead of allowing myself to feel those emotions like a normal person, I anesthetized them nearly every single night. I couldn’t stand to not feel numb. The only time I felt like I could breathe was when the fizz of a cool drink was swimming down my throat.
In early February 2016, I woke up sick and feeling like my soul had been scraped out with a butter knife. I woke up feeling this way most mornings. Why did I keep doing this to myself? I seemed to lack the “off” switch that normal humans possess once they’ve had a few. I don’t know why that morning was different, but it was. The whisper in the back of my head saying “the jig is up” escalated to a shout.
You don’t give up the sauce because of a bad hangover or the shame of a few drunk texts. (To those of you I’ve messaged while inebriated, I sincerely apologize. As the distinguished scholar T-Pain once said, “Blame it on the al-al-al-al-cohol.”) You give it up because you don’t recognize yourself anymore. You give it up because you’re terrifying yourself. You give it up because you’ve become a shell of the person you once were. I suppose I was sick of feeling terrified all the time.
I tried to quit on my own for three months or so because I’m a stubborn prick who thinks she has superhuman strength. As you can imagine, that didn’t turn out so well, so I went to plan B and checked myself into rehab.
I’ve been sober for almost 70 days. Sixty-six, to be exact.
I can never have another sip again. And you know what? It’s awesome. When I first started on this journey, I wondered how I would ever have fun again. I thought it was the end of my life. But as it turns out, life without booze is a blast. I even love myself for the first time ever. And I can breathe slowly and deeply, without any chemical assistance.
I’ve been hemming and hawing about putting this out there for awhile. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. But I figure if I spill my insides out onto the table, maybe someone will read it and feel a little less alone. In fact, in the last several days, more and more friends and acquaintances have come out of the woodwork to say:
“Guess what? Me too.”
This post originally appeared on MollyBeane.com.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.