Lots of folks–LOTS–talk about booze-ism as a perpetual disease. What, is it like a flower that comes up every spring that you planted 10 years ago?
The BEST part about this journey, for me, has been seeing my mind heal. Witnessing the change. My actions are different, my reactions are different. WAY different. WAY better. And, maybe even back to normal.
By normal I mean, well, what do I mean? I can see now that I wasn’t “normal” back in let’s say, 2007. I know I’m a better version of myself. However, there was a sanity to my drinking, a certain “normalcy” to it before my several-years’ descent into out-of-control drinking. I’m not saying I could, or would want to, drink again, but…isn’t that the fucking point? You learn from your mistakes; now you can move on. You tried bungee jumping and decided it gave you whiplash and almost killed you. While you could do it again, you’d prefer not to, right? Same with a lot of things in my life: psychologically abusive boyfriends, poor academic choices (the expensive school over the cheaper one), “mom” jeans.
I don’t want to trivialize people’s experiences, but, they are just that.
At this point, I might choose NOT to drink even if I could, it’s that unappealing. (Well, I also know that I couldn’t “take it or leave it”–that I probably wouldn’t want to have “just one.”) I mean, there’s the short-lived buzz, but if the rest is boring or bullshit, why bother? Honestly, I’d rather not get high in order to avoid the low.
And, this is not rocket science. This is not big recovery stuff. This is not ME having a unicorns-shitting-glitter revelation. This is what most people have experienced, whether “addict” or not–some, it only took one try, others, it took a lifetime of tries.
Granted, I think addicts might feel a “higher” high than non-addicts. I don’t believe that my buzz from wine was significantly, qualitatively better than that of the annoying simpleton sitting next to me who had every hair in place, but I do assume that the relief it provided was something she had never–could never–imagine.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, you can stop dwelling on your sobriety long enough to look around to appreciate that alcohol has lost its hold on you. Sometimes, I do have the desire to drink, but it is a reaction, similar to other feelings and thoughts that would not be a good idea to react to. Drinking was a way to solve our problems, but it was a bad one. Now we are solving our problems in GOOD ways. Why? Because we know better. Consider your booze-ism as the school of hard knocks–we really did learn the hard way. But, now we know better, and we do better.
Why can’t that be enough? For recovery, I mean? I’m not saying I’m going to drink in moderation tomorrow, but I feel…healed, to a large extent. I feel better. I feel…normal, even? Maybe I hit a high bottom (maybe not); it doesn’t matter. The only thing that ever mattered to me was the fact that one, I drank alcoholically, and two, I could heal from this skewed mental state.
These days, about 18 months into sobriety, I don’t walk around constantly examining the horrible things I did, the anniversary of such and such drama. Why? Because everyone’s got a past, this is mine, moving on. These days, I walk around thinking of things worth thinking about, like friends, work, the trees, the ocean, whether or not I’m going to have kids, why that even matters. My life does not center around booze anymore. Most importantly, my life doesn’t HAVE to center around alcohol anymore, whether I’m sober or drinking.
I’m going to say this, and it might not be cool: I feel like there is such a culture of self-indulgence surrounding both drinking and getting sober. (And, for drinking, I might even substitute “using,” in general). In recovery, they hammer in the “it’s not all about you!” thing so hard, but yet…the entire recovery process IS all about you–catering to the addict’s well-being, finding the best medication to reduce the amount of pain the addict is in and the long-term cravings the addict will feel, delving into all the messed up shit that the addict went through in her life that caused her so much pain she had to use. I mean, even I saw the truth of the matter when I was binging on two bottles of wine a night: I did it because I could AFFORD to. I had the money, I had the time, and I had all the safety nets that our society provides. I was willing to spend my emotional energy, and to take physical and psychological risks. I could afford to, one way or the other.
I know there are addicts everywhere, and we share one thing in common: the urge to use to fix a pain. Addicts use as solution, even IF they think they’re just getting high. Why is it that AA works so well? It teaches you how to deal with the perceived pain of living, whether that pain comes in the form of egomania or other people’s bullshit. It seems that everyone, even the folks who say they drank for fun or “just because,” benefits from this program in that it works by giving you tools to both recognize the pain and then, transmute it into SOMETHING ELSE. That something else is life, silver not gold.
Take away the pain, and everyone can heal. Everyone can heal. And, an alcoholic past can be like a bad memory, or a faded photograph–not something you need to hold on to in order to stay sober, in order to not want to drink. I would say, hold on to the present, the desire to seek out productive solutions to this thing called life, not counterproductive ones. It becomes that simple, it really, really does. Everyone can heal. EVERYONE CAN HEAL!