Christmas Eve. It used to be one of my favorite days. The past few years, it’s been alternately marred by shameful drunken escapades (usually alone, usually involving sketchy people and scenarios–it’s too bright a day to go into them right now; maybe later, to convince you, if need be, that when it comes to people like us, “Oh, I’ll have just one” means grievous damage to body and soul) and life-changing volunteer trips to [beautiful island]. I went for the first time over the Christmas holiday, the second time immediately after.
Sigh. I miss [said beautiful island]. I miss [cold east coast city]. I miss my mom–oof, now there’s another crazy drunken story (remind me to tell you about last year’s Christmas Eve and the year before, blacking out in front of my mother and uncle and effectively RUINING both their evenings).
But…wait. Wait a minute…
Ahaha. Hahahah. Oh, mind, you’re SO easy. Is that what I’m really missing? When I take a look around and see just how much I have here, and how much things are different for me, emotionally? No. Because if I stop there, thinking I’m missing those things and a hundred others that take me back to my immediate past, I could let my mind trick me into thinking I miss the “life” I had. If I dig just slightly deeper, past those superficial thoughts (the kind that might have led me to that first glass of red a few years ago), I find that I’m not really missing those things, that “life.”
Sure, I miss some elements of my old life; of course, I might be waxing nostalgic; it’s possible that I’m feeling uncertain (Have I given up my independence to my detriment? Will I ever get back to [said beautiful island]?), but I’m definitely not MISSING anything. I have so much more than I’ve ever had, and that’s in addition to this cosmetic life of blue ocean, dogs, coffee and morning walks, perpetual sun (well, unless it rains), new friends, a “new” relationship where I feel safe and at home, familial and friendly ties that have either been cut, more or less, or strengthened–this is the absolute opposite of uncertainty. Tricky, feelings.
So, what’s going on? I think I simply miss the drama. I have both certainty and uncertainty now; I’ve achieved those in my time here on island (maybe it’s been my “rehab”), in my seeking out change, in my plotting a semi-freelance business, in my continual consideration of applying for another master’s (in public health) degree, in my deciding what ties to further bind and which to let go. I have those. What I don’t have is drama, and I guess if you get used to something, good or bad, for SO freaking long, you actually miss it. Not in a heartbroken sort of way, but along the same lines; you don’t know what to do without it! So, your emotional reaction is to feel longing which may be misinterpreted–it is by me, often, if I’m lazy about it–as uncertainty, missing something.
It’s a trick of the mind, though. My solution? Move forward. Do it now! Make your coffee, wash your dishes, go for that run or swim or whatever gets your energy up, make your to-do list and start doing it. Embrace the moment, the new, the now, the whatever HUGE, SOLID rock (i.e., YOUR SOBER SELF) is staring you in the face. I think it’s helpful to feel nostalgic…for a minute. Don’t let it trick you, though, and don’t let it make you think that your “life” was better; it wasn’t. You might not laugh as loud (or even want to laugh) or have sparkly conversations; your creativity might be (temporarily) compromised, and you might find yourself feeling staid or stuck. However, based on my short experience, all these things are actually going to end up serving you better–a hundred times over–than continuing to drink or use or depend on an outside substance to “make life OK.”
Sure, you can look back in your life, but I think sobriety allows you the certainty–even though you may be feeling otherwise–of KNOWING that you’re on the right path, that you’ve made the right moves, and that there is nothing to fear, regret, or want to do over! There’s something about living while sober that allows you freedom from doubt. Sure, you can change the road you’re on–you might want or need to–but, you never have to look back and wonder if you missed a turn, crashed into another car, or left skid marks on someone’s driveway.
On that note, I’m going to get myself outside to enjoy some of this pre-noon sun with a run and/or swim. Later, I think we’re heading to a friend’s get-together, then I have to come home and file a re-do on the “practice” quiche I made last night. Tomorrow, we’re going to meet some friends for brunch and then hit the beach–where else? 😉
Merry Christmas to all my sober friends out there–you’re amazing!