One Year Sober

One year ago I had a friend who had a problem with alcohol.

One year ago my friend was in a car accident.

One year ago my friend had the extreme luck to have walked away from that accident physically unscathed and not having to carry the burden of having hurt anyone else.

One year ago there was information being shared.   Information that stunned us when we found out how large a part alcohol played in my friend’s life.

One year ago I Was Plenty Angry Enough:

I got up this morning and saw I had a text. It had not awakened me during the night. It was a 2 a.m. text. You know what that means. It’s either a drunk text. Or something bad.

It was to let me know a friend of mine is “okay”. Which is also an indicator of something not good.

She was okay, but she was in an accident.

And she had been drinking.

I’m not writing this to point out the obvious about drinking and driving. I’ve done that. She’s done that. We’ve had that discussion.

But the thing about drinking and driving, getting in an accident and not being hurt…

She is damn lucky. As is any one else who was in her path last night.

I don’t mind pointing out a few more things though.

She is lucky for quite a few more reasons.

Right now any of us who care about her are angry and she is safe. I am angry because she made a decision that not only put her at risk, but many others. I am angry because she totaled her car. She escaped with her life. I’m not angry she escaped with her life. I’m angry that she didn’t value it as much as we do.

I’m angry…

But not as angry as I would be if she had been hurt or killed.

Then I would be grieving. I would be grieving because this person who has value to my life, her family’s life, her friend’s lives, and the lives of the people she comes in contact with on a daily basis, would be grieving. And we would be angry at her for doing this. And then we would be feeling guilty for being angry. And then more anger on top of all of that because it is so senseless.

And as angry as I would be about her being hurt or killed, I don’t think I could deal with the anger if she had hurt or killed someone else. For all of the bad things that happen in life, drinking and driving is 100% preventable.

I told her I did not think I could look at her if she had hurt or killed anyone.

The simplest lesson I learned in determing if you have a problem with alcohol:

If you have problems when you drink alcohol-you have a problem with alcohol.

I fully understand and comprehend addiction and the hold it has on people. Addiction is a disease. I know the physical, and the psychological, hold that addiction has and the gut wrenching process of dealing with it.

I know these things.

But if she had been killed, or killed another, none of the things I know about addiction would have mattered at all.   I have the blessing of being angry at her today, she is not dead, and no one has been physically hurt.

But should there be a next time-

I don’t want her luck to be used up when she is on the road that my children, my grandchildren, her family, and innocent unknowns are traveling.

I want this to be the angriest I ever have to get with her.

Because it’s plenty angry enough.

The “what if’s” of last night are not what is keeping me awake tonight.  It’s the “what if’s” of tomorrow if she ever does this again  and not I, or anyone who loves her, is reason enough for her to love herself.

One year later sobriety is what drives her.

One year later change is key.

One year later she told her story for the first time to a group gathered together to try and help one another get, and/or stay, sober.

One year later I still have a friend who will always have a problem with alcohol.

Today she called me to tell me about the lead she shared for the first time at one of her Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

One year later she is still alive.

And I believe it’s because she is one year sober.

For anyone struggling with addiction I hope you find the help and care you need.  People do care.  And you are worth caring about. 

56 thoughts on “One Year Sober

  1. Colleen, What a wonderful friend you are, so much love and caring, and even your well placed anger, make your friendship total. Today you have a friend that is one year sober, and they have you and your love. “For anyone struggling with addiction I hope you find the help and care you need. People do care. And you are worth caring about.’ such wonderful words, and I know they come directly from your heart. Thank you for sharing the story. Bill

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  2. Day by day. I hope your friend can stick with it. She has done amazing so far. I can only imagine how hard it is to become sober.
    I’m also glad that you as her friend are spared any further late night texts.

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    • Thank you Tric. Like you, I can only imagine the effort one has to put in to ‘getting’ and staying sober when they have an addiction. I look forward to each of her texts now. They started with “one day” sober, “one week sober”, “one month sober”. 🙂 Each one a milestone.

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  3. Excellent post on an important issue–a deadly issue, a matter of life and death. We have a friend here in Cuenca with 13 years sobriety. Another way I’ve heard it said is–if you think you MIGHT have a problem with alcohol, then you have a problem with alcohol. Maybe that’s why I don’t drink–never really have. Hope you and D have a wonderful weekend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • I have had in my entire life what would amount to “ounces” of alcohol. I had the fortune/misfortune of seeing people who lost control when drinking (my father owned a bar). I think that played a large part in my never having a desire to drink. I feel very fortunate to not have a taste or desire for drink. I can’t imagine the addiction and the effort to break it’s hold on you and then live outside of it’s grasp. I admire the effort of those working to stay sober.

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  4. Powerful. May your post help save the lives of others. I’m glad for your friend, and happy for you and all her loved ones. May she remain sober a minute at a time for the rest of her life.
    Russ

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  5. It’s a tough way to learn, but she learned. There could have been a tougher way for everybody involved, as you pointed out. Thankfully, Colleen, your friend learned the value of her life and her sobriety one year ago the hard way, not the very hard way, or the awful way, or the tragic way. Great post, my friend.

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  6. One June 12, 2001, I had my last drink: it was a Cabernet. I remember that date as by sheer coincidence, my second son was born the next morning.

    I liked to drink…a lot. I loved the TASTE of wheat beer, a good cold sake, or a Macallan straight up. But if I hadn’t stopped back then for whatever reason, I would hate to think of what may be now…unlike your lucky friend.

    No, I was not an alcoholic… I just liked it and liked it dearly. I stopped cold turkey and never looked back.

    Your friend – as I was not an alcoholic, I cannot understand what she must be feeling or of how hard it may be to stop. The difficulties. But it seems friendship helps to no end. You are a good friend. I hope she cherishes that and plows ahead.

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    • Like you I can’t relate to how difficult a journey it is for an alcoholic/addict. I know what I have seen and/or experienced because of addiction from the outside. And it is very painful and difficult to watch and feel so helpless. I was very fortunate in having no desire to drink/use. And I was very fortunate to have a repulsive reaction to the taste of alcohol. But added to my desire to remain in control as much as possible….I feel very lucky to not have suffered this.

      I’m glad you quit Koji. I can’t imagine the difference it made for you.

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  7. I really felt the story you shared of your friend. This was a really good post for everyone who has come through ‘hard’, ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’ times, making it to the ‘other side!’ Loved the way Mark summarized this! So many addictions and people who are family members will get a lot out of this post!

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    • Mark gave a great compliment to this post for sure. I have been on the family and friend side of this, I can’t imagine the pain and work my friend has gone through. Here’s to another year. One moment at a time.

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  8. Your friend is a person of courage – I know a few people who anywhere from 1 yr to 20 yrs sober, all still struggle and all courageous to combat their addiction and survive. Your anger was rightly placed and filled with love for your friend. It is your life that will help her

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  9. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least someone in their lives struggling with addiction. We sure do! It’s a very hard thing to watch with the helplessness of being in relationship with another who isn’t ready to admit they are in serious trouble. Our biggest fear was that an accident would result in someone innocent being killed. This is a powerful piece, Colleen. I really relate to your sadness as well as anger. Addiction is destruction.

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    • Thank you Debra. Your last line says it so succinctly.

      With what I see anymore Debra I think you are right, I can’t imagine anyone today not knowing someone struggling. And the “watching” or knowing of a struggle is another struggle all together.

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  10. So many can’t bring themselves to endure the struggle NOT to give in to an addiction. It’s fortunate your friend was given a second chance, realized it, and took the difficult path away from self destruction and the great harm it does to others.

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    • Amen Willy Nilly. She recognizes the chance and knew the work that would go in to it. I believe it would never be easy for an addict of any kind to have a struggle free existence. I just hope it gets better, and yes, easier.

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