So, I got a full-time job. After three-and-a-half years. I should be happy, since this has been in the works for almost a year (yeah, a full year of soul searching, job searching, and networking). Why do I feel like my sober bubble is about to burst? Or, like I’m about to jump off my sober cliff–and into what? Free fall?
Actually, I ventured into the real world of real people and tens of millions of stressful triggers last year, and have continued to branch out in 2014 and 2015. This year, I’ve decided, is going to be–has been–all about continuing to build off of what I created last year. I’ve been working nearly non-stop this spring as a barista and freelance journalist, but the writing (no pun intended!) is definitely on the wall: it’s an unsustainable (and physically exhausting) way to earn a living. So, I found a full-time gig doing what I was doing (and what, from an outside perspective, drove me to become Drunky Drunk Girl) in the place I was doing it (albeit, much farther south, and therefore, not really in the same place). And, while I have re-entered the world already, and managed just fine, this is still a huge transition. I’ve created so much here that is SO different from my old life–and hence, my old drinking self–can I pull it off and continue to build on what I’ve done here, there? We’ll see, is about all I’ve got.
What no one told me about sobriety is that I would miss the early days of my “sobriety cocoon.” And that I would sort of live OFF of it, like a spider consuming whatever it’s caught and wrapped up in its silken web. And that maybe that wasn’t a good idea, to nurse my sobriety cocoon like a bottle, but that’s what I did. That’s what I did…until it got old, boring, until I saw that I really needed to venture out, to forage again for real sustenance. It was my pink cloud of endless awesome–a hermetic existence that made it possible for me to exist, almost child-like, in newfound wonder. It helped that I quit Corporate America, started my own business, and moved somewhere totally exotic. It helped that I had a sober support network that allowed me to work less and think/ponder/analyze every gory detail of my sober journey. I needed that. I really, really needed that. And, as it turns out, so did many of my readers.
It’s not that I’m no longer grateful to be sober–I am, and more and more every day. The other morning, someone I worked with showed up to barista with a supreme hangover, complete with the 30 texts sent to the boy she’s currently fixated on, the other 20 calls to him and random friends, and the falling-down, bruises-from-out-of-nowhere drunkenness that lasted until her shift started (with me) at 5:30 am. Oof, was mostly what I thought. But also, eh, who cares? What can I do for her? And then, probing deeper, a desire on my part to turn away and FORGET that I was there, not too long ago. A desire so intense to completely just forget, let it go, move on, NOT remember that I was there, not too long ago.
This desire I have to say, Fuck this sobriety bullshit, and move on, is strong right now, has been for a while (hence, the lack of blog posts). But, another part of me–the one that became a drunk, and the one that had the need to write this blog–can’t help but wonder, is it OK for me to do that? To let it go? It’s not that I can’t empathize, it’s been too long; it’s that, I can, and I just don’t want to.
But I have to. And, I don’t think it has anything to do with wanting to be nice to people or do the right thing–those two things are givens. It’s that I’m still there. I’m still there, in a way.
The longer I’m sober, the more I realize that I can’t just shove this “sobriety bullshit” into a box under the bed and wipe my hands of it. It’s there, this “alcoholism” thing, and it’s not going anywhere. I’m not “once a drunk, always a drunk,” though–like, the long-term effects of physiological dependence elude me to this day (in other words, who the fuck knows? Wine no longer works for me, but maybe someone else with three years might have a glass and not feel dizzy, confused, and flat?). What I am is STILL insecure, and STILL grappling with questions that truly have no answers. I guess I’m learning to live in and with that insecurity, that instability, that uncertainty, that moving-sands, that lack-of-answers. Those questions of self, of purpose, of existence–they’re still there, and they’re still somehow related to why I drank copious amounts of wine for a decade.
And, the fact remains that everyone has to cope with what this is, which is LIFE. And these people did not also become drunks. Hmmm…
The difference between early and later sobriety is this: ya have to live in the drinking world as a sober person, and you have to embrace the fact that it’s NEVER going to go away. Your past, that is. And, it shouldn’t. The fact that you DID do all that shit, and you DID drink the way you drank. The fact that your alcoholic drinking unfortunately has NOTHING to do with alcohol (would that it did!?). Really–very, very little. Sure, it was fun and you got buzzed and you got addicted because it helped you cope, but, in the end, the bigger motivations hovered dead-center around self-esteem, trauma, perfectionism. We know this. You know this. So, forgetting about your drinking is like forgetting about the present-day issues that still linger. You can’t, if you want to keep growing and keep healing–and frankly, keep helping others who are still stuck in addictive behavior.
The longer I’m sober, the more I see JUST how long healing takes. Recovery. I’m still recovering: lost income, lost relationships, lost confidence. I’m catching up, and I’m building. I’m beyond satisfied that I got to spend most of my initial sobriety in a tropical paradise, literally recovering in isolation. It was what allowed me to have the patience to dissect my process–and the faith to see a labor-intensive start to a freelance writing business through a nasty 18-month bout of PAWS (no motivation, will I ever WANT to work again?).
Have there have been many times these past 12 months where I just wanted to put the sober thing in a box, shove it under the bed, and say, Ugh, I’m done with this? YES. To say, let’s MOVE the fuck ON? YES. However, the reality is, I drank alcoholically–for reasons that I’m not quite sure I’ll ever truly pin down, define, or exorcise. And that alcoholic-ness is what lies at the root of simple behavioral reactions that still trip me up in my day-to-day life!
I’ve made SO much headway this year and the last, in forging ahead, getting back into the workforce, and interacting with “normal” people in the real, non-sober world. Now, the big test awaits: can I somewhat seamlessly go back to doing what I was doing (albeit with a strong foothold remaining in the world of freelance journalism)? I’d say yes, but I’ll also say, I’m nervous. I’m wondering. What will be? What will happen? Am I leaving my greatest creation behind, this “new me” that I’ve spent three years building? Or, does she come with me now, wherever I go, and whatever I do? All I can say to myself is, hold onto your heart, which happens to resemble (or even be) journalism. It saved me once, twice, and will save me again. It’s part of my sense of purpose and creative agency (and urgency)–the lack of which are my biggest triggers. These things I know, so I’m hoping that knowing this, and having practiced this for so long now, will carry me through the next six months…
I’ll keep you posted!
(And, it’s good to be back! Thanks for reading, friends.)