I get “this” because I’m sober

16 Feb

2:08 pm

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…

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11 Responses to “I get “this” because I’m sober”

  1. recoverymaldives February 16, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Truly inspirational, loved every part of your sharing. I’ll take some pointers from there. I commend you for being rational when you get the urge or cravings to take that one drink. I find that part the most difficult. Staying stopped gets harder for me sometimes; it’s a continuous battle.

    Thanks a lot for sharing and wish you all the best in your recovery; I’m so happy for you. 🙂

  2. Learning Living Freely February 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Congratulations! 11 months, that’s wonderful 🙂 I have a while to go until I’m at where you’re at, but I often think about reaching that one year mark (probably more than I should) and I think about trying to drink again and if it will work, how it will work, etc.

    “It’s an escape at best, an excuse at worst–that’s all it is,” that is going to stick with me (fingers crossed) because it is so true! Is the “escape” really ever worth it either? I feel stronger when I’m not using alcohol to relieve my stress/ worries, even though I’d really like to sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing, it really helps!

  3. carrieonsober February 16, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Oh, there is so much positive in this post and then there is this tiny bit where it seems like you don’t seem to think that you deserve all the lovely fruits of you new found sober life. What if we saw ‘escapism’ or the ‘chaos’ we miss for what it really is? The need to go back to the feeling of I am just not worth being with. I need to get away from me, to hide from myself? You are someone worth being with, no more hiding. And when you are not hiding or hurting anymore, yes, you get those wonderful ‘I get this’ moments. I had one today, a fabulous walk with my girl and the dog, sunshine and a breathtaking hilltop view of the city of London with the first signs of spring all round. I used to just get through Sunday’s, willing the day and the hang over to end. I never stopped to really look, stopping meant feeling, feeling meant hurting. It’s different, it’s better. Today, just stick with that. There might just be even better to come xx

  4. esah8 February 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Good stuff!

  5. erics1100paces February 16, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    “It simply took me 20 years to see what a sham alcohol actually is.”

    Amen to that, sister.

    I looked for a lot of things from alcohol at 20. Often enough I believed I had found something magical in a bottle. But in the light of day, it mostly looked like shame. In the best instances, it was glittery tissue. I searched for something different from it at 30, and couldn’t find that either. I was still looking for it at 40, and the search became desperate, headlong, destructive to my loved ones, work, identity, esteem. It damaged my soul.

    There’s nothing there. It is, as you say, a sham.

  6. changingcoursenow February 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Such a great post and filled with reminders for me to stay sober as well. Almost one year. I hope you treat yourself really well!

  7. Lilly February 17, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    It is soooo great to read this having followed you pretty much from the start. And it gives me hope that, despite my recent struggles, I will get there too, as I know you obviously struggled with the on-off at the beginning then a (albeit very fleeting) slip and still… holy hell… here you are… almost a whole entire year sober! Amaze balls. And definitely Unicorn Glitter Parade territory FER SURE.

    You know, I really thought of you recently when I was drinking in terms of the whole thing you’ve said here, and before, about how drinking won’t add anything. There was one night in particular, a party, where I drank, that was kind of boring. And I realised that had I not been drinking I would likely have felt left out and like I was being boring and it was boring because I wasn’t drinking. When, in fact, it was just kind of a boring night, for whatever reason, and drinking truly didn’t add anything. All it did really did was leave me with a hangover and detract from my Sunday.

    What I’m saying is… your comments in the past about how drinking doesn’t really add anything have really helped me at times stay sober and when I tested the theory – lo and behold,you were right! And if you test this theory after a year I bet you’ll find you’re still right!

    Plus, as my recent experience has also shown, you may also find it’s not as easy as it was before to just hop back on your sober wagon and is it worth that risk? Imagine if you found yourself again struggling to string days together and not being able to go more than two weeks. Wouldn’t that suck? Yes, it sucks! Don’t even go there. You have come soooo far. Go reread your earliest posts if you need more ammunition 🙂

    The comment about pride really struck me too because I was just reflecting on that recently too; how that pride you feel in sobriety is so awesome and how drinking takes that away and leaves this empty aching icky shame. Again, why go there?

    So proud of you and happy for you.

    Lilly xo

  8. Belle February 17, 2014 at 5:00 am #

    you, my dear, are a girl who has outgrown the sewer. no more hiding for you. can’t wait to throw some glitter your way … coming right up!

  9. Just Some Woman February 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    You’ve come a long way DDG, even though some days it feels like you haven’t. I’m the same way. And quite frankly there are occasions where I just KNOW that a cold beer will taste like nectar from the gods. And then I remember that one becomes 10 a day in no time at all and I will be back to the same shit. Planning, hiding, hating, whining, over and over and over. I might be 52 years old but I can guarantee you I can show my ass like a 16 year old, get a drunk driving ticket, get in a fight, go to jail, lose my husband, house, etc. just like “those other drunks” do. I’m just like them and right now it’s just not worth it.

  10. Mrs D February 18, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Ooohh yes the ‘getting ready to go out’ wine or 2. Those pangs are hard to avoid because there’s always a little bit of nerves associated with getting ready to go out. But hey… 1 month to go??!! I will be standing by with glitter as well! Loving your journey xxx

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