And it still sucks ass.
Every damn day.
Yes, sober people swear a lot, because now we have to actually feel all the feels. And if you're me, feel all the feels that were already too many feels for any person to possibly feel at any given moment because God blessed me and cursed me with a shitload of feels. It hurts sometimes. It hurts a lot. It hurts every day. It hurts bad.
When I shattered the wine glass on the floor, an explosion happened. And keeps happening over and over and over, everyday I have to feel (which happens to be every day). It becomes physically and emotionally traumatizing after awhile. Not a cute explosion, like popping open a champagne bottle (yeah, i'm allowed to make that joke)… more like underground bombs trail-blazing the pathway for a new metro system. Everyone feels the quake, not just me. That’s what hurts the most.
Still, I am the lucky one. I found husband that has chosen, thus far, to journey these 500 days with me (510 to be exact). I can’t quite find the words to describe how marriage looks and feels sober. It was new territory for the both of us. Everyone is love-drunk in the first six months of marriage, whether you are actually consuming alcohol or not. And when that rubbed off, we figured out nights were more pleasant when we added wine into our evenings because I was able to calm the hell down. Naive, innocent and just gigglly. I miss that girl everyday. I grieve her freedom, her laugh. I knew it was a bad idea. The drinking. And I didn’t say anything because it worked really well. Too well. Better than my medications (which I decided to stop taking because that was totally the best idea I ever had, “I didn’t need them anymore”). People liked me, the giddy, giggly "another glass" Chloe. I could escape from myself and, besides, everyone else is drinking anyway... I mean it's just what us millennials do, right? It's the "given" of socializing now. This world has become too much for all of us to actually come together without taking the edge off.
Being completely sober, not just the "dry January detox" (or whatever it’s called)… is a completely different mindset. Like, if you didn’t have a tough day today and don’t have to drink, but you do have rough day tomorrow and could really use a harmless glass of _______ to take off the edge of your boss or kids or politics. The idea that it is there and it is accessible, alters the brain. It's not forever. Forever is not a word for the faint-of-heart. We use forever too much these days to really feel what it means.
510 days ago, the voices were begging me not to say forever... to just commit to drinking on the weekends, or just one _____ a night, or just take a month off, or just... or just… no. I knew I had to say done. Entirely. Forever. Because I know what an addict's mind would do. Because I already had experience with that. Me and the alcohol were over.
They never tell you that becoming sober makes you an outcast. Yeah, your friends may say you are brave and they are proud of you... and you're still on the outside of happy hour. They never tell you that you may never go to another social event because who the hell wants to be the only one actually "there" and having zero fun? They never tell you that you are going to be really damn bored at night. They never tell you that the games you used to play under the mask of Pinot Noir will light a fire of PTSD. They never tell you that you will be afraid of the night. Terrified of dark streets and all of the seductions that lurk in the dim lights of restaurants. The glimmers of light sparkling off of all the liquor bottles at the bar.
They never tell you that every time you go grocery shopping for cheese, you're going to be asked what kind of wine you like, and it feels like a dagger going through your chest. every. damn. time. They never tell you that you are going to have to fight off the voices, the terrors, the panic, the worry by yourself. Chamomile tea doesn’t do that. They never tell you it's going to feel like your skin is on fire at the hour of dusk. They never tell you that life will never be the same. They never tell you that it is okay to grieve it. It is okay to mourn. It is okay to be really fucking mad. It is a process that takes time. More than 500 days.
They never tell you that becoming sober will rock your marriage. Yes, it will ask you to lean on the other with your life, it will solidify a bond unlike any other... and, it will change the way you spend your time, it will change the way you communicate, it will change your hobbies, it will change who you can trust, it will change where you go, it will change how you feel, it will change the nights. every. single. night. Now, you don’t have the glass to pour your day into… you only have each other… and figuring this thing out to the best of your two, imperfect abilities. You have to find out who you truly are, down to the core. Me and you. Us. No hiding, no medicating, no taking the edge off. We are raw. We are shining a floodlight into the places we wanted to keep dark. In me, in you. There’s nothing we can reach for the fix it any more. We just have to sit and stare into the abyss. Sometimes silent, sometimes processing, sometimes crying. And we do it together. It’s messy and unpleasant. It’s brutal and terrifying. Night by night, we make it.
My husband doesn’t have the DNA of an addict, so I cannot speak for him. God bless that man for putting up with my crazy-as-hell self. For me, there has never been a night, in the 500 plus days, that I have not thought about it. That I have not yearned for red liquid to ease the pain of one who feels too much. And I still haven’t given in. One day, it may happen. I do not know anything for certain.
What I do know is that this isn’t going to have a nice conclusion paragraph. Much like the movie, 500 Days of Summer, you’re going to be left unfulfilled. Probably with lots of questions as to why you just spent time reading this. I don’t even really know why the hell I wrote it… other than, the reason I continue to write… to reach out my hand to you and tell you, you are not feeling, living or struggling alone.
You do not have to be sober. You do not have to struggle with addiction. You do not have to be crippled by your feelings. You do not have to be married. You do not have to struggle with mental illness or addiction. You do not have to put down the glass tonight. You do not have to put the glass down ever. You do not have to agree with every sentence. You do not have to know me. You do not have to respond.
Somewhere, in these 500 days, in this story… I believe you can find yourself. I believe that if we tell our stories authentically, maybe on the edge of, too-much… we will always find connection. I'm willing to take that risk. Maybe for you, it’s relating to navigating life-altering circumstances in your marriage. You will make it. Maybe for you, it’s the freedom to not have a clear ending. Maybe for you, it’s the permission to grieve what you have lost, even if what you have lost was toxic. It still hurts like hell, it meant something to you, it served a purpose... and it’s okay to scream about it.
Maybe it’s the reassurance that someone else out there feels way too much, too. Maybe it’s knowing that someone else is also yearning for the drink tonight. Maybe it’s finding another outsider to sit with you in the floodlight. Maybe you find yourself judging these words... which still means I hit a tender spot. If so, hold on and dig deeper. Maybe it’s proof that honesty won’t kill you. Even when it feels like it will. It will loosen the chains, my friend, it will loosen the chains. Every time you own your story, the chains release a little more.