My dad ran marathons. He was slim, with a broad chest (the man had unbelievable lung capacity) and, most importantly, a stubbornness that just would not allow him to quit. Ever. The sort of stubbornness that allows someone to dig deep and refuse to budge, even as they move inexorably forward. The sort of stubbornness that can be frustrating when it comes to the small stuff (as my mother could no doubt tell you) but that can be the impetus behind great deeds.

Sadly, I did not inherit my father’s physical build. If he was a thoroughbred, I’m more like a Shetland pony. But I did get the stubbornness. It’s come in very handy.

I’ve been waiting a year to write this column. I’ve been waiting a year to say that as of June 1, 2019, I am one year sober. I have spun once around the sun without alcohol once passing my lips.

Sobriety is a lot like running a marathon that never ends, as it turns out (with less chafing). It’s constantly bone-grinding, thrillingly rewarding work. And it’s a journey not undertaken alone. Sure, the runner is the person doing the work of actually running the marathon, but there are coaches, trainers, race officials, course workers and people handing out those tiny cups of Gatorade who all pull together to make the marathon possible.

I could not do this alone. And I haven’t. I’ve had my family (both the ones who haven’t died yet and the ones who are gone); my friends (the old and the new); my boyfriend (who puts up with a lot of my nonsense), my cat (who purrs like a tank), my doctors and various medical professionals who helped me with both medication and therapy – and, of course, you, the readers of my column. You are the people handing me tiny cups of Gatorade. Writing has been incredibly helpful in my recovery – because it helps to hold me accountable (bartenders of Maine, please put my head shot from this newspaper on your “DO NOT SERVE THIS PATRON” board) and because, I assume, misery loves company, and if I’m miserable, someone’s going to hear about it.

My therapist once said that addiction is a disease of isolation. It thrives in isolation and it causes you to withdraw from the people around you – to hide both your habit and yourself from anything that might get in the way of a fix. I used to stand in my closet and silently chug vodka straight from the bottle.

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My life has improved vastly in the past year (with the major exceptions of the passing of my grandmother and my dog). I’ve lost some weight. Not as much as I would like, but then again, I have no intention whatsoever of quitting bars of chocolate anytime soon, so I’ve made my peace with that. My relationships are better. Stronger. My mind is a little more clear (although not before coffee).

When I first stopped drinking, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it, or for how long. I still want a drink every single day. Multiple times every day, some days more than others. Relapses are a common part of addiction recovery, one of the reasons it’s a hard disease to empathize with.

But it’s been three hundred and sixty-five days without the most delicious physical and emotional anesthetic in the world. Through anger and sadness and bad anniversaries and good anniversaries and panic attacks and backaches, it’s just been Victoria, no chemicals. (Except coffee. Which you will have to pry from my cold, dead hands.)

So honestly? I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I’m rather impressed with myself. Look at me go. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

When my dad died, I didn’t know how I was going to live the rest of my life without him. But I keep doing it every day anyway. (I’m pretty sure that’s what he would have wanted.) So I plan on tackling sobriety the same way. I am as strong as the road is long. Forward it is.

Thank you, team. Let’s keep going. Maybe next year we’ll do matching T-shirts.

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Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 


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