December 28th, 2017.
Last drink I have had, by choice.
I was at a Capital’s game with Jason. Things started off awesome but quickly derailed, not going at all as planned. Then things got somehow even messier and worse as the day went on. This was a turning point for both Jason and me. Certainly a day I will not forget anytime soon.
I purchased the tickets in October ‘17 with the help from the Capitals salesman, John. Very kind and thoughtful, he listened to me tell him how excited I was to surprise my husband with these tickets. Jason’s a huge Capitals fan. Since starting a business, we haven’t been able to attend a game in 2 years. This was going to be my Christmas surprise for him!
I splurged in that not only were they great seats, but they also came with a wristband that allowed us to eat and drink without concern (read: Open Bar!). After purchasing the tickets, I booked us a hotel room and felt so jazzed that this year he was going to be able to enjoy an evening totally in his zone. The past couple years he had spent supporting and staying in my zone.
I remember sharing my joy with my friend, Stinson Mundy, at Gather right after I purchased the tickets. “I have never bought anything like this for Jason, and I am PUMPED!”
Things started off great.
December 24th: I shared the gift with Jason, and he was super excited. After a bit of initial shock, as the reality of the gift settled in he got more and more excited! The plan was to leave game day, stay in D.C. that night, and enjoy a quiet morning before returning. I was PUMPED!
The morning of the game I was packed and ready to go, and Jason finished up his workout before we hopped in the car to make the trek from Richmond, VA to Washington D.C. - about a two hour drive. Typically, no big deal, easy breezy!
About 5 minutes into the drive, Jason shared that while working out he heard a “POP!” in his shoulder; it was now giving him immense pain while driving. We drive a stick. Our car requires the use of both arms, and his left arm was out of commission.
About half way through the drive, we pulled over and switched spots. Jason’s pain ramped up so bad he was sweating, but he was determined to push on. We got some Ibuprofen and a Gatorade from the pit stop and drove on. He took the meds and laid quietly as I finished the drive to D.C. We checked into the hotel and went right up to the room, Jason promptly laying down for a nap before going to the game. He had taken a handful of meds and now waited for them to kick in.
Finally, we Ubered to the game refocused on getting there and enjoying the wristband - even joking about drinking the pain away, determined to enjoy this moment, through the pain. Force the smile, distract from the pain, substitute with a substance to mask what was happening. Before we took our seats, the meds started to kick in and the sweating on Jason’s brow started to calm. He said he felt “better,” so on went the evening.
The game was great. Seats were awesome. Capitals won over the Bruins!
Jason’s pain, however, continued. Sitting in the seats was really difficult. He kept trying to adjust but just could not get comfortable. The people sitting next to him made it difficult for him to maneuver his arm in a way to find comfort, and so he spent the entire game pushing through, forcing himself to pay attention all the while experiencing immense pain. So my job became making sure there was a drink in hand and offering anything I could to help him move through this painful and increasingly disappointing evening. By the time we got back to the hotel room, Jason collapsed. He made it - he watched the game and celebrated the win. Now he just wanted to sleep and wake up pain free.
And so, we slept. Until 1:30 in the morning.
Now, something I know about myself: my body does not enjoy alcohol. In my college years, I was a champ at drinking. Beer, wine, liquor - I could handle it all with little consequence. Recently, though, I had been phasing out certain types of alcohol because I would get really sick after drinking it. The night of the Capitals game I just wanted to enjoy myself and didn’t think that it would be an issue. And anyway, I had been really mindful recently so I was due for a splurge. Oh how I was wrong.
My body had been giving me signs to sober up, and I didn’t listen.
I woke up at 1:30 with a strong pain in my stomach. My mouth watered. I laid in bed knowing exactly what was about to happen - I was going to get sick. I tried to coach myself through it: “Calm down; you’re okay; it’s not that bad; breathe.” It did not work. I spent the next hour laying on the bathroom floor - vomiting. UGH!
So, there we were: me on the bathroom floor and Jason in bed with a bum shoulder. What a mess.
When I climbed back into bed around 2:30, Jason’s pain returned and his pillow was soaked with sweat. By 6:00 am we were in the car, driving home, me at the wheel. So much for a lazy, quiet morning before returning home.
It was an exciting ride home.
We learned we both failed to listen to our bodies and were treating them in ways they did not want to be treated. It was time for us to be held accountable to our choices and make a strong change. Jason needed to rest; I needed to say no to alcohol.
Jason learned that he had torn a muscle in his shoulder. He has a hunch in his posture and had been working both sides of his shoulder hard in an attempt to fix the problem. His chest and back muscles were playing some sort of tug of war game and the morning of the Capitals game, while doing a bent over reverse fly, his shoulder surrendered to the tension. After meeting with a physical therapist, rest, and restorative exercises, he’s feeling much better.
My body had been telling me to say no to alcohol over the past few years, and I simply ignored it. So, now I choose to say “no”. I’ve been six months sober by choice. It’s been an interesting journey as I’ve discovered just how much I leaned on it as a social pillar. And I have felt the impact in my mental clarity. By saying “no” to alcohol I was saying “yes” to myself - and this set the tone for a lot of healing to take place.
So much has come from that night at the Caps game; none of it was expected.
Five Things I’ve Learned in the Last Six Months:
1. I am strong.
2. Peer pressure is hard to fight.
3. I learned some unknown stress triggers.
4. Drinks are expensive.
5. I need to listen to my body; it’s giving me strong signals.
Often the hardest moments of our lives bring us to the deepest meaning we’ve ever experienced.