One year ago today, I had my last drink.
On that day, I was a stranger to myself.
Up until that moment, I felt a darkness in my life that pervaded every ounce of my being. Most days, I lived inside a feeling of perpetual gloom, allowing alcohol to dictate my worth. On the outside, I appeared self-assured and at ease with myself, but on the inside, I was falling apart.
I felt as if I existed nearly every day at the bottom of a deep, shadowy hole in the earth, staring up at the people around me, wondering how to climb up and out to the light above. How could I reach my children? My husband?
Sometimes I was successful at clambering my way up the sides of the dark chasm, my fingernails digging into the crumbling earth as pieces of it fell away beneath me. I would struggle up from the lonely abyss and find my way to solid ground every now and again, emerging into the light—dazed and often confused.
At times, I tried to exist above that hollow chamber, but I often lost the strength.
Eventually, I would fall back even deeper below the surface of the ground, further away from the ones I loved. Allowing the substance to take over once again. For a while, I felt placated within the safety of my little hole, because I could avoid the looks of others. The problems of the real world up above were hidden for a bit, and I could silence the noise. It was easier to live within the shadows of my secrets.
But the darkness began to wear on me.
I began to sink further and further away from the light.
My space was filled with a murkiness that began to suffocate me, and I was unable to climb to the surface as easily anymore.
My flailing and kicking only made it worse, and I was beginning to sink, deeper and deeper. It felt like quicksand. It got to the point where I could not see the light any longer. The space above me began to close in, and instead of the joyful, familiar faces of my loved ones I only saw disappointment and shame looming above. Discomfort was all I knew.
On this day, one year ago, I finally found the courage to ask for help.
I pleaded. I sobbed. And hands pulled me up and away from the deep, angry hole that was my life.
I said, “No more.” I said, “Would you help me stop?” I cried.
Now. Today. I am no longer sinking. No longer drowning in darkness. The dark chasm has disappeared, and instead there is nothing but wide open, graceful stretches. Expansive, endless paths to search.
I look around now and I am no longer stuck. I am not spending my days crawling up and out. Clawing at the earth, tunneling my way through dirt, tree roots, and rocks.
I have found quietude. I was lucky enough to get away. I was able to discover the light, as I had escaped the darkness at last.
My world is now brighter. It is colorful, fragrant, and beautiful.
Today, alcohol no longer controls me.
Today, and every day, belongs to me.
Today, I am free.