10 Years

Today, August 14, 2018, I am clean and sober 10 years.

I have not taken a drink or a drug into my body for an entire decade.

That’s fucking insane.

August 14, 2008…

I had one of the worst hangovers I had ever had. Hell, they were all bad by then.

I’ve got a friend that I met in early recovery and we always used to talk about hangovers–how it’s not the drinking that gets people in the rooms–it’s the physical and mental terror and anguish that comes the morning after. 

I wasn’t going to get sober on the 14th. I had a plan. The restaurant I was working at was taking a company trip to a Tiger’s game on August 30th. It would be a complete shitshow. One last hurrah. Then I would wake up, and August 31st would be my first day without a drink.

I never made it to that baseball game.

August 14th was a Thursday. I woke up as I always did–disappointed I hadn’t died in my sleep. Still here.

I rolled my body over towards my bedside table and blindly felt around for the bottle of ibuprofen. I took 6 and washed them down with a few swigs of yellow gatorade.

Always yellow gatorade. Near the end I often mixed gatorade with vodka. I was all about balance you see, even then. Gotta keep that buzz—and those electrolytes, up.

There was something that made this hangover especially unbearable. It wasn’t just the requisite nausea or pounding headache. It wasn’t the absolute horror that would come over me when I thought about looking through my phone to see what humiliating texts or calls I had made. It wasn’t only the uneasiness of trying to piece together the night before: Who did I see? Argue with? Sleep with? Did I drive home? Where is my car?

All of this was the usual. The norm. It’s what I had been living with all of my adult life and much of my teens. All of that wasn’t it though–it wasn’t what made that Thursday so exceptionally intolerable.

It was knowledge. It was knowing. 

You see, before I got pulled over for drunk driving and sentenced to do a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do, I didn’t know that there was another way to live.

It was in a required weekly class about alcoholism and addiction that I learned that I might actually have a disease. That it was not necessarily a moral failing, that I wasn’t just a piece of shit who couldn’t get her act together.

It was at a detox center where I was court ordered to volunteer that I realized that I had all the same feelings as people who on the outside, looked as though they had fallen much further. Perhaps they were homeless, and I was not. Perhaps they had used heroin, and I had not.  Shame. Loneliness. Despair. Our insides were the same.

It was at the three AA meetings a week that a judge had decreed I attend, that I saw all different types of people who had claimed they hadn’t drank that day–laughing, smiling, and engaged with each other in a way I hadn’t ever seen. I saw a type of connection I was desperate for but terrified of. I saw people who had things I wanted–jobs they could stand going to, healthy relationships, a stable place to call home. They even had things I never knew that I wanted– like clarity and peace of mind, and the ability to respond to problems rationally instead of just react to them emotionally.

On that Thursday, I didn’t just wake up with my usual hangover. It wasn’t the migraine sized headache that left my eye twitching that I couldn’t stand. It wasn’t the diarrhea from my 90% liquid diet that had me in the bathroom till the early afternoon that was too much to take.

It was the knowledge. It was the knowing. It was actually believing that my life could be different. It was understanding that the power was in my hands, that I could make decisions that could lead me along a different path. It was recognizing that help was there, but that I had to be the one to step up and take it.

And then there it was. The fear of staying in the same place finally outgrew my fear of heading out into the unknown. 

I went to a meeting that night, gave up all my weekend shifts, and spent the next few days sick as a dog, detoxing violently by myself in my apartment. (I do not recommend this, please, seek medical attention!).

Then, I got help. Lots of help.

I’ve been sober since that day–that Thursday, August 14th, 2008.

So much has happened in between then and now. It would take forever to tell you.

Instead I will just say this: Thank you.

Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me. Thank you to alcoholics and addicts all over the world who have been there to share their story and listen to mine. Thank you to non-addicts, who have reserved judgment, and remained open and willing to gain understanding.

I’m so grateful and proud to be an alcoholic. We’re some tough fucking birds. Gritty as hell. If we can make it through the hell…

Never underestimate the power of your belief in someone. It may just carry them through, till their strong enough to believe in themselves.

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Of course this is not the whole story. If you’d like to read a little bit more about my journey with alcoholism, you can find that here. It’s actually my most read piece on the blog. Thanks so much for being open to checking it out.

 

 

 

I’m so glad we’ve found each other in the blogosphere, let’s connect on Instagram  as well! I blog once or twice a week but I’m up and “running” 😉 there daily. Please come find me! x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

95 thoughts on “10 Years

  1. Incredible. You are incredible. You have shown such strength in so many of your posts, but without hiding your vulnerability. You are so real. And you have fought huge battles to get to where you are today. I love that the day you became sober was just a random Thursday – you didn’t have your final hurrah but you knew it was time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this might be one of the biggest compliments I have ever gotten. Thank you girl. I think one of my biggest goals in life is to show other people that vulnerability IS strength. So you saying this means a whole lot to me.

      And yes, just a random thursday–isn’t that life? I had other plans, but the Universe said it was time. ❤

      Like

  2. You say it to me all the time, but wow, so much Grit girl!! It takes so much courage and strength to do what you did 10 years ago. You are an inspiration and not just in this. I love your journey and am impressed constantly with how you greet life.

    Keep swimming 😉 x

    Like

  3. Pingback: Am I Failing? – cat h. bradley

  4. Congratulations Cat! Continue to share your story as you never know who you will inspire to take those first steps toward change. My story is not as dramatic, but our ends would have been the same if not for the will to change. I’ve been clean and sober for about 25 years and am enjoying this life so much more than all the ‘good times’ I thought I was having.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Denny! I think this is something we all need to hear–to continue to share our story cause we never know who we will inspire. That is so true. A lot of us don’t realize the value of our own experience. What we think of as “falls” or “mistakes” can actually be huge assets and can really contribute to someone else’s experience.
      I also love that mention the will to change cause it’s something i have been discussing with my hubs and other alcoholics in recovery lately. It’s so key. There are people from more and less privileged backgrounds–higher and lower bottoms–but all that shit doesn’t really matter. It’s that WILL to change–to go to any length to have a different life. I am not sure why i was so lucky to get that, to have that desperation. But i am so grateful for it every single day.
      Congrats on 25 years, that is incredible. And thank you so much for this kind and really thoughtful comment. Hope to hear more from you! x

      Like

  5. AMAZING, congratulations! I have been sober for one month and twenty-two days. Safe to say the journey getting to that point was rough, but now that I am here, I am never looking back. Thank you for sharing your story, truly inspirational 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lauren!! So I am hoping I am reaching you now at 1 month and 26 days? That is SO amazing. I know it might sound funny, but I think your time is far more impressive than mine! I guess cause I’ve been through it and i know that for me, the first 90 days were especially hard. Trust me, STAYING sober is a hell of a lot easier than GETTING sober. i honestly don’t know if I have another “get” in me, which is why I stay close to my recovery and really make it a priority. I am so happy for you for the start you’ve made and hope it is going well so far. Stay strong–also feel free to reach out anytime–on here, and you can also find me on IG. So happy to “meet” you! x

      Like

  6. diorella

    Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story. 10 years is huge! I found your blog because of the Catalyst FB group…I’m also a Catalyst in training and am in the June Co-hort! I will find you on IG and connect with you there! Congratulations again! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Diorella! SO thrilled to connect with you on here and on IG! Hope you are enjoying your cohort so far–I am in the April one and cannot believe we are almost done. It went by way too fast! Very exciting things to come though. So glad we’ve got these two streams to connect on now–so great to meet you. Can’t wait to read your blog as well! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. diorella

        YES! I am loving my cohort! I keep saying that the experience has been WAY MORE than I expected…do you feel that way too?

        Like

  7. Brilliant Cat, and although I’m a recent convert to your blog, it’s fair to say from day one of reading it, I was inspired by your raw guts, truth and honesty. Well done to you – the 10 years is an amazing milestone, but truthfully each and every day is one too. Your old alcohol oriented life another day in the distance whilst your new life awaits you every tomorrow. Congratulations and can I say – girl you’re looking good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my lady Jan! I think having “raw guts” might be one of the biggest compliments I have ever received. Something i go for but never quite feel like i meet–so thank you!
      Thank you for always being so supportive and for your own determined nature. I love reading your blog because while i can tend to complicate the hell out of things–you tend to just get out there and run and live life, without so much fuss over whether you’re doing it “right”. That’s how I want to be–thank you for showing it to me. Lots of love friend. x

      Like

  8. Amazingly powerful, raw and honest writing Cat, like everything else you’ve written on the subject! Congratulations on what I am sure is your first of many decades of sobriety, and thank you for being such an inspiration to so many of your readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Leonard! A “decade”, I can hardly believe that word now applies to me–very grateful! Very appreciative to have you as one of my readers–you are part of such a thoughtful, open, and inspiring bunch and I really couldn’t feel more lucky! x

      Like

  9. Although everyone’s journey to sobriety is different, I applaud your accomplishment. I never considered myself an alcoholic, but I saw it was getting in my way of getting through college. One embarrassing night was all it took. I quit drinking in February 1985. That’s 33 years. I haven’t missed it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kendra Lee

    congratulations! I love everything about this. And I knew, too…before I got sober, I had friends in recovery and I could see them LIVING their lives. Not just existing. And it seemed so real, so full of hope that one day I decided that I wanted a shot at THAT life. October will be 10 years for me–with a lot of hard work & grace. I wish there was a word that felt more full of love and joy than “congratulations” but it’s all I’ve got right now. But I hope you know the heart that is behind it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES Kendra, the LIVING! That was the thing. Before sobriety i was honestly just waiting to die. And you know what? I feel like i am one of those alcoholics who wouldn’t die if i kept drinking, no matter how sick i got. I would just keep existing, miserably. Very grateful!
      So awesome we are 2008 babies together, I love it! Also–I know what you mean about congratulations–but trust, me, it’s more than enough. All of this is so much. Thank you Kendra!! x

      Like

  11. Just wonderful, I wish the judicial system here recommended people who end up in the courts for alcohol related crimes go to AA. Maybe some do but I don’t believe it’s normal. Well done darling Cat Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seriously saved my life S! It’s crazy cause i knew a bunch of people who got DUI’s before me, and they didn’t have to do any of what i had to do (all of them still drink). When i was in front of the judge i told him that i had never drank and drove before, and that i barely even drank, it was just a random mistake and bad judgement that night. He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry young lady, but for some reason, I don’t believe you.” then he threw the book at me and sentenced me to all those different things–classes, volunteering, and meetings. SAVED. MY LIFE.
      And then I got to fly to Ireland and meet you. Thank you judge <3.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Steph!! So much! I have to tell you–you are one of the people i look up to when it comes to that willingness to learn and grow. Your triathlons, your writing. I see you being open to what life brings and it encourages me as well. Thank you for being such an amazing example of how to do life. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so proud of you – that picture shows a fierce, determined woman who has, no doubt, inspired many others to take similar steps in their lives. I hope you’re celebrating in a way that makes you feel every bit as alive as you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, Hillary! This means so much to me! I can’t explain how wonderful it feels when someone says they are proud of you. Thank you friend!
      And yes–celebrating this weekend with my hubs and my sis. One of the gifts of growing up and maturing i think is the realization that it’s important to celebrate these days, to acknowledge them!
      thanks girl! x

      Like

  13. Congrats!! Whether tackling a marathon or another day sober, we do it one day, one run at a time!! And we get to do it with a bunch of bozos who can laugh and cry together as we gratefully trudge the road of happy destiny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh Tim, I couldn’t agree more! Literally the last 6 miles of the marathon i think almost all i thought about was being sober and the concept of one day at a time and one STEP at a time. It’s seriously what pulled me through!
      And yes, could not be more grateful for my bunch of bozos that i laugh and cry with–every week!
      Thanks for sharing Tim! x

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations doesn’t seem like a big enough word. “The power was in my hands..” Those words are so important. I stopped and read them a couple times. You have a gift for writing, and I believe your writing will save others.

    I just started Instagram this week. Still figuring it out…but I’ll go look for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations is plenty big enough for me–but i know exactly what you mean! I have been thinking that when trying to communicate with other people lately. There are a lot of people I am proud of ;).
      You know, the power in my hands thing–I honestly think that’s the entire key to addiction. There can be so much that’s happened to us and gone wrong–and sure, some of it is not our fault. But if we’re waiting for the world to offer an amends to us to get our lives together, we never will. Once i understood that i was the only one who could save me–that i had to take responsibility for myself, it was actually incredibly freeing. It meant that someone else did not have control over my life! It meant that I could have a good life, even if you were shitty to me–cause i could choose it, and actively do things to get it! That made me feel very powerful, and still does.

      Thank you so much for your support and for your kind words Dawn–my Michigan friend!
      Glad we found each other on IG–love seeing your gorgeous photos in my feed! x

      Like

    1. I am getting to your other comment i swear!!!! Girl you are gonna have me back on Espanol for real! I love it. (although it’s gonna be a while till i start responding in spanish, ok? lol). gracias lady. x

      Like

  15. Congratulations Cat! That is quite the accomplishment. I have an uncle who just celebrated 25 year’s sober this summer:) Unfortunately other members of my family haven’t managed that.

    Liked by 1 person

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