I drove drunk again.
I lie here, in my bed, trying to piece together the shattered details of an ordinary night gone straight to hell.
I remember swerving.
Closing one eye so I could focus on the blurry road in front of me.
Did I hit something?
Or worse, did I hit someone?
I know I have to turn on the news.
Check my car for any dents.
I lie here, in my bed, horrified and drenched in sweat.
I stare at the ceiling as my eyes adjust to the morning light, and the familiar Shame and Anxiety begin to creep up and latch on and threaten to suffocate me.
I am in disbelief that I would sacrifice all that I have worked so hard to attain.
I am mortified that I would, after all of this time, forsake my family and friends, risk losing everyone I love, crush everything I have dedicated myself to build and sustain.
Most importantly, I am devastated that I let myself down; the self-respect I covet so much, that I lived so long without, begins to slip away in the grogginess and haze of the early hour.
How am I going to face myself in the mirror?
How am I going to face my children, my husband, my loved ones?
How am I going to explain that it was just a mistake, that it will never happen again, that I can and will do better.
Who will believe me now?
I consider seriously for a moment, never leaving this bed again, never showing my lying face to the world again, never breaking promises and hearts again.
I consider laying here until I’m good and dead.
Whatever it is I think I’m doing isn’t really living anyway.
I lick my dry, cracked lips.
The stale taste that used to follow these wretched nights is not there.
The pounding headache and overwhelming nausea that greeted me each day is also missing.
My body doesn’t feel as if it’s been run over by a parade of big rigs.
My vision isn’t doubled.
I lay still for a moment.
Catch my breath.
And let the slow realization that the horrors of last night were just a dream wash over me and cleanse me from the inside out.
Just a dream, Jo.
It was just a nightmare.
There is nothing left to do but weep.
Weep for the mistakes of yesterday.
Weep for the forgiveness of today.
Weep for the nightmares that plague and haunt and terrorize me, for they remind me how close I will always be to losing it all.
Just one drink.
One drink stands between these nightmares from becoming reality and so I know better than to chase them away.
Instead, I am grateful for their suffocating presence.
I rise from my bed, the Shame and Guilt and Horror falling to my feet and I stand tall and step over them as I make my way to the kitchen, the sounds of my children waking, my husband washing, my coffee brewing accompanying me with every confidant step I take.
It is the soundtrack of my life.
My sober life.
And for me, there is no other way.
13 Replies to “I Drove Drunk Again.”
Oh, dear God. This had me so shaken and so worried. And SO.DAMN.GRATEFUL to know it was a nightmare. Sending you bone-crunching virtual hugs through the ether and sobbing tears of relief for my friend I haven’t met (yet).
Gosh Jo, this was brilliant writing that scared me to death. For you, and for me. Because I know that I am also that fragile though I have been sober for almost 6 years. I can faulter at any time. I have to be super vigilant. I am so glad it was a nightmare, but I am sorry you had to experience it. I haven’t had a dream like that and I can 0nly imagine how it would make me feel. Hugs to you Jo. Big, suffocating hugs!
You made mistakes; you survived; you fought; you overcame; you learned; and now you bravely teach. Beautifully written and wisely stated.
You’re Brilliant. Brilliant spirit, brilliant talent.
Please forgive yourself for your past, but never forget. Forgetting opens the gate, as you well know. Your life now is your daily reward for moving forward from hell in a bottle.
Teaching, sharing…you are powerful at this.
Thank you for this post. That is all.
This is an amazing post, Jo. I hope that the nightmares let you have peace in your waking hours.
You are one brave and stellar superstar.
You little devil U. Before I stopped sipping, I never had anything like that happen that wasn’t for real. Wish we could see each other sometime before everything comes to a halt. Love YA Bill
Jo – I had a recurring dream my first few months of sobriety. My old “friends” were holding me down and pouring alcohol down my throat. I would wake up in with a gasp, drenched in sweat and confused to my surroundings. Then I would calm down and realize it was just another drunk dream. In my first month, I asked several people with many, many years of sobriety about the dreams. “Do they go away?” I asked. They said no, but they do get further and further apart. Now, in the few drunk dreams I have, I am the one picking up the drink. It’s a reminder that it will always be a choice and the choice will always be mine. Today, I chose not to drink and tomorrow I will do the same.
Another wonderful friend of mine at that time told me something I remind myself of after each drunk dream, “Sometimes, Barbara, a dream is just a dream.” As long as I don’t choose to pick up that first drink, my reality will remain sober and awesome and alive.
I’m with you. This is my life — my sober life — and I wouldn’t change it for anything, occasional drunk dream or not. One day at a time, sister. Thank you for being honest. My 6th birthday is just around the corner and the dreams always get worse right before a birthday. Just makes the day I take that next chip all the more sweeter.
What a powerful, moving reminder of how one mistake can have lasting repercussions!
I knew the instant I saw the title that you had experienced a nightmare, for I know that you will be sober for the rest of your days. I know it like I know my own name. This Jo Ashline, the one I met after the “other” life, is the one I believe in.
This is a brilliant post. I was struck by the raw courage of writing such a thing, and thinking about how I would feel. Then, the revelation that it was a dream. That, too rings true. How many times have I woken up to that stark relief? Also, on the other hand, how many times the regret that it was just a dream…?
I love your writing style. I rarely say that… 🙂