There’s a common misconception as to what happened on June 1, 2018, the day I quit drinking.

I didn’t wake up, take stock of my life and come to the decision to get sober. That wasn’t the day I realized I was an alcoholic; I’d known for a long time before then. (It was pretty hard to miss.) I knew I had to quit drinking or eventually it was going to destroy my life, possibly permanently. But I didn’t consciously choose sobriety that day. I’ve consciously chosen it every day since, 1,096 days and counting as of this writing, but on that day I didn’t.

On June 1, 2018, I woke up and I just knew I was done drinking.

I don’t go to AA, although I know I probably should (just like I know I should probably go to the gym). Part of the reason is that I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable around religion, and, well, 6 of the 12 Steps mention God. I’ve never been a believer in any God, even if I’m not nearly as much of a snotty atheist as I was in my teens. I’m more open to miraculous things, and I fully agree that there are things about our lives and minds and world and universe that humans don’t have scientific explanations for, cannot perceive and cannot quantify.

But generally, I believe that dead is dead and the Bible is history and metaphor.

But having woken up on that completely average morning, knowing in my bones that I was done drinking, all-of-a-sudden-cold-turkey … well, I’m pretty sure now that some sort of higher power does exist, because it saved my butt that day.

I don’t know the nature of that higher power. I don’t know if it was my own atomic subconscious pushing a panic button to save myself/itself. Maybe it was the God everyone talks about, the old man in the sky in a robe, who reached out a finger and poked me in the hippocampus. Maybe it was my dad.

Regardless of the origin of the blessing, it was definitely one of the luckiest breaks I have caught so far in my life, and I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. On that particular random day in spring, I had my boyfriend pour my vodka stash down the sink and I’ve never looked back.

Well, OK, I’ve looked back. Occasionally. With a wistful tear in my eye. But I haven’t actually gone back, not even one step. A few days ago, on June 1, 2021, I celebrated my third year of sobriety. And this year was rough, I have to tell you, what with the global pandemic and the whole extended election and the insurrection on Jan. 6 and me getting a bad case of shingles and – well, to be honest, getting through a case of shingles with nothing stronger than acetaminophen is definitely one of my best Sober Accomplishments, bested only by the time I got through my grandmother’s sudden death in New Jersey sober. I’ve burned a warehouse worth of scented candles. I’ve consumed so much seltzer that my favorite brand, Spindrift, started sending me free influencer merch.

Most American success stories combine a stroke of luck and a ton of hard work (not always in that exact order). My stroke of luck was waking up and simply being done with it. The hard work came every day after; because every single day, I want a drink. I wake up, and I want alcohol; I putter through my routines, and I want alcohol; I go to bed wishing I could have some alcohol. Even though I know that my life is so much better now that I’m sober, I still want to drink, because I’m an alcoholic and that’s just what we do. And it takes a lot of work to say no to yourself every single day. But I’m doing it. This is my American success story.

June 1, 2021, was a completely ordinary day. A Tuesday. I woke up, drank too much coffee, went to work, spent some time with a new gentleman friend, drank a bunch of seltzer and fell asleep without any alcohol in my body.

There was no celebration, unless you count all the gifs and emojis in the family group chat. We didn’t even go out to dinner, because of the pandemic and also my bank account. I was sober from sunup to sundown that day, and the day before, and the day after.

Nothing special at all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

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