When life became limited by my growing dependence on alcohol, I started to fantasize about quitting. I even gave imaginary TED talks about my escape from what felt like a nightmare. The visualizations were hopeful and fleeting. I was exhausted by the 24-hour cycle of detox-to-retox. But as I poured a drink each night, and hoped maybe tomorrow would be different, I longed for change.
One morning, my attempt to outrun a hangover was interrupted. Without consulting my brain, my hand had used my phone to search-and-dial the AA hotline. I guess my body decided it was sick of my shit. Minutes later, standing in the middle of a country road, I was in an online 12-step meeting. Camera off. Heart open. Tears streaming down my face. My resistance faded as I uttered the passwords: “My name is Colleen, and I’m an alcoholic.”
I spent the next year doing all the things expected of sober people–attending meetings, working the steps and following the rules. I internalized the conventional beliefs about alcoholism and recovery and trusted what I was told. Honestly, avoiding alcohol was pretty easy because I felt so much better without it. It was figuring out what "not drinking" meant about me as a person that seemed complicated.
Because it felt ridiculous to refer to myself an an alcoholic after I quit drinking.