There are many ways that you can define yourself. There are the obvious identifiers of race, gender, age, heritage, religion, etc. Maybe you define yourself by a role; mother, sister, aunt, daughter, manager, peer, etc. Maybe you view yourself through a lens of your interests; vegan, animal lover, musician, athlete, etc. Some of you may identify yourself by your appearance; tall, thick, tattooed, blonde, etc. Many people will identify themselves as others see them. For example, the funny guy, the sarcastic friend, the independent woman, the strong willed, the book worm or the party friend. There are endless ways that an individual characterizes themselves, so for the month of June I am going to share with you some ways that I characterize myself.
Beware. I am far from perfect, but have a good heart. You may not respect some of the decisions that I have made, and that is okay. I am working toward being unapologetically Jean, so I can only start that by sharing with you all how I define myself. There is no better way to start than to celebrate two years of being free of alcohol and say with pride, "I am sober."
I did not make the decision to quit drinking because I knew that I needed to or because I had some great enlightenment. I found out that I was pregnant. I cried for hours when I found out. In retrospect, I think I cried because I knew that my life was going to change, and I was scared of this. I knew that I could no longer be the person that I had grown so comfortable being. I needed to be a better person for my unborn child. I knew that having Vincent would be the end of something, but what I have discovered was that it was also the beginning of something wonderful.
I did not drink in high school until my senior year. For some reason, I thought I would be cooler if I drank. I thought I would be more fun, more attractive and uninhibited. I was shy. For those of you that know me, that seems weird because I seem to be very outgoing, but I am actually very shy and insecure. I wanted to be a part of a group. I didn't want to be friends with anyone in my high school, and since I went to UMD post secondary I made friends who were older and in college.
My girlfriends and I would drink and go out dancing at a local 18+ club. We met all these new interesting people because we were outgoing and wild. We were fearless. We were drunk! We would drink at parties and be the life of the party. We would have older guys buy us booze and then we would hang out with them. Older guys were cool right?
At 18 years old my dad came to pick me up from a house party I had been at where the cops had been called, but I was too drunk to leave. (I do not remember any of this BTW.) Luckily the cops decided to call my parents versus send me to jail. My girlfriends and I crashed my car driving to the club when we were drunk. We tossed our beer cans out the window and continued to drive to the club. We would worry about it later. I got my first criminal charge because of alcohol for under age consumption at 18 years old. I wish it would not have taken me 17 years to figure out that I should have just taken the hint back then that I was not good at drinking.
I spent 17 years getting drunk. I liked the socialization of it. I had a severe case of FOMO before FOMO even had an acronym. I needed to be at every event, but not just attending. I wanted to drink. I never had just one drink though. I was not really the "drink at home" kind of gal unless I had a party at my house which I was always up for. I never had DTs or the feeling of needing the alcohol. I like to go out and going out to me was getting drunk at a bar full of people. I was the queen of black outs. I was the drunk friend. I was the girl who fell over, made out with random guys, threw up in public, and walked out on my tab. Many of us have done some of those things, but I was also the girl who woke up in stranger's beds, peed my pants, had hours of time unaccounted for and got myself into some pretty precarious situations. I have discovered that most people do not do those things.
I lost respect from others and for myself. I lost multiple purses, wallets, cellphones, etc. I lost friends. I lost boyfriends. I made new friends, met new guys and bought new purses. I validated that those people needed to chill out and back off. I moved on. This same pattern repeated itself for many years.
The year I turned 21 was a great year, and by great I mean fucking awful. I got a DUI and became a full blown cocaine addict. I met a guy at a party who introduced me
to the drug, and I fell in love. With the guy and the drug. (Both of which treated me like shit.) My parents saved me in the end, and I have actually been clean from drugs for over 12 years. That story is for another day. That year I got evicted, broke my two front teeth, quit a job that had great future opportunities, broke my leg, filed for bankruptcy and treated the people in my life like shit. I also for the first time in my life, considered that maybe I didn't want to live anymore. I had never, ever, thought that way before.
I went to rehab, relapsed, recovered and continued to drink. Never did I think that I needed to stop drinking. I had a "drug" problem. Each year was a rinse and repeat. No huge consequences, but stupid shit. Always drama. Always regret. Always feeling sorry for something I did. Waking up wondering what I had ruined. I met my now husband at a bar, we fell in love and we started a life together. I continued to drink, make stupid decisions and he still loved me.
He loved me enough to propose to me. Yes! I am going to
be a wife. I planned the most epic bachelorette party in Vegas, and it was epic. It was epic-ally terrible. I took a Klonopin on the plane because I was anxious, blacked out the entire first night, took a nap on the floor of the Mirage hotel, got into multiple fights with all my friends, forgot to take my Zoloft and became out of control the entire trip. Wow. That was fun.
My wedding went much better, but I am not going to lie, and this is probably one of my greatest regrets, I was not sober when I walked down the aisle. I was not blacked out yet, but I was not sober. Writing this puts tears in my eyes because I wish so much I could redo this moment...
We moved to Baltimore for my job. Therefore, we needed to check out all the new.. bars! Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Pee on a stick. BAM! Life changer.
Tears. I mentioned tears right? Well, there were many of them, but it was because I knew this was the end of drunk Jean. I knew that I couldn't be a half ass mom. I knew that I would never allow myself to be a mom my child was embarrassed of. I knew that meant that drunk Jean needed to retire. Drunk Jean was my identity though. I partied. Everyone knew that. Under hobbies, I would list drinking. Now what?
So here is what happened. I had 9 months to adjust to not drinking with a damn good excuse. I also had 9 months to reflect on how terrible I was at drinking. Let's get real. It was gross. I decided that I was not going to drink at all anymore. It was not worth it. I was embarrassed by my behavior and saddened that I had wasted so much time and money on this. I was bothered that I had considered drinking to be a thing to do when really it should not be. I also realized that I physically felt like shit a lot. Pregnancy was way better than being hung over!
Now I am happy to be sober. I do not black out (except due to exhausted mom brain :) I enjoy the taste of a non alcoholic beverage, the music at a concert, the rush of a sober dance party, waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, and my bank account. I am more motivated, focused and happy. I have made some great connections with people over actual mutual interests instead of the fact that we both like to party.
I have started to volunteer for multiple charities, do freelance creative work, opened an Etsy shop, and participating in many side hustles. I would have never had the energy for this before.
Mostly, I gained more love for myself. I respect myself enough to know that drinking is not the right thing for me. It took many years, mistakes, losses, and ridiculous shit, but I figured it out. This is one decision I will never regret.