I suddenly realized it’s the 27th, which means it was 8 months ago today that I decided enough was enough re: post-drinking anxiety, and that it was time to give up the vino.
Here’s what it’s like, for me, at least, in a (hopefully!) short-ish and honest list:
It’s seeing family on FaceTime when you’re wearing lazy clothes and no makeup and they can’t stop raving about how good and radiant you look. (Well, they are your family, but still.)
It’s about looking back at the past 8 months and going, holy crap, all those days I thought was accomplishing nothing, I actually did do a bunch of stuff, and dealt with life head on. In a very honest fashion. Perhaps too honest at times. As in scary honest. But shit got done. (Example: a teacher at the local school who started out the year by verbally abusing the most challenging kids in the class — likely the ones from the most challenging homes — has made a complete turnaround. It’s wonderful. For the kids, for their classmates, for the parents of those kids and classmates, but also for the school and for her as well. #Gratitude.)
In relation to that last point: I see a lot of stuff and a lot of symptoms in the local environment. I don’t judge (not very harshly, at least, or not for long); that’s the beauty of being a self-confirmed addict. But I notice, and though I have no idea how best to help, I do that thing where you call on Deeper Power, Great Spirit, Tree, or whatever you like to call it, and ask what the best course of action is. Then I try my best to do that thing.
Usually the Tree — which is a huge angelic being of radiant light, not visible to the naked eye, but can be felt whenever I gaze up at this huge linden tree in front of our house — gives a very simple directive such as, “Take it easy.” Or, “Let it be.” But also sometimes, “Do the right thing.” “Tell the truth.” “Forgive.” “Live and let live.” It seems hard at first, even to ask a Tree for help (—”a tree, for chrissakes!” my Inner Critic scoffs), but after enacting these directives, whatever they are, I sleep like a baby at night. The beauty of a guilt-free conscience, and of having done the next right thing. When I remember to ask the Tree, so much worry and stress is relieved. I’m no longer the imagined master of the universe. I’m just a humble actor in the universe’s gorgeous play.
Eight months of sobriety is taking for granted the fact that you never have to wonder what exactly you said to the night before, when you got in that argument with your spouse or other adult person/relative.
In fact, arguments don’t happen anymore. It’s really weird. If potential trigger happens — maybe because the adult(s) you’re with is/are drinking a little, and getting exuberant about some button-pushing point or other — you remain calm and stoically cut it short. (Absolutely bizarre for an emotional hothead like me.)
It’s about never needing to take headache pills, so now the only drug you’re still using or addicted to is the caffeine in your morning coffee. And mmmmm, it tastes so good, with a guilt-free conscience. You might have fond memories of story time with your kiddos the next before. Nothing else to do on the agenda but chill and snuggle and turn pages and do everything about bedtime mostly right, at least as right as the tamed mama dragon can manage most nights, which is pretty damed well, now that the wine hound isn’t howling down her door.
It’s about realizing that you are in fact an addict, even if you’ve never fit the status quo definition of alcoholic, whatever that is or was.
It’s about realizing that the work of being an addict never ends. Your addictions have only been upgraded — to work, to hobbies, to seeking love, affection and attention, etc. or whatever it is that’s grabbing that hungry ghost inside you, creating a crazy yearning for more.
It’s about remembering again and again to return to quiet, to inner peace, when things feel overwhelming and out of control. Turn off the notifications. Put down the Thing. Make a pot of herb tea. Vacuum a floor. Declutter a desk (again and again, egads, it’s a mess, lol). These things add up and make you feel noble, haha. Call that really dear person. Whoever it is that you know truly cares about you and you for them.
It’s about every now and then missing the fun company of your former nearby drinking friends so badly that you don’t know if you can really go on with this for much longer — but you tell yourself, just this one more day. And the next day it’s fine again and the feeling has passed, and once again, you’re glad you don’t have to wonder what exactly you said or did, and/or posted on social media after midnight.
It’s about being sad when you realize that some friends may not have been true friends, and/or that may not entirely be their fault… especially if you’re not yet outgoing enough or confident enough to host those friends for big dinners or what have you, especially if/when your significant other isn’t social.
It’s about not knowing if this could last a lifetime, nor if you particularly want it to, and sometimes fantasizing about future wilder times at fire evenings or holiday beach cafés or drunken dance parties, letting loose, but also knowing that for this one day at least, you know you’re better off without wine. So you stay sober. And you know for a massive fact that you do not need wine to dance, nor to play music. In fact, you dance way better, and play music way better, if you ever choose to, without it.
It’s about being happy that right now you are actually typing into the online editor of a blog you created eight months ago — to find community, and to pay forward what you learned from countless other sobriety-embracing bloggers before you… and you did find that community, a community which supported you and made this possible, and even made this joyful at times. Some of the most honest, humble, kind people in the blogging world — you get to be part of that group, and bask in their kindness and generosity. This makes you get tears in your eyes with gratitude as you type.
And you realize that the glass beside you is empty… and you go to fill it up again… with water. Or whatever other poison-free drink sails your boat. Just like always, and without even thinking about it, except as you type it here.
You feel clean, you look clean; you *are* clean, or at least, as clean as you can possibly be in this moment — in spirit, mind and body. Things are not perfect, but you know without a doubt you are doing your damned best. So f*ck the rest.
(And still sometimes trying not to swear… with varying success. ;))
Thanks for all you do. I’ve made it this far because of you. To me, you’re the Tree, too.
p.s. eek, short-ish part didn’t work out. again. ah well… in the words of Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
p.p.s. if this post had any value to you, many thanks is owed to SoberAndWell.blog, who perhaps inadvertently dragged this post back out of temporary private mode, with her own recent post… http://soberandwell.blog/2019/11/27/a-few-things/ (WP reader link: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/87918280/posts/2499651761) — She, along with a number of other bloggers, as I have written before in other posts, was a huge inspiration to me before starting this blog.