The best advice I ever received in my life is this:
“You don’t have to ride the truck all the way to the dump to know where it’s going.”
I took my last drink of alcohol on February 7, 2007. ‘Drink’ should be plural because, believe me, if I was capable of taking ‘a’ drink on that night or any night, then I wouldn’t be marking this anniversary.
6 years ago yesterday. Huh.
I’m likely supposed to feel pride in that accomplishment. And it’s not that I don’t. Exactly. I certainly don’t have negative feelings about it. I just can’t really pinpoint how to describe it and I know pride doesn’t quite fit.
When I think of the quintessential rock bottom, I picture someone waking up in a gutter wondering how they got there, friendless, family-less and broke. Did I hit that rock bottom? No.
I’ve written and then deleted descriptions of the year preceding 2/7/2007, especially the preceding six months when I was in a downward spiral of depression and self-destruction, but I can’t quite bring myself to publish that. Cowardice, shame, whatever. It wasn’t everyone’s rock bottom, but it was mine. It took far longer than it should have for me to acknowledge I had a problem. It is amazing how well reasonably intelligent, professional, inherently controlling people can hide that sort of thing. And certainly, it takes a while before such people admit they can’t fix themselves.
No-one can hide it forever, though, and eventually, cracks in the surface can’t be smoothed over anymore. Though I can think of multiple incidents during that last six months that should have forced me to get some help, it was one colossal parenting fail that finally made me look at myself honestly. I hold myself up to impossible parenting standards anyway and to fail spectacularly because I was basically a drunk still makes my skin crawl. Finally though, finally, I stopped and asked myself, “Really? This is the person you want to be?” I’d already lost some friends at that point and my career was beginning to be adversely affected, but I began to get it together.
I don’t deal with daily cravings for a drink and I am usually perfectly comfortable with alcohol in the house. On the rare occasion I’m not, it is disposed of or taken elsewhere. I know I can’t take the first drink, because I also know without question, if I take one, I’m incapable of not following it with forty more. Lay’s potato chips used to say, “You can’t eat just one.” It’s an apt description of me and vodka.
During the time period following February 7th, I expressed skepticism at my accomplishment since my rock bottom didn’t include a gutter and I still retained most of my possessions; dignity, being intangible and all, doesn’t count. And that was when a very kind man, who was familiar with my story, explained, “You don’t have to ride the truck all the way to the dump to know where it’s going.” It may be odd but I find that very comforting. It seems like such a simple statement, but it has a lot of layers. Wisdom wrapped in simplicity usually does.
In February 2007, the Divine Miss M was in kindergarten, and blissfully clueless. The only thing she knows now is that I don’t drink. It’s been six years. My life is such a contrast to what it was then. A partner who remains far out of my league but chose me, anyway. Miss M who surrounds us with twelve year old sassiness and an enviable amount of moxy. Living in a town they describe as ‘twenty five miles surrounded by reality,’ my days are filled with mountain views and laid back people and the ability to just be. I look around at this life I’d never have had if I’d stayed on that truck and I settle on … grateful. Grateful is the right word.