Today marks one month to go until I’m one year sober. Holy crap! I never thought the day would come, and, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about drinking in moderation (what’s that?) again come March 18th.
Numerous thoughts rush through as I consider that possibility, and there are a few that stand out.
Why bother? I am actually consistently happy now, and I would by lying to myself if I said that drinking would add anything to an occasion or a situation. It’s an escape at best, an excuse at worst–that’s all it is, and maybe it simply took me 20 years to see what a sham alcohol actually is. Drinking would not add; it would only subtract. This I know to be fact; it’s been a long road to accept this fact into my stubborn brain.
Do I want to drink sometimes? Sure, of course. I miss the buzz, especially when I feel slightly down, which is a lot of the time; I’ve been meaning to get on the antidepressants thing. And, sometimes, when I let my “can’t drink, won’t drink” guard down, I’m appalled, in a way, at how far I still have to go. Case in point: Last night, I wanted to drink simply because I was getting ready to go out–which I rarely do, and now I know why–and just the act of getting ready to go out made me pine for a glass (or ten) of wine. And, a previous conversation about an old drinking buddy earlier in the afternoon had me thinking about all the bad that happened while drunk, and then, shockingly, a longing for that bad–that out-of-control-ness, that sickness–hit me. It was weird to witness my reactions like this, as strong as ever.
These pangs tell me that maybe I haven’t come to terms with things, I’ve just put them out of my mind. I mean, have I simply cut people from my drinking past out of my life, and instead, need to re-engage with them to “work shit out?” It’s so confusing, and my heart says, NO. But, my mind wonders, Well, IF, in fact, merely thinking about what went down between us–the shenanigans, as it were–is triggering an almost-uncontrollable urge to “just go out and get fucking tanked,” then, maybe I have a lot more work ahead of me than I thought?
I have “this”–why, as hilarious, wonderful Belle once said, would I want to go back to living in a sewer? I mean, lately, I’ve been seeing the FRUITS of my labor. These are big and small, a slap in the face or a gentle tap on the shoulder. The other day, I had a “wow” moment, as in pink SKY, not just pink cloud. It happened when I was walking the dogs, and I came to the crest of a hill–I must say, the views here are astounding, and I don’t take them for granted. Usually, though, maybe I do a little. Anyway, it just hit me and it was a shocking thought: I get “this.” I get THIS instead of that. And, for all you who were reading about my trials and tribulations in the cold, foggy city whence I came, you can understand why this is so much better than THAT.
I get THIS because I am sober. It really is that simple for me. Getting sober was instrumental in getting everything else that I have right now: I get to live here, where I am, with hot weather, and trees, and water, and sun. I get to live on an ocean. I get my boyfriend–friend, partner, someone who saw me through the horrible times, when I had zero idea that I even needed to be seen through. I get a blossoming freelance career–a second chance, in a way. I get to work a low-wage, part-time job, which is gloriously easy (showing up and just getting paid to exist isn’t as bad as I remember it being)–I get to work to live, and I get to appreciate this now. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s good for now. This is really good for now, I see.
That. What was that, that I was living? Just two years ago, I was, as Belle put it, living in a sewer. I was drinking constantly–I mean, I don’t think I truly sobered up for weeks if not months at a time, toward the end–and I had nothing that I have now. Worse, I didn’t believe I could have it–an actual freelance career, a boyfriend/partner, the ability to juggle a low-wage job and my overachiever’s mentality. The chance, every day, to plan exactly how I want to live it.
And, the best part is, I earned “this.” I have never been able to say, unequivocally, that I earned something. I must have, right? I’ve always thought of myself as a fraud–no matter how hard I thought I was working, I was still cutting corners.
With sobriety, I know I earned it. And, I’m really proud–like, all the time, every day. In fact, I feel pride for the first time in a long time. And, maybe it’s this sense of constant pride, day in and day out, that remaining in continuous sobriety brings? It builds, too, and you just keep feeling more and more pride, or constancy, or something like wholeness; it’s like, it settles into your bones and you finally start to believe that this isn’t a fluke, that you have the right to be proud again, to be whole, to exist.
Life is just starting to get easier, and introducing a desire to “fix” anything–a mood, a thought, a fight, whatever–with wine will complicate the “savannah of my mind.”
My relationships are better because I am learning how to have them as a self-respecting person, you know? I guess I was always acting, always trying to please–that made relating to the opposite sex, especially shady men who were more than willing to take advantage of that lack of self-awareness, particularly bad for me. And, I am learning to let go of things that don’t serve me–like, worrying about whether or not my brother’s girlfriend likes me anymore.
I see just how much I value my new self in being sober, in the very way that they (people from my drinking past, I suppose) are trying to relate to the old me. That old me? She’s gone. I’m here now. Relating to people who haven’t changed, or who can’t or won’t understand a new you–it becomes impossible. Either they adjust to the new you–to some, she is probably jarringly unfamiliar–or they don’t.
Anyway, I get this, and not that. And I earned it. And this is why drinking again–even for “fun”–might never be in my cards. What good, what “better” could it bring? The thing is, I needed almost two years of abstinence–and one full year of continuous sobriety–to get to this point, a point that I never imagined existed let alone believed I could reach. Slow learner? Maybe. Do I want to put in that kind of work again? Nope.
Four more weeks! And then…what? Waiting for Godot…