When I first met my husband I was in Alcoholics Anonymous and had been for a couple of years. I told him I couldn’t be around anyone who drank or did any kind of drugs as my sobriety was my priority. He had no problem with that. He was a busy man working his own business at the time. A year or so later I went to visit my older sister for her birthday; it was a surprise for her. It was a surprise, she was having a party at her house and there was drinking and smoking weed going on. Smoking pot had always been my weakness, having started at the age of 16. Well, I smoked with her. As that had broken my “sobriety”, I drank wine with my husband when I got home.
Alcohol started being a regular part of our life. We both had addictive personalities as a way of dealing with life. Alcohol didn’t prevent us from being productive members of society, but it did become an everyday thing. For the next 30 years we drank together. I have some wonderful memories of Keith making amazing home brew, having it in kegs where it was easy to pour from, and he would deliver beers to my girlfriend and I in the hot tub. Sweet memories. Then, when we moved from the small town where we lived for 20 years, we no longer made home brew but we did continue to drink. The night he took his life elsewhere we had been drinking wine. AA talks about jails institutions or death if the alcoholic goes back to drinking.
After his death I contemplated sobriety but couldn’t manage it. I enjoyed having a couple of beers to “relax me”. Even during my cancer treatments, I would allow myself the occasional beer as my only “sugar”, my sugar of choice. I knew and was reminded of how cancer feeds on sugar.
Last fall when I moved into the sweet little ohana I live in now; I bought myself a six-pack of beer. I drank three the first night, the other three the next night. Then I realized I couldn’t afford to continue drinking and afford to pay rent on this place. I had been a house sitter/caretaker/care giver for the past five years since coming to Hawaii. Now I was finally in a sweet little place of my own and I want to stay there and not go back to the unknowing of “where will I be next month, three months from now, next year”. I can stay here as long as I want and can continue to come up with the monthly rent. I believe the Universe provides and work has come my way to continue paying rent here.
So, I have cruised along and have over six months of being clean and sober. I do have tequila in the freezer and wine in the fridge. I also have a small bud of cannabis stashed. It feels good to be able to choose NOT to use any of those crutches, escapes, mind altering substances. I have them available if I want them, but I choose not to. It is a feeling of power I guess.
This time of year has been difficult for me as the anniversary of Keith taking his life elsewhere rolls around. Each year I get better in respect to where I am emotionally and spiritually but the grief is something that my therapist says will be with me forever. It may change and get easier probably, but will always be with me. I sat down and wrote the story of the night he died about a month ago. It helped me with a major purge, a release, a letting go of the horror of that night in a new way. However the grief is still tender.
One day last week I really wanted to drink. I didn’t want the alcohol I have on hand, I wanted to go to a bar, sit there and have a beer and visit with other people. Afternoon beers at the local watering hole has been one of my favorite past times for the last five years. This was the strongest urge to drink I have had since I quit August 23, 2020. I finally decided I would go ahead and go into town and run the errands that needed taken care of.
I pulled into town, checked mail and noticed the “I Want Ice Cream” shop across the parking lot. Ah ha, Ice Cream, that would help me with my urge for alcohol. Must be the sugar buzz I was craving. So I went and got myself a double dip in a sugar cone, Macadamia nut and Kona coffee. Mmmmm!! I hopped in my car and continued down the road to my next chore. Not far down the road that ice cream cone broke and I ended up with the ice cream down my front. I was able to grab a napkin and rescue it, holding onto it till I could safely pull over and get a plastic cup out of the back seat of my car to put it into. I put every bit of that broken sugar cone in the cup as I really wanted the sugar buzz, and I wanted it to “fix me”. I enjoyed some of it then continued on my way.
I continued on with my errands, driving past a few of the local watering holes but not pulling in. I went to the health food store to pick up the things I needed and bought my very first bag of potato chips in the year 2021. Organic in avocado oil, healthy, and a small bag, only 5 servings. 😉 If I don’t buy them, I don’t have to fight myself to resist eating the whole bag! As the urge to drink was still nagging at me, I was hoping that doing something “bad” would ease the desire for alcohol. Back in the car, I am munching on the chips, enjoying the flavor of the “healthy chips” but still feeling that niggling urge to go have a beer.
My next stop was the drug store to pick up a couple of items I needed. I ended up in line behind a woman who was in her late 70’s early 80’s, I’m guessing. She was shopping for herself and a friend. She was having some difficulties in sorting the items, but I was feeling calm and patient, watching as she paid for her few items. Once she got those items into the cart she started on her friends items. The checker rang up the items and the woman exclaimed that the prices were too high. Her friend could not afford that and the checker started the refund process.
Just then a man, probably early 40’s, swept in from the side and offered to pay for the woman’s items. I let him slide in front of me to get to the checker. He only had two items and presented his card to pay for his items and the woman’s items. He introduced himself as Daniel and the woman replied her name was Hope. She couldn’t believe he would step up and pay for her items. He responded that there had been a time in his own life when he hadn’t been able to pay for something he needed and someone had helped him out. Since that time, he has helped out others any opportunity he can. He went on to say that often somewhere down the road, he is “rewarded” far more than what he gave out. He explained that is not the reason he helps others, it is because he will never forget that feeling when he couldn’t pay for what he needed and someone graciously helped him. That feeling of humble gratitude will forever be with him.
As I stood there watching this act of loving kindness roll out in front of me, my heart was filled with love, and the urge to have a drink totally diminished. I walked out of the drug store with a glow about me having witnessed such a beautiful human exchange. Being a witness to loving kindness kept me sober for one more day.
One of the things I realized that day is that I need to stay humble in my sobriety. I am only one beer away from being back on the routine of drinking my life away. That is not what I want to do. I want to live the best life I can. I want to share loving kindness with all who cross my path. I sit here in gratitude as I finish this story of Hope, and her hero Daniel. Thank you to the Universe for putting me there at that time, to experience the rich gifts of life and love.
Post Script – Last summer I participated in a 30 day challenge to look at my drinking habits and to learn more about how alcohol affects us. For anyone struggling with or wondering about their alcohol consumption, I highly recommend The Alcohol Experiment. I can’t say enough good about the program. It opened me up to be ready to take my own steps towards sobriety.