Monday is June 1, 2020. I never thought this day would come. I can’t believe it’s here already. I had to go back through my calendar records to double and triple check. But yep – I quit drinking on June 1, 2018, and that means tomorrow is my second anniversary of sobriety.

I thought for sure the first year would be the hardest. But this second year has been pretty tough, too. I’ve had a lot of longtime sober people – folks who have been sober for 10 or 15 or 20 years – tell me that it gets easier, and eventually I won’t even want to drink anymore. But that certainly hasn’t happened yet. I wake up every day wanting a drink, and I want a drink throughout the day, and in the evening I want a nightcap, and then I go to bed victorious. And I’ve done that every day now for two years. Seven hundred and thirty days.

There have been days where I’ve felt like I’m hanging on only by the skin of my teeth. Like when I broke up with my ex, without whom I would never have gotten through the first year of sobriety, and I couldn’t even do the traditional breakup ritual of young women everywhere (going out for drinks with the girls). Do you know how many breakup songs reference drinking? It turns out the answer is “a lot.” Like having to move back in with my mom. Like getting laid off because of a global pandemic. (I feel bad being unable to help out Maine’s struggling craft breweries with my prodigious talents of consumption. So if you want to toast in my honor, toast local.)

But you can’t do it alone. And thank God I haven’t had to. Sobriety is almost impossible without a community. For me that’s been my family, particularly my mom, who got rid of all the booze in the house when I moved back in and who has committed to keeping it that way, even though she loves a nice gin and tonic on a warm summer evening. And I’ve got my friends, especially Samantha and Jess, who have been lifelines of treat delivery. (Another necessity? Seltzer water. I’ve turned myself into a seltzer sommelier.) And you, my column readers, who put up patiently with my whining.

And of course there’s my dog, Janey. I guess it’s a little weird to be so grateful to a dog who has cost me over $1,000 in emergency vet visits so far and who keeps barking at the mailman, but she gives me a really good, non-negotiable reason to stay sober. Getting drunk and passing out all the time isn’t compatible with being a good owner to an energetic young dog. You can swing that with a cat, as long as you don’t miss their mealtime. But you can’t slough off with dogs. Also, since we’ve been walking between 3 and 5 miles every day, Janey has helped me lose some of the extra wine weight I had hanging around my hips.

But no matter how much support you have, ultimately, when you’re in recovery from any sort of addiction, it’s just you, all alone in the ring. Every day you lace up your gloves and go nine rounds with an opponent who never gets tired and never stops punching. And there’s never a true victory, because every day you have to get up and do it all over again, for the rest of your life, forever. You’re the princess in the tower, and you have to make the choice to save yourself.

As hard as it is, it’s a pretty easy choice, because the option boils down to sobriety or death. And I’ve got an awful lot to live for – I mean, the pile of unread books beside my desk alone makes me relish my clear head.

I don’t usually like to toot my own horn – not a great trait for a writer, honestly – but I’m really proud of myself for doing this. Like, really proud. I’m more proud of this anniversary than I am of anything I have ever written. I’m more proud of it than I am when I teach Janey a new trick. And if I can do it, you can bet anyone else can.

So if you or anyone else you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can get sober. Find your team and kick some butt.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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