Promises: On Five Years of Sobriety

Promises: On Five Years of Sobriety

At 10, I swore I’d never have a drink. My dad drank. I wasn’t going to do that. I knew better.

At 13, I ate some canned fruit salad that was marinating in vodka because older, cooler girls were doing it. There was no pressure. It was just something that happened. This was social and fun; not like my dad. It was okay.

In high school, having friends old enough to buy alcohol and a mother who was just done being a mother made it easy to indulge myself. I was just blowing off steam. I was practically an adult anyway. I wasn’t hurting anyone. I went to school every morning and worked my part-time jobs. I got excellent grades. It was all good. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do because I could take care of myself.

If it was at all cute that day I got drunk in the Dairy Queen where I worked on the vodka we had stashed in the front freezer when I was 18, it definitely wasn’t cute years later when I’d have too many margaritas at lunch and sway my way back to my cube and attempt to make insurance presentations. Still, I was handling it more often than I wasn’t, which was more than I could ever say about my father.

Once I got pregnant, I knew I would have to stop drinking. But I didn’t stay pregnant forever and moms deserve their wine; isn’t that what they tell us all now? Parenting is hard. Wash it down with a drink or three.

I told myself that the irresponsible behaviors of my youth were just that. I was mature now. I was in charge of another human so I must be able to make good decisions for myself.

After five drinks, I didn’t make good decisions. I could argue drinks number two through five were also not good decisions.

But I got up for work every morning and I wrote essays and I kept a clean house. My kid was smart as a whip and I got him to daycare on time. My dad screamed and yelled in drunken rages, passed out, and stumbled into things. I wasn’t my father. I was responsible.

Waking up in a hotel room at 36, the night’s events a total blur, I didn’t feel responsible. Meeting writers I admired and making an ass of myself as I drank and carried on didn’t feel responsible. Orchestrating an overnight adventure a few weeks later at yet another hotel, the one situated next to a bar so I could stumble back to pass out, didn’t feel responsible even if I said the reason for the hotel was to be responsible in the first place.

I saw through my own charade. I’m kidding myself if I think no one else did.

At 36, I didn’t swear I’d never have another drink. Instead, I swore I’d stay sober that day. It worked. I did.

I got up the next day, still 36, and swore the same. And so on. And so forth.

At 41, I’ve woken up every day since and made the same promise. Some days were harder than others, but so far, so good. Whenever I feel like I might break, I think of the days, 1,826 now, when I didn’t.

I don’t plan to break my promise. And as long as I get through today, I’ll make the same promise tomorrow.

22 Responses to “Promises: On Five Years of Sobriety”

  1. Oh Michelle, I love this and you and have missed your words. Great to read this. and Congrats on the sobriety.

  2. Nicely done. Well-rendered.

  3. IASoupMama says:

    So, so, so much love.

  4. Diane Main says:

    I love this. I believe in you.

  5. Cindy says:

    So incredibly proud of you.

  6. Asha Rajan says:

    You’re an amazing person, Michelle. Your strength and determination are breathtaking, and on top of that, you’re such a generous, kind human being. I’m so proud of your sobriety, and I’m honoured to be working with you. I’ve really missed your writing.

    • michellelongo says:

      Well, now there’s something in my eye. Thank YOU for your kindness and generosity always. The honor is mine that you agreed to work with us.

  7. I’ve cut back significantly, but haven’t found the courage or strength to quit totally, yet. I think I’m being a bit of a child about it, if I’m honest. Your story and your kind words (when we talked in the past) are inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Jamie Miles says:

    Each day is a choice. So very glad that you changed the direction of your life five years ago. Life does have pain but it also holds joy. Much better to be present and clear in the good days. And not so good. Thanks for your honesty.

  9. anusrini20 says:

    I felt a bit awkward leaving a comment because this essay seemed too honest and real. But there’s so much to learn from the way you have written about your journey.

    More strength to you!

  10. Bravo to you and your bravery.
    On your writing, I can’t say enough good things. The tone and pacing of this work so well, not to mention the honesty. I loved it.

  11. Laura says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this personal account, Michelle. The part that resonated with me were all the justifications that run through the essay, as I’ve used so many myself. It takes such an extreme level of self-awareness to write a piece on this topic from such an angle and you’ve definitely got it. Congratulations on your sobriety.

  12. I remember when we talked about this, all those years ago before auditioning for what’s it called. It planted the seed for my own journey to sobriety. Thank you.

  13. This piece was wonderful. I could relate to it so easily, and it made me uncomfortable as well, in the way that makes you aware that you’re thinking of things in a new way. What was most remarkable was the way you ended it. It felt so positive and proud, as you should be. Five years and 1,826 days is wonderful. Congratulations.

  14. d3athlily says:

    This piece is so relate-able and well-written. Congratulations on five years. That is a massive achievement. <3

  15. Bryce Warden says:

    I can relate to a lot of this….I wasn’t going to be my mother. Though my spiral was a lot faster and finished before I completed High School. Lots of days now…they add up. Happy for your sobriety and enjoyed your writing.


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