There comes a point in sobriety where you have to force yourself to confront difficult emotions without any crutches. These are not easy moments, nor are they completely unfamiliar to you. In fact, these are the same thoughts and memories that would, in another life, drive you to open the bottle and get blasted. But now that you’re sober, there’s a new, naked vulnerability invading your inner world and it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.
On December 19, 2016, I promised myself that I was finished playing around. No more relapses. No more bi monthly binge. I was going to take my sobriety seriously and go all in. The thirty days that followed were a roller coaster, one that I am still on, but filled with lessons and insights I will take to help me get through the next thirty.
Sobriety, as with most things, is uniquely personal. I don’t purport to speak for the sober community or to suggest that my experience is normal. I only hope that my insights may prove helpful to someone else who reads this blog, like I’ve done with so many other writers, and says “me too.”
Alcohol is everywhere. It permeates our culture. It’s in advertisements, movies, literature, our yoga classes (which still baffles me). Before I started getting serious about sobriety, I hadn’t really noticed because it was so ingrained into my everyday life. Of course we can find it in all the old familiar places: bars, clubs, restaurants. But it doesn’t end there. We’ve got book clubs with wine. Baby showers with wine. Painting classes with wine. Concerts in the park. With wine. We are constantly being inundated with the idea that we need alcohol to have fun, socialize, kick back, or function successfully.
I did it! I’ve officially made it through the holidays without drinking. It was not easy and I had doubts about whether I would make it through New Year’s.
Y’all. It is December 26th and I feel like a weight has lifted. I am reveling in the magic of this morning (with a dash of grief for the death George Michaels to which I say, “F*ck you, 2016”). I woke up, dragged my ass to the gym, made a protein smoothie and then gave myself some space to appreciate the fact that I am not in bed hungover with a slight cough from smoking because I came very, VERY close to that reality.
Everybody who celebrates (and many who don’t) have their own relationship with Christmas. Generally speaking, I like this holiday. I like the music, the baked goods, the warmth. For me Christmas evokes the imagery of fire places, warm sweaters, hot cocoa, and family. Last year was particularly great as I got to spend the holiday season in Rome. This year, however, the hubs and I stayed in the UAE, far away from family and friends and I struggled through the entire day. Here are the three very big thorns in my sober side from Christmas 2016.
I’m spending a lot of time these days reading addiction memoirs. After finishing Caroline Knapp’s book, I moved on to David Carr’s Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own. This is a fascinating book conceptually. Carr discusses at length our inability as humans to accurately recall our past. This is particularly true for addicts, so he decided to approach his memoir from the standpoint of a journalist. He interviewed the people from his past to arrive at some closer version of the truth about his life and the days he spent using.
Carr is a phenomenal writer and although I’m only fifty pages in, I am picking up a lot of insights and nuggets of wisdom. I read something today in his book that made me pause and do a little personal unpacking. Carr writes: “But being an addict means that you never stipulate to being an adult. You may, as the occasion requires, adopt the trade dress of a grown-up, showing responsibility and gravitas in spurts to get by, but the rest of the time, you do what you want when you want…