Just for tonight

Just for tonight. 

Just one more day. 

You can make it through one more night. 

Worry about tomorrow tomorrow. 

Just get through tonight. 

Whatever it takes,

But come out with your sobriety in tact,

Just for tonight. 

30 Days

I can’t believe it’s been 30 days. It seems like forever and yesterday all at the same time. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much and nothing at all. I’ve questioned most things in my life and almost all of the past decisions I’ve made, and I’ve came up with absolutely zero answers because there aren’t any. I’ve learned things in the past 30 days about myself that I never knew. I’ve loved my sober self and hated me more than I would like to admit. But not once did I escape. Not once did I do something I was ashamed of and get fucked up so I couldn’t feel the embarrassment or the frustration.

On day 30 it was really easy to convince myself that 30 days was good enough. I proved to myself I could do it and I thought to myself, “I’m probably fine now”. Like any addict, this wasn’t my first time hitting 30 days and thinking that. However, this will be the first time that I make it to 60 days. It’s easy to think that I could probably have a glass of wine or beer at dinner but I know I’m not ready. I know that I would end up right back where I was. It probably wouldn’t be tomorrow or even a month from now, but it would be guaranteed that at some point I would be drinking too much and substitute it for one of my addictions, convincing myself that it is better for me somehow. In my haze, I would also manage to convince myself that I was never really an addict in the first place. Fast forward a handful of months and I am right back where I was 30 days ago.

I can’t go back to that place. I can’t go back to that place because coming out of it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I never want to do it again and that’s what keeps me from convincing myself that I may be ok. I’m afraid that if I slipped I would never convince myself to be sober again. In fact, I’m sure I would convince myself that being sober isn’t worth it and I’m fine the way that I am. I don’t want to live in a haze. I want to be myself. What’s the point of having a life if I can’t be me?

This is the longest I’ve ever been sober. When I think of that and I think of all the seemingly impossible goals I have for my life, I can’t help but think that I am doing the impossible every day. Every day that I manage to stay sober I’ve done what I thought was impossible just 30 days ago. It’s the most empowering and inspirational thing I’ve ever done for myself. Just for today, I’m not ready to give it up.

A Guardian Angel

My mom told me this story one time about a man in church who had long, disheveled hair and a raggedy, unkempt beard. She came to find out that he had cataracts. One day, he came in with his hair freshly cut and his beard shaven, and she commented on how nice he looked. He told her that he had been nearly blind due to his cataracts for several years, but he was able to get surgery last week. After he came out of surgery he saw how he looked and immediately went to the barber.

I feel like the old man in the story. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I see wrinkles I never knew I had, half the time my attitude is absolute shit, and I’m exhausted all the time. I feel like I’ve been in the dark for the last 13 years and someone finally turned on the light. I see these creases in my forehead and wrinkles around my eyes, and I struggle to recall the years I was earning them, laughing and crying. I can’t figure out what has callused me throughout the years to make me feel so angry and anxious in certain situations. And I have no idea how I use to have so much energy on just a few hours of sleep when now I can barely seem to function on seven hours and a pot of coffee.

I think that’s the most painful thing of all about being sober. Realizing all the time you’ve missed, all the memories you lost, all the people you were too fucked up to love. Now there’s no escaping it. Before, when this realization would become too real there was always some bottle of something to escape down. Now it’s just me and a head full of misplaced memories trying to find their place.

Whoever has the secret to making me feel ok with all of this, I would love to meet them. Actually, I would love to be their best friend and make them guide me through this life so I can’t fuck up again. I would love to have them by my side to tell me everything is wonderful when it actually is but, for some reason, I feel the complete opposite. I would love a guardian angel.

When You Think You’re Ok Is When You Know You’re Not. 

As I’m writing this I am sitting at an NFL preseason game thinking, “Why the HELL did I think this was a good idea?” Why did I think it was a good idea to come to my favorite place to watch football and have many many beers. A place where everyone else is also having many many beers and doesn’t understand why you aren’t “having fun with them”. 

I’ll tell you why. I thought I was ok. I’ve been sober for 16 days now. The last few days haven’t seemed so bad. In my sober world, a few days seems like weeks so I feel like I’m doing a great job. In fact, I feel like I’m doing such a good job that I could probably handle just one beer. Well, maybe just one night of drinking. It’s just drinking after all and I’m sober from narcotics not alcohol, right? I mean, how long can I really be expected to not have a glass of wine at dinner or a beer while watching football? Not to mention, I was a functioning addict so maybe that’s not really an addict and maybe I just needed a few days to get some clarity. 

And then I realize that if I am trying that hard to rationalize it, if I am fixating on it that much, then I must not be ok. Then once I’ve decided I shouldn’t, I am angry at everyone who is and I’m naseus and I just need to get to my seats. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just need to sit in silence and watch the game. 
So, no, I’m not ok. I’m not going to be ok. But I can’t avoid the things I love the rest of my life just because I used to drink or self-medicate while doing them, otherwise, I would never be able to do anything ever again. So for now I’m going to eat my pizza and churro and cotton candy and drink my over priced bottle of water and sit in silence because that is where I’m at and where I’m at is sober. All that matters is getting through this. It doesn’t have to be pretty. 

It’s the Small Things

Proudest moment of my recovery so far? Managing to not drink ANY of my partner’s hydrocodone syrup they got for their recent sinus infection. I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, that’s fucked up”. Or, if you’re also an addict, “Congratulations! That stuff is amazing!”. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here though. I did ask them to hide it from me while I was in the shower.

The thing I am most proud of about the whole scenario is that while they were sleeping I didn’t even attempt to search for it. Before I was sober I would have searched every corner, bag, drawer, and car until I found it ,and in the first few days of sobriety they would have had to take it out of the house completely or I would have left. So, for me, this is a huge step in the right direction. I won’t say a step to “normalcy” because I still had the thought of drinking it, but I did have the wherewithal to ask for it to be hidden and the self-control not to search for it.

A lot of recovery feels like a series of beating yourself up over how you’ve acted in the past, who you’ve hurt, and how you’ve damaged yourself so when you do get a win in the right direction it deserves to be recognized. It’s a HUGE step in the right direction even if it seems insignificant to those around us. This is especially true if you’re a functioning addict who has been hiding your addiction and is now having to hide your struggle and pain of recovery. You have to hide all of your successes as well which some how makes them seem trite. Well not tonight people! I’m celebrating this little win and taking this momentum into the week with me. This one is for me.

Like a Kid Again

Even after just a few days of being sober I started to remember the person I use to be before I started trying to escape reality. It was as if I had ran into an old friend from my youth, the same person I had left behind but callused by the experience that comes with adulthood. I spent the last 13 years hiding from that person. Hiding behind this other person I had created under a veil of drugs and alcohol. I hid for so long that I had completely forgotten what that person had been like and assumed that, regardless of the drugs and alcohol, I would have ended up the same person. It only took three days of sobriety to realize how wrong I had been.

I began to wonder, how did I possibly make it this far in a career, this far in my life with such an amazing partner and friends? How could people stand to be around me? I had become so selfish when I was once so patient, open-minded and caring. I was embarrassed for myself and sad for the time I had lost getting to be me. I always thought I was living my life to the fullest when really I was the one just going through the motions. This grief of time lost was so intense that the first several days were full of remorse and depression and some days still are. I felt like I must be an impossible human to be around, and that I was probably better off going back to my old habits. But that was exactly it. It had become a habit for me to escape any kind of real emotion that I started to feel because it just became too much. If I felt anxiety, there’s a pill for that. Any sort of pain? There’s a pill for that too. You name it I can medicate it. Can’t get the medication? Self-medicate.

When I realized it wasn’t just an addiction I had to recover from but a bad habit I needed to break, the cravings became more manageable. That and having someone in my corner reassuring me that no matter how terrible I may seem or feel while I’m sober, I’m much better to be around than the shell of a person I was before.

The more experiences I have to go through, the more I feel like a teenager experiencing complex emotions for the first time. I started using when I was a teenager so I learned to escape instead of cope. I feel like I’m a kid again. Throwing temper tantrums one minute and then blissfully happy to be sober the next. I can’t say this process is particularly enjoyable but I am grateful to have it.

I keep wondering who would I have been without all of this. Would I have taken more strategic life risks? Would I have more long-lasting relationships? I have to remind myself that I can “what if” the rest of my life but it won’t change anything, nor should it. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I am exactly where I should be at this moment, and without these experiences I would be somewhere completely different. So, I am grateful for my experiences, grateful for my ability to share, and grateful for another day sober.

Identifying as an Addict…. Do I have to?

 

I hate the word addict. It makes me seem like I have no self-control, not to mention labels make me uncomfortable. But I guess that’s the point. The only reason I keep the label is to remind myself that, for the time being, I am not allowing myself to have ANY mind-altering substances. For me that’s my true addiction. I just want to mentally check out for a little bit. Kind of like when other people watch TV. The only difference is I seem to always want more and I want it everyday. I always thought I had control over it because I didn’t OD and I could manage it so that I still had a seemingly normal life. What I didn’t have control over was the ability to stop or go a day without.

I keep thinking that maybe one day I’ll be ok, just maybe. One day I’ll be able to enjoy just a glass of wine or I won’t have to refuse the extra pain medication the doctor tries to give me. Maybe one day I won’t spend 2/3rds of my day thinking of these scenarios and wishing they were today. Until then, I guess I’m going to identify as an addict because it is the one word powerful enough to remind me that I actually do not have control.