Originally posted April 5, 2022 at theafmom.com

This last weekend I decided to get out of my small town and head to the big city of Pittsburgh for a super-mini vacation. But it didn’t exactly go as planned. Actually… it was anything but. It did, however, give me time to figure some things out I’ve been sitting on. One of those things being my choice whether or not to go back to sobriety. And for real this time.

I decided to head down Friday afternoon instead of early Saturday because another minute spent in my apartment felt like a death sentence. That’s nothing against my apartment - I love it here. I’ve spent a lot of time making it home over the last almost five years, but I’d be lying if I said this pandemic hasn’t made me go stir crazy always being in it. Especially since I’m not currently working on anything besides trying to be a better human being.

Anyway… as soon as I start seeing the skyline, I instantly felt a giant rush of all the happy. Goosebumps and everything. Growing up in the middle of a cornfield, you don’t get too much of that. I pulled into the parking garage, head to my hotel, throw the bags in the door and starving, head downstairs to the restaurant to get some food. Given next day adventures, generally I’d choose to pass up the drinks but as I eyed one of my favorites, I said to hell with it and ordered one. Which became two. And then three. A not uncommon pattern for me if I don’t have anyone around to babysit.

That was a joke, by the way. I don’t actually require a babysitter. Not all the time, anyway.

Photo by yours truly/Pittsburgh, PA

Long story short, I ended up turning into an emotional a-hole with the person I was supposed to meet, ignoring my phone on Saturday and walking around town by myself with the only thing running through my mind being, I can’t believe I was so selfish. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to think things would be any different. What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this?

As I had promised myself a really big fancy burger out of the trip, I tried to turn my focus to forget it all. Maybe I am beating myself up for no reason. It was a conscious choice. It’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes. Maybe not THAT vulnerable, but whatever; I’m not hungover or feeling like shit. It was one date… who cares. But as I starting shoving my face full of wood-smoked meat like it would somehow take away my guilt, the anxiety of feeling like I had just cheated on myself started to creep back in with the whole, damnit, I actually really liked him thoughts.

And this is where I have been for the last six months. Going weeks between drinks but then regretting it always after. What I have finally come to understand is known as the Gray Area Drinking Cycle. The middle ground between “rock bottom” and every-now-and-then drinking. A space that I can only assume a lot of other people exist but continually make excuses for. The hard to sit-in and hard-to-leave purgatory of adulthood, if you will.

Read more about the subject here - What Is Gray Area Drinking: 5 Signs You May Have It

As I sat there though in one of my favorite cities ever with a delicious meal fighting back my tears, I knew it was now or never to make a decision. Do I want to continue being torn back and forth by an idea that has been forced into my mind as an “adult” and “normal” thing to do continuing to ruin good things…. or do I want to actually be a REAL adult, get my shit together, feel my feelings, and move forward so I don’t have to suffer like I am right now?

My issue with making the decision for myself has been what happens when I tell people about it. Or even what I think others will think of me. As if it defines my entire worth and existence. (That’s dumb, but it’s true.) It’s been the resentment and absolute disgust I feel boil my skin when faced with the stigma as if this choice always has to deliver a label like “alcoholic” or insinuate that I need meetings to survive. Newsflash: Although AA might fit the mold of some, it was born in 1935 by two white dudes; I think it’s about time some people freshen up on what they think they know; there are other ways. It’s the patronizing “I’m so sorry’s” as if it’s not a choice EVERYONE should be fucking making for themselves as I continue to read article after article about the increase in drinking related deaths. Yet here I am… still trying to make excuses to allow it in my life. But if you’ll notice, all of those reasons have to do with me worrying about what people think of me. I’m essentially letting the fact that a lack of education in this area and how people choose to communicate about it deter me from making a healthier choice for myself. A healthier choice for my daughter… and even for whatever schmuck that comes along that I allow to date me. You heard me, yes - allow.

And that’s just straight garbage.

I’ve been putting this all on the back burner thinking the issue will just somehow magically change itself or that someone will come along that’s fine with me blubbering on at the mouth on occasion, but that’s crap, too. I don’t want someone to have to get used to me being an ignorant moron - no way.

After staying in bed until noon yesterday still feeling lousy about how I acted, I had one of those epiphanic moments where I sat straight up and knew where I needed to at least start. I texted the really amazing dude that blew me off for all the right reasons and said, I’m sorry… with my explanation. And then I said thank you for virtually the same one because (I think) I have finally learned my lesson… and that’s that booze and I just aren’t a great fit in ANY capacity.

With all said and done in what what probably the most empathetic conversation given the circumstances, I then took a shower, looked at myself in the mirror and told that badass, “This is it. No more. I believe in you. And you know what, you indecisive little thing that tends to be a pain in my ass because of your overthinking… I always have. Let’s do this.”

We obviously can’t change what we aren’t willing to confront. Sometimes it takes consequences of our actions to get there and sometimes it doesn’t. Over the years I’ve had plenty of reality checks due to my drinking, but for some reason because I have spent the majority of the last few years sober, I thought that my relationship with alcohol had changed. And to a certain degree, it did. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like who I am when I’m drinking - the major constant that needs to be my focus today and into all of my tomorrows.

I’m happy today to say that I’m four days sober. It may not sound like a lot to some after everything I’ve been through, but no one will ever know how difficult self-control is until you have to practice it. I’m going to keep doing that though because it’s fucking worth it.


TIme to leave you with a quote that I found today (with an insert from me added) that hit me in all the right feels:

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you (or what you’ve been pre-conditioned to think) so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

— IG/@jenleehirst

To say who I know who I am right now is laughable. And I can’t lie that one of my worst traits is wanting to define and have everything in my life always figured out. I like to feel in control. Right now though… I don’t. And I think it’s meant to be that way. The only way I’m going to find peace with all of it is if I consciously choose better - if I consciously choose to embrace all the insecure uncomfortable feelings because they absolutely will happen again, and stop trying so damn hard to have all the answers myself but keep praying to the One that has them all to begin with. For now, that’s good enough for me.

I’m not going to lie, I hope His answers come with a cool job with a side of hot man right about now, but if not…. at least I know a burger by myself can do the trick, too.

To stay up to date on latest writing, sign up with your email at theafmom.com or follow Instagram (@the.af.mom), Twitter (@theafmom), LinkedIn (@ashleykesner), or Facebook (@ashleyjkesner). Questions or comments? Email [email protected]!