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OTI Listener Stories: Mel, Minnesota

Updated: Jul 15, 2022



I was late to the drinking party, and consequently late to the fun side of the island.


I was raised in a religious compound (not a cult, ask any of the cult members, nothing alarming or extreme going on here).


No booze. No caffeine. Not even any sugar!


I dropped out of high school and left home/compound when I was 16. Owing to a series of not insignificant but extremely fortunate events and small miracles, by the time I was 23 I graduated college and law school, passed the bar examination and obtained employment. As a lawyer!


Side note—I never did finish high school.


In those years, I met a pretty cool guy who, while not at all inclined to join no-booze religious cults, did not drink alcohol. Just never did.


Weird, but still cool. Married him at 24. Two darling babies by 28.


I did drink some during those years (not at all whilst pregnant and nursing), but

not much because we didn’t have any money so didn’t go out much.


And I was pregnant and nursing for much of that period. I confess that I did hit the coffee

and sugar pretty hard the minute I left home/compound.


I honestly can’t remember exactly when that changed. We were quite busy in our 30s and 40s with work, kids (ice hockey!), you know the drill. We had more money, but less time, so we dined out frequently between work and evening activities (ice hockey!).


Our social circle grew to include dear friends at the same stage of life, and those friends drank.


So I did too. My pretty cool guy never did.


He made it easy for me to over-indulge because I always had a sober driver. My youngest told me this week, as I hit my 90th sober day in a row, that she never saw me drunk until she was 18, when I was 46.


I do know that I have pretty much been trying to cut back and drink like a normal person, or stop altogether, since about my mid-40s.


I’ll be 60 in a couple months.


At some point over the years, I just started drinking nearly every day.


Never “had a problem” though.


Because I never got arrested. Never got in a bar brawl. Never missed work or a deadline or a court date or a morning run or a race. Never drank during the day (well, you know, holidays, weekend brunches, vacation, lunch with pals—not day drinking like people with alcohol problems drink. What a d!ck.).


Most nights a bottle and *maybe just one more glass*.


Felt proud if I didn’t drink on Mondays or the odd Wednesday.


And I did all the things.


Promises to myself to cut back.


Declaring out loud to my long-suffering pretty cool guy that I was done drinking one sober January in 2020, bookended by a blackout drunk on December 31, 2019, and another on February 1, 2020.


As I’m finding out so many of us have done, I googled, “Do I have a drinking problem” roughly a billion times.


Again, what a d!ck.


I blacked out frequently. I fell down a few times just getting out of bed (f@cking dehydration).


My blood pressure and blood glucose were skyrocketing. I was either drunk or sick from drinking almost every day.


"You can’t quit even when you try really really hard, you f@cking moron", the interweb should have told me—of course you have a drinking problem.


I’ve had a few people ask me, when I told them I quit, “Did something happen?”


Yes. Something happened.


Again, it wasn’t jail. Or an accident. Or a health scare. I’m sure everyone in this space knows what their something was, and it might not matter what mine was.


But I woke up on July 22, 2021, hungover, typically remorseful, thirsty as hell, heart racing. Went straight to the google machine and found myself a sober coach.


One who said f@ck and sh!t when describing her coaching approach. Bought her online, on-demand program (small financial outlay, no actual human accountability—again, you know the drill. Just in case I didn’t really have a problem).


The program recommended setting a goal to be sober for 100 days.


I committed to that. Told my husband, my children, my sisters and my two best friends.


Accountability! Support! Weird! After about six weeks, I recognized the bait and

switch.


As I write this, I’m 93 days in. Not to the 100 days yet. But that’s not my goal anymore.


I’m in. All in. Because, as Sharon says, it’s glorious!


Over The Influence and Sharon, Freddie and Ben are a big reason I can say that confidently.

I discovered Sharon when she was William Porter’s guest on one of his Friday night live sessions. Fell head over heels. Heard some of myself in her story (although I’m much much older and it took me much much longer to get here).


I don’t feel alone with this anymore.


I’m not alone with this anymore.


Their OTI stories. Their j-words. Their advice, experience, support. I’m not alone, and it’s

glorious.


Just imagine, if you haven’t got there yet—90 plus days with no hangover, no scrambling to piece together what you might have said or done, no hiding bottles under the newspaper in the recycling bin.


And not a single fight with my cool guy.


Apparently he’s not at all annoying to a sober person. Truly glorious!


At first, I worried I’d be boring. Or bored. Now I know – I’m probably boring, but I

wasn’t as smart or witty or engaging as drunk me thought I was.


Also true, sometimes I am bored. It seems most drunk people are boring. The beauty is – I

can get in my car and drive myself home whenever I want. Because I’m not drunk! I’ll tell you what – that right there is true freedom.


One small nitpick – word was that people who stop drinking magically lose weight. I actually gained a few pounds (I’m in the U.S., so that’s not a good thing).


Except it is a good thing. I drank in favor of eating. So skinny malnourished me is rounding out nicely.


And oh my gosh Sharon did not lie—sober hair is a thing!


I don’t have any particular advice for anyone reading my small story.


I do have this, though.


One of my daughter’s friends is in her early 30s and just celebrated her 2-year sober anniversary. I saw her proud post on Instagram and promptly started crying. I wish that had been me 25 years ago. The things I could have accomplished, the fights I would not have had with my pretty cool guy, the moments I would not have forgotten (my children’s wedding receptions are a heartbreaking blur).


It wasn’t me making that decision 25 years ago.


I’ve done it now, though.


This old granny intends to dance at her grand-humans’ weddings and remember every glorious moment.


Cheers.


With coffee and a donut.


Mel, Minnesota

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