It’s been a long time coming. I’ve woken up far too many weekday and weekend mornings wishing I hadn’t pounded glasses upon glasses (or bottle upon bottle) of wine, often until the wee hours of the morning. Hangovers suck, but they suck even worse when you have three kids under the age of six demanding your constant attention every waking second they are home. Not to mention school drop offs and pick-ups, and a full day of actual job work on top of chores, groceries, errands, and – oh yeh – all the snacks and meals everyone has to eat day in and day out.
I drank wine often and I drank it hard. What started as being part of the ever-so-popular “Mommies Who Drink Wine & Commiserate” Club, bursting with memes and jokes in texts and social media posts, gradually progressed (key word: progressed) into an uncontrollable problem.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I tried countless times to set boundaries for myself, take time off from drinking, or just quit on my own, with zero success. I started reading countless self-help books and blogs about women and mothers who successfully quit drinking. I related to every single one in some way, and was utterly inspired to have the clarity and freedom they seemed to have achieved. But I still couldn’t do it on my own.
Then, finally, THIS MOMENT came: Yesterday, I admitted myself to an intense outpatient rehabilitation program that specializes in rehab treatment, support, and continuing support throughout recovery (I loathe this word). They put me through a battery of interviews and cognitive testing, made me sit through a THREE HOUR group meeting (which I am to attend every. single. day. For 7 weeks), then ended with an hour long doctor’s visit to determine my ‘treatment plan.’
But let’s back up to that group meeting scenario, shall we? Perhaps one of the biggest barriers for me in seeking and following through with my ‘treatment’ is actually being seen in the rehab community or in an AA meeting. I live in a big little city, so to speak, and know hundreds of connected through various phases, schools, and jobs. Not to mention my children’s school and activity circles, as well. I am extremely sensitive and self-conscience when it comes to what other people think and my family’s reputation. I admit that. So just the thought of walking into that room for the first time ever, not knowing if I would know anyone, was mortifying and worrisome to me. But I took I deep breath, clenched my teeth, and walked in, secretly reassuring myself there was no way I would know anyone in this tiny room with maybe 12 people in it. Besides, they’re all alcoholics and addicts and I’m still not convinced I fit that mold. I couldn’t possibly have anything – or anyone – in common with these people.
Yup. I was dead wrong. When I walked in yesterday for the first time and quickly glanced around the room to find a seat and check these people out, the last person I saw and (barely) made eye contact with was someone I had a very personal ‘history’ with!! A former crush with whom I spent time with one summer and my second real heartbreak (but who’s counting;). Speaking of my heart, it nearly burst out of my chest the moment I realized it was him. All within a split second I didn’t know if I was going to make a run for the exit sign, pass out, or start laughing hysterically. Certainly not at him – but at the mere fact that this was actually happening in real life. This wasn’t a bad dream or romantic comedy. This was a real life moment for me. Fuck. Of all the people in this entire city, it had to be him. Put it this way: discounting my wonderful husband, he’s the only other one I really have a, eghm, bit of a physical history with. I mean it was years ago in college and most of the details have been lost on me and forgotten, but still.
What happened during the next 2.5 hours of ‘group talk’ (did I mention this was in a CIRCLE!) is mostly a blur. Between my fried nerves and trying to hold back tears of pain and laughter (it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me), I don’t remember much of the material and conversation. I mean, seriously, what were the chances? As if the tangled webs in my life couldn’t get any more tangled or interesting, let’s just throw this new little twist in for shits and giggles.
But then, something wonderful happened. During the break, he walked over and sat down next to me. With a cool confidence and gentle voice, he said some very kind and comforting words to me, and invited me to reach out to him with any questions about the program or process. He explained that he’d been sober for 6 months now and goes to this particular group session once a week for ‘continuing care.’ Holding back tears of shame and embarrassment, I nodded and thanked him. I’m not sure if I said much else.
In some strange way, what I feared the most actually became the comfort I needed. That brief and uncomfortable interaction made me realize I wasn’t alone in this struggle and actually gave me a bit more hope and determination to keep going. After my second group session today, I continue to have feelings of doubt and question whether or not I really belong here. But I am committed to seeing this through, one day and one step at a time, as I promised myself and my husband (and my kids, in my heart).
Perhaps it’s not so bad, after all, to see or be seen by others when it’s the last thing in the world you want to happen. And perhaps there’s a reason we have crossed paths again, only under very different circumstances and for very real reasons. I can still hear his teasing voice from years ago saying, “C’mon…”, but instead of being cute and funny, it’s real and honest and encouraging.
The universe works in mysterious ways.