4 Months Sober
Time has gone by so fast, I almost forgot today marks 4 months sober! Yay me!
Things over my way are going really well for the most part. The pink clouds of early sobriety (where everything is super-beautiful and rosy) are slowly settling into the standard white fluffy sort.
I’m still more consistently happy than I’ve ever been in adulthood, and life is really pleasant these days.
That’s not to say it’s all sunshine and candy.
Last week something happened that hit me like a ton of bricks, and it has been challenging to cope. I’ll explain.
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Adoption & Alcohol Abuse
I was adopted at birth and that has caused a lot of inner conflict over the years.
As a child, not once did I feel like I “belonged”. I didn’t look like any of my adoptive family members and never really formed those close bonds I’d always heard existed within families.
Other unpleasant things came packaged in with that, too. But these days I’m not inclined to whine about things I can’t change.
I just assumed being given away by the one person who should have loved me the most was the starting point for all that followed.
For the longest, I considered that to be the chief cause of my drinking.
To an extent, I may have been right.
Research has shown that adopted adults are at increased risk of substance abuse disorders.
From personal experience, I can see why. I always assumed that drinking was my way of escaping some of the horrors of my personal history. But last year the unthinkably unexpected happened: I found my birth family.
Adoption Reunion Is Crazy
I might talk more about this whole thing in detail later if you’re interested (let me know if so)! But adoption reunion has been a wild, wild ride.
In the beginning, it was a flurry of wildly obsessive emotion. At one point my biological mother (bio-mom) and I would be e-mailing, video chatting and sending texts all at the same time!
For the first couple weeks, we couldn’t get enough of each other and it was like a new romantic relationship. The juvenile kind where you see someone for the first time, instantly fall in love and have to be together. The kind where nothing else matters.
As you may imagine, that was completely unsustainable.
It exploded in spectacular fashion and has been rocky ever since.
In fact, I was moderating my alcohol intake very successfully up until the day we found each other. That reunion sent me off the deep end. I fell hard and took several months to pull myself back together.
Anyway, my main reason for telling you this backstory is that it came full-circle and knocked me on my ass last weekend.
You see, before my relationship with bio-mom exploded for the first time (we’re good-ish for now), I asked about genetic predisposition to things like cancer and diabetes.
One of the things I hated most about adoption was having no way of knowing these things. So I was so happy to find out that my bloodline was healthy!
When asked about drinking bio-mom said she doesn’t drink and nobody in the family really drank either, so I immediately put concern for genetic predisposition to alcoholism out of my head, too. Score!
But I didn’t bother asking my dad’s side of the family.
Two Sides To Every Story
When I first chose to try 100 days sober, I didn’t tell anyone other than my husband and one of my newfound cousins.
While at brunch last weekend, I told new cuzzo all about this sobriety blog and went a little deeper into what pushed me to quit drinking in the first place.
It was shocking how comfortable I felt telling this beautiful stranger all the gory details of my alcohol abuse. I instantly trusted her and felt deeply connected to her unlike anybody before.
People who were raised with their biological families say “just because we’re blood relatives means nothing”!
I call bullshit. But let me stay on target…
What completely knocked me on my ass was cuzzo sharing issues with alcohol on dad’s side of the family.
That shit is deep in my blood and I had no way of knowing this incredibly crucial piece of information!
I was furious. Still am.
I think it’s so crappy how children are just handed off to strangers and not allowed to know anything about their history.
We aren’t pets. We’re people.
I’m not suggesting if I’d known alcoholism runs in my family, I’d have stayed away from drinking.
I had my first sip at 17, after all. Teenagers notoriously make bad decisions. But maybe?
Maybe the past seventeen years of struggle could have been different.
Just knowing that one fact could have saved me so much self-hatred and confusion and wondering “what’s wrong with me”? I at least would have known.
Maybe that certain level of comfort that sent me back to relapse oh so many times would never have come.
Those times where I’d get confident that “I’m FIXED” and go back in and drink again — only to lose. I’d have at least had some idea that I’d always lose.
I feel cheated, robbed and angry. Also a little confused. Like, I’m sure being adopted and all that followed absolutely had a lot to do with why I drank so much. But how much?
Even without those things, would I still have had the same fate just because of genetics?
It’s just weird.
Adoption as a whole is weird and confusing and disturbing. Addiction is weird and confusing and disturbing. Dealing with both at the same time is… really fucking weird and confusing and disturbing lol.
The Power Of Self-Compassion
Lucky for me, I’d forgiven myself already. I decided to look at it from an outsider’s point of view.
Choosing to observe my patterns of behavior as those of an abandoned little girl who had grown into a terrified, lost woman… I “got” it.
Today, at 4 months sober, I have compassion for that girl and that woman. We all have our faults, but I forgave myself for mine and chose to move forward with grace, dignity, and strength.
This discovery heightens my self-compassion.
While I’m angry, I’m also okay. Like, I’m glad I forgave and understood already. This just adds an additional layer of understanding. Maybe it really wasn’t my fault? I still don’t really know.
I’ve clearly got more thinking and figuring out to do. More deep conversations. More forgiveness.
But oh my goodness it’s so energizing to consider how far I’ve come!
A year ago I would have buried these feelings in a bottle of Bombay, only for them to resurface later in vomit and regret.
Now, at 4 months sober, I have an arsenal of healthy ways to handle earth-shattering occurrences and I’m working it on out, baby!
Blogging, spending quality time with loved ones, staying physically active… these are gifts that sobriety has given me and I definitely don’t want to look back.
4 Months Sober — What To Expect
There are two things I’d love for you to take away from my experiences of 4 months sober.
First, think the biggest thing is that you don’t always have control over every situation, and you won’t always have all the answers.
In this case, I got some insight to “why” I had alcohol issues a little bit, but that could easily never have come. And it still may not be telling the whole truth anyway.
If your problem is drinking or regretting things you’ve done in the past or any number of things, you just gotta accept the past for what it was, love yourself unconditionally and try to do better no matter what. You’re not perfect and you won’t always get it right, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forgive yourself and give yourself the chance to grow and improve.
[bctt tweet=”You should always be improving anyway. If you’re doing it right, the old you is supposed to be worse off than the future you.” username=”soberalley”]
At 4 months sober the second thing I’d like you to take away would be to know that life will still throw you curveballs.
The newness of sobriety will wear off and it will become more of your new status quo. You can’t drown the bad, hard, nasty difficult stuff with gin anymore. You have to face it straight on.
But it is better. I promise it’s better because once you’ve passed that difficult emotion it doesn’t really resurface later. I mean, it can, but not in the same way. It resurfaces lighter if that makes sense. And it doesn’t come back in anger or regret. It comes back weaker than you are, and that’s what you want.
Anyway, onward to month 5 for me… I can’t wait to give another update next month!
I hope my story is helpful and inspiring. Drop me a line if you have any questions!