Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Nine Months Sober

I was going to wait for any sobriety "brag" posts until I reached the one year mark in August but in the time of COVID I need a distraction, and that distraction is me. It's hard to believe that around this time nine months ago I threw up in front of my friends (ok, chosen fam) outside at Plank for our annual night out after the first day of school tradition. Well, it was at least a two year tradition, possibly three. I'll have to look back in my iPhone photos to see for sure.

I was nursing a two day hangover. I hadn't had particularly that much to drink by that evening, but the pint I ordered wasn't sitting well. And...well, you know the rest.

Fast forward to now, since I passed my previous streak of just shy of seven months (as you recall, dear reader, my first stint on the wagon was from March 11th - September 28th, 2018), I thought I'd have a difficult time keeping it going from there. COVID has been a distraction, but if there was any doubt I would have jumped hard off the wagon once quarantine kicked into high gear. That has not been the case.

I think the hardest part to overcome was the social, identity aspect of the drinking. Who would I be if not for the guy who liked to have a beer or glass of wine in his hand? Would I fit in? Would I feel left out?

Recovery Dharma helped me in my early days this time around, and it had given me the tools I needed to keep going. I haven't been to a meeting there after about the first 3 months, but it was enough then to keep me going, and to give me some tools to learn to let go of the things that, on balance, lead me to the misery and suffering I was experiencing at that new low point nine months ago.

In truth, what also helped is K examined some of her resentments as well and was willing to let go of them. That part happened unexpectedly fast, it was a little disorienting at first. I had been so entrenched in expecting an adversarial, or at least skeptical, relationship for at least six months after that latest lapse in judgement. After all, we were less than twenty four hours away from telling our kids we were going to separate for a while. But, as she told me later, she realized that I was sick, and I needed to get well. And I made sure to stay on the path to getting well. Sometimes getting well means getting rest, drinking plenty of water and eating the things that don't exacerbate what you're sick with. In my case, it was once again removing the cause of the illness I had, the alcohol.

During my 2018 wagon trial run, it wasn't long before I was preparing for re-entry, since I had set a deadline for myself. This time it was different. Because I knew that, after going back, there was no going back to some previous period of moderate, healthy, social drinking. It was going back to the place where I crossed the line previously. And it didn't take long to creep back. So this time I knew I had to re-examine my life altogether.

I'm on a good path now. I don't look forward to the evenings as much any more, where I could get the rest of my life and obligations out of the way so I could sit down and do what I really wanted, which was to veg out and drink. I look forward to the mornings, where I get up not feeling like shit and have some time to myself to gather myself before everyone else wakes up.

As for the quarantine, two months in almost now - I'm better equipped for dealing with that since I am already in the "one day at a time" mindset. As we can only control our own behavior and not try and regulate the rest of the world through "guilting and shaming," I'm keeping the blinders on and marching ahead.

I also made it to 50. I played a concert of the old songs I'd been holding onto on the night of my birthday, some as old as 30 years. It was on Facebook live, straight from the laptop, immediately after Kiera surprised me with a parade of our chosen fam and crew outside our house, where Nathan almost knocked me flat on my ass, tossing a 15 1/2 lb brisket. I went back and listened to my little concert later. While it's true that should have used a separate mic, not the built-in condenser with the built in noise cancellation -- It sounded like I was singing inside of a toilet and I looked like I was taking a shit half the time while playing -- of course I'm my own worst critic and people seemed to genuinely enjoy it. Those songs were tailor made for that format, because they're better if you're paying attention. They would have faded into the background in some club with people talking in the back of the room. You take the good with the bad, and COVID in this case forced something one might call "the good" in terms of forcing me to put on a concert where people were more likely to want to check out since, well, since there's not a lot of other live music to choose from. Full stop.

I put the performance on my "band page."

Nine months is by far the longest I've gone without a drink (or other mild substance, like pot) since I can remember. Probably since the beginning, when I was 18 and off to college. As with last time, my sweet tooth, something I hadn't had since I was a kid, has returned. And though I've read Recovery 2.0 and reserve the right to move in that direction in due course, I'm not ready for the full bore, hardcore just yet. I don't have a full bore, hard core addictive personality. I've learned that, because my struggle hasn't been to the full extreme like it may be with some people I know and love. I have to be mindful of it, and of complacency in general (in all things outside of recovery as well), but I haven't had any nights where I've been jonesing for the drink. I'm getting used to life without it, and without hangups about it. I have no doubt I'll be back here on August 13, when it's officially one year since I quit, to report back I'm still on the path of one day at a time, not needing to turn to that crutch.

If I can make it to my 50th birthday and celebrate it without alcohol - something unthinkable a year ago, I can make it through anything. I'm making it through this quarantine, and I'll make it for some other tough times that lie ahead. My folks are way up there in age and my mom isn't in the greatest of health now. And although I don't really know what it feels like to have had true loss of someone that close, I'm pretty confident that however I will feel when the time comes, the first thing I'm not going to do is turn back to the bottle. I've had my mid-life crisis and it has passed, and I feel confident that I can tackle what else comes head-on as well, without a need for a crutch or an escape.

I humbly hope I can hold myself accountable for that.

See you in 3 months.

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