Monday, January 3, 2011

Ignite the Light

When I was three months sober, I went to my twenty year high school reunion.   I was determined not to stay away because I was an alcoholic and I couldn't drink.   

I was there to prove a point to myself:   I can have fun without drinking.  

It didn't work.  

Every inch of that night was hard.   The siren call of alcohol was everywhere I looked.    Walking into the party everyone made a bee line to the bar, and I hung back, uncertain.   I didn't really want to drink; I knew where that would lead.   What I wanted was to belong

I made it through, but not happily.   I froze a smile onto my face, hugged and chatted with people, talked about how great I felt.   But it was a lie.   I felt like an alien, a freak, and very, very alone.

At one point someone I hadn't seen in twenty years came back from the bar with two glasses of wine in his hand.  "I noticed you needed a drink, so I got you one,"  he said.

My stomach rolled with longing and dread.   "Thanks, but I don't drink anymore."

"Don't drink anymore at ALL?"  he asked, his mouth agape.  

"Nope. I quit."

He stared at me wide-eyed for a few moments, and then said, "Wow.   That must SUCK."

Yes. Yes, it does, I thought.

Towards the end of the night everyone hit the dance floor, and I wandered outside for some fresh air.   I looked up at the stars and thought:   I'll never have fun at something like this again.   It's over.

~~~~~~

When I was about a year and a half sober my husband and I were sitting on the couch on a Saturday night, watching a movie.  

He let out a long sigh, and I asked him what was wrong.

"I'm just wondering," he said, "if we'll ever be able to go out with friends again.   Sometimes I hate that you can't drink."

I looked down at the floor.    I didn't apologize; by then I had worked on myself enough that his words didn't hit me in the gut.  I knew he was simply telling his own truth.

"You know what I think?"  I said.  "I think one day I'll get there.   I will be able to go out with friends - to a party, a club or for dinner and it won't be hard."    He looked over at me, a mixture of sadness and love in his eyes.  

"I'm just not there yet.   But I believe it will happen.   And if it doesn't?   I'm okay with that, too."

He put his arm around my shoulder and said, "one day at at time, right?"

~~~~~

At 11:55pm this past New Year's Eve I was on the dance floor.

All around me the room pulsed with energy; hundreds of people dancing and partying at a a huge New Year's Eve Party at a large hotel in Boston.    I was swinging my hips and waving my hands over my head, belting out the lyrics to Katy Perry's 'Firework':
You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine

Steve was dancing next to me, his New Year's party hat slightly askew, grinning like a Cheshire cat.   We were surrounded by friends who were all laughing, dancing and singing like a bunch of teenagers.

As the countdown hit midnight, I leaned over and gave Steve a kiss.   "Happy New Year,"  I beamed.

He smiled back, and it hit me:   I'm healing.    I'm here at a party on New Year's Eve, surrounded by friends and party goers, and what do I feel?   I feel complete, fully present, grateful and happy.  

I was free



22 comments:

  1. Oh Ellie- this post brought tears to my eyes. That scene with your husband, on the sofa, I've been there. Thought those thoughts. And earlier, at your high school reunion. Yep, there too. Isn't it interesting, on this journey of sobriety, that there are lamp posts we'll all pass by? Not at the same time, or exactly in the same way, but pass by, nonetheless.

    Happy New Year! I'm so glad you had fun!

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  2. woo-hoo sexy lady! I'm so happy for you.

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  3. You look so happy. Glad you had a wonderful night!! I am finding my way back to social situations, it's not so bad. Thanks for the positive look on it!!

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  4. You look great! Oh, and I love your boots...

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  5. Woo hoo!! So happy for you! Have a blessed new year!

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  6. You look absolutely lovely!

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  7. You're pretty damn amazing, you know that?

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  8. You go, girl. And you look AMAZING! Seriously, you are fab.

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  9. You are absolutely beautiful. In all sorts of ways.

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  10. I cannot get over you in that dress!! What a hot mama! (and not meant in a creepy I want to grab your bum way... but in a you look incredible, you go girl kind of way ;))
    And like I said in my email, you honestly give me so much hope. I can't imagine doing that yet... but some day...

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  11. Holy hot-ness.

    Thank you for this. I really really needed this.

    xoxo

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  12. LOOK AT YOUR GORGEOUS!!
    I've never met you..but I feel like I know you. We've emailed back and forth over the summer a bit. And you gave me hope. This morning-reading this you made me smile! I'm so excited for you....

    And for myself.

    I haven't had a drink in 62 days.

    And I just had that conversation with my husband....about being able to socialize again without the urge.

    Thank you for sharing your world with us.

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  13. Okay. That gorgeous pic of you gave me the chills. I love this post Ellie. You look free. You are free. I am so thrilled that 2010 gave me the opportunity to meet your spirit and I hope we get some more time to hang in 2011.

    xoxo
    Lee

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  14. What a beautiful, hopeful post!

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  15. 62 days!! Oh, now I'm smiling, too. Good for you! It's an incredible journey .. hang on and enjoy the ride. :)

    -Ellie

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  16. Look at gorgeous you!! Congratulations on beating back the beast. And seriously, that person at your reunion is helplessly clueless.

    Here's to more fantastic partying, on your own terms.

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  17. You look great! I am struck by how much Gretta looks like you. I have never noticed before!

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  18. Some bot made me follow you on twitter and I am so glad it did. So I'm here and I think I'm in love. This was a wonderful piece and amazing that I was just thinking of writing a post with song and you've done it more justice than I could.
    Congratulations for EVERY sober day and for, well, looking so damn hot!

    Hi, btw.

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  19. Hi back! Thanks for your comment! :)

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  20. Ellie, I was so excited to see this post!!
    Congratulations!!!!!

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  21. Beautiful. Wonderful... and AWEsome :)

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