My sobriety story isn’t typical. I wasn’t addicted to drugs or pills or alcohol. I wouldn’t say I had an “addiction” at all. However, every three months or so, I would go out and get pretty trashed. I would just drink to get drunk. I would do it to “loosen up” and to feel more confident in a body I wasn’t truly comfortable in and wake up the next morning feeling physically horrible. When I’d find out things I had done and things I had said, I’d feel embarrassed and ashamed and just ultimately horrible emotionally, too. I was never the type of person who had a glass of wine after work to unwind. I never really liked the taste of alcohol. It wasn’t something I’d do UNLESS I was trying to get drunk.
Two years ago, I made the decision to stop drinking. Not because I genuinely felt like I had a problem, but because two years ago, I met my husband. When he told me he was newly sober (nine months to be exact), I actually almost ran for the hills. I took his sobriety as a red flag—that he was “damaged goods” and that I would be asking for trouble down the line if I decided to pursue a relationship with him. Looking back, not only was this naïve but it was completely unfair to him (and to me). Andrew had been completely honest and transparent with me from the beginning about his life and his journey to get sober—a decision that he made to ultimately improve (and save) his life.
Andrew told me stories about how alcohol had taken relationships away from him and eventually almost his life. I never wanted to meet that Andrew—the Andrew that got blackout drunk and did and said things to hurt the people closest to him. I will never know that person. Our children will never know that person. I made the decision to do whatever I could to support him in leaving that person in the past.
I didn’t know Andrew when he drank, but in the short two years we have known each other, I’ve noticed a slow and gradual change in my husband. When we first met, he was shy and quiet. Two years later (almost three years into his sobriety), my husband is actually more outgoing now than he was when we first met. He told me how he used to use drinking to break down social barriers as a way for him to loosen up and have fun (don’t we all?). He has pretty much had to re-teach himself how to have a conversation sober. It has been wonderful watching him grow into the man he is now.
I’ve heard people say that you can’t get sober for someone else—that you have to do it for yourself. Well, yes, it ultimately was my choice. Andrew never asked me or tried to convince me to get sober. He never even mentioned it. I just did it. I got sober out of respect and support for my husband.
I know a lot of people who treat the word SOBER as if it were a disease or a dirty word—heck, I used to be that person—when it really is the exact opposite. It takes a lot of will power and determination to fight an addiction that, for most addicts, began at a pretty early age—without us even realizing it. Some people NEVER acknowledge or admit or even realize that they have a problem. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who makes the decision to get sober. Now that I am on the other side of the word, I usually choose not to tell people that I am “sober”—only that I don’t drink. Why? Not because I am ashamed—I am very proud to be sober. However, I have quickly learned that people immediately get uncomfortable as soon as they hear the word “sober”.
When I first met Andrew, I remember having people weigh in with their two cents and telling me to give Andrew the boot. I also had people encourage me to give him a shot. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to the naysayers. I knew if I was going to go all in, it was all-or-nothing. I felt the best way I could support Andrew in his sobriety was to get sober myself. I just kept putting myself in his shoes and how hard it would be for me if I were the one trying to get sober, and my husband continued to go out and drink. Drinking was adding nothing to my life anyways—nothing good. Looking back on it all, yes, I did get sober to support my husband, but ultimately, I got sober for myself. I am a better person now than I ever was when I was drinking.
Am I knocking any person who still enjoys the occasional drink? No, of course not! Every relationship dynamic and every person is different. I just knew in MY heart that it was the right decision for ME and for US. By deciding to make this life-change, it would be just that—a life change. I will never drink ever again—a sacrifice I would gladly make 10 times over for the sake of our marriage and to support someone I love.