I didn’t get overly drunk at my wedding. I was too busy, making the rounds and talking to people and dancing to the playlist I painstakingly put together — and besides, the drink of choice back then was Coors Light. Weak! 🚰
It would be five years before I’d start hitting the hard stuff, and hitting the skids.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; at 29, I was regularly consuming mass quantities of alcohol and well on my way to the depths of rock bottom. But, thankfully, I have vivid and wonderful memories of Saturday, July 21, 2007, when those two well-dressed children 👶🏼 tied the knot in the upstairs banquet room at Chicago Firehouse Restaurant on South Michigan Ave., ⬆️ just a few blocks from Grant Park. ⬇️
That was 14 years ago this past Wednesday. So, my husband and I have celebrated two anniversaries this month. It goes without saying: There’s no way we would have made it to one without the other.
Our sobriety date was Sunday, July 7, 2019. Memories of that day — brace yourself; this is exciting stuff — include dumping the last drops of Jose Cuervo down the kitchen sink, sending Hubby next door to give the last drops of Patron to the neighbor (too pricey to pour out!), going to visit his sister in Montgomery County, swimming at a pool in her neighborhood, and then whining in the car on the way home that I was tired and didn’t want to go to the recovery meeting Hubby had found for me that night in Newtown, but I promised to attend another meeting during the week.
It was the following Wednesday when he drove me to a local church and led me into the basement and held my hand as I said the words “I am an alcoholic,” through tears and for the first time ever out loud, in a cramped room full of strangers.
…Some of whom are now my friends. 🙏🏻
Out of respect for the guy who pretty much saved my life, I am not going to sit here and spill all the gory details that led up to that monumental milestone. If you have any connection to addiction in your family or close social circle, you know how our story goes. You know, at least vaguely, what it’s like in a marriage when one spouse is wrapped up in a love affair with drugs.
We started out like any other fresh college grads, hanging out at parties or at bars, sitting around watching sports, listening to music, talking about our big adult jobs and big adult plans and muddling like teenagers through the uber-awkward early stages of attraction and dating — all under the influence of cheap beer. We drank every weekend, acted stupid, peed in the occasional kitchen trash can (hi J-P, just testing to see if you really read these 🤣) … and had lots of pretty harmless fun.
Flash forward 10 years, and he was angrily dragging me out of bars — occasionally after having to hunt me down first — and stewing through the night as he waited for me to sleep it off. Then he’d try to spark up a serious conversation in the morning about what the 🤬 was going on and how much I was hurting him, while I immediately changed the subject, refusing to acknowledge my egregiously selfish behavior — much less accept accountability — and continued to tunnel deeper and deeper into denial. Rinse and repeat.
I convinced myself things weren’t that bad and completely ignored how he felt about anything. Textbook addict. You don’t even need personal experience with it; if you’ve read one of the hundred-some posts I’ve written over the past two years, you know the drill.
Today, I’m just trying to focus on how grateful I am that he stuck it out long enough for me to get my shit together, and then, was willing to jump in the ring and fight for a better life along with me, rather than just watching from the sidelines.
I kind of stopped counting days once I reached 730, although by the time I had a chance to literally “mark” my second sober anniversary, it was July 11, so there are currently 733 total hashes drawn on the basement walls. I think I’m done with that now.
A while back, my sponsor suggested that I might have outgrown the rote ritual of marking time, and I should maybe consider shifting my focus. How was I filling the time? What was I doing each day to make it a little better than the day before? How was I using my recovery tools to improve myself and make a positive impact on the world around me?
That wisdom can also be applied to marriage. When you really think about it, it’s easy to stay married for X number of years. You fall into a routine and get used to going through the motions of daily life, eventually becoming “nose blind” to various issues because you just don’t have the energy or inclination to face/fix them, and you grow farther and farther apart, but it’s more of a hassle to break up than stay together.
Aaaand boom! Anniversary # Whatever! Congratulations; you said “I do”…then basically did nothing.
I mean, that’s where Hubby and I were headed. At best.
It’s a lot harder to dig in and get your hands dirty, dredging up all the ugly stuff you’ve been sweeping under the rug and owning your mistakes and shortcomings, both as a person and a partner. Then, actively working to change yourselves and break lifelong thinking and behavior patterns so you can both grow, on your own and together, is probably the hardest thing there is to do.
It takes a LOT of time and patience. There are no guarantees the process will end well. You have to want it enough to do the work every damn day.
Sobriety is very much like marriage, isn’t it?
When it comes to blending the two, we are by no means experts. We’re only two years in, working our programs and investing in biweekly individual and/or couples therapy — and, of course, keeping our home “dry.” In the time between Anniversaries 12 and 14, and on into the future, my #1 goal has been a “living amends” to my hubby, because how does one repay the kind of heavy debts I incurred?
Even these coins seem like insufficient currency.
Well, like my sponsor suggested, I can look at each day as a chance to try. And as another wise person once said: “It’s not the number of years in your life, but the amount of life in your years, that really matters.”
Instead of counting units of time, making it all really count… To the guy I promised to spend my life with 14 years ago — hey J-P, you still reading? — that is my (renewed) vow. 👰🏼🤵🏻♂️