Sobriety is not what I thought it would be. I’ve an abundance of experience in not drinking, I’ve done it quite a few times. Consider me an expert. I know exactly what to expect. Loneliness. Fear. Escapism. I play the warden of my incarceration, solitarily confined to my own head, both victim and inmate. Just don’t drink. Oh how easy that sounds. Skin crawls, sleeping in 30-minute increments, irritable of everything and nothing. But it will pass. This I know. I know this too well. What I don’t know, what I’ve always failed at, is how to stay stopped. For an alcoholic like me, that is a huge problem to have.
My previous record in not drinking is about five months. I’m a little over two years sober today. Part of me is hesitant on writing about this because I do not want to create the perception that I am never going to drink or use again. It seems odd to me that anytime I’ve said, “I never,” I find myself doing the exact thing I said I’d never do. Never say never; never ever. Nor should this be construed as giving myself an out should I fail.
To piggyback in regards to my prior experiences of sobriety, I always became proud of my time in sobriety; a vanity that made me better than you because I don’t drink. I am also aware of the “feeling better” effect, whether it is months or just hours after a commitment to not drink, and the very moment a drug or 17 Gatorades gave me back my wits, I was drinking again. Insanity. Every time I convinced myself that I am okay, or that two drinks in five months should still be considered success, it always resulted in the newest worst hangover ever. An unprepared liver being drowned by the same alcoholic mind.
I’ve an internal reaction to alcohol that most people don’t have. Some call it an allergy, others call it a chemical imbalance, but for me, it is an obsession. Like the Incredible Hulk, once it starts, it’s going to take a while to come down. I’ll wake up to the damage. My solution is to not let it start, it is the only way I know. There is not enough alcohol in the world to satisfy me anyway. I’ve never sat on an uncomfortable barstool. Nobody has ever made me a drink that was too strong. I’ll always have just one more.
But I’ve done this. I’ve stopped before. What makes this any different? I am happy and I’m sober. I did not believe the two could co-exist. Happiness or sobriety were my only two choices, so I thought. Not both, and definitely not at the same time. My two years might look like a thousand to some, and it might look like a day to others. Time in sobriety was never meant to be measured. The fact that I am sober doesn’t make me better than; the fact that I was drunk doesn’t make me less than. Being an alcoholic doesn’t make me a bad person, neither does the mistakes I made. It is my intent to own up, clean up, and repair the damage of the chaos I created. When I decided to get my shit together, I ended up with a big pile of shit. In the meantime, I work at staying sober:
- I’ve shortened my commitment of not drinking for life to simply not drinking for today.
- I’ve stopped negotiating with God. I never could meet my end of the bargain anyway.
- I’ve learned the real definition of alcoholism, and I’m not embarrassed to be an alcoholic.
- I’ve grown spiritually, my relationship with God is personal and the foundation of my sobriety.
- I’ve found strength, with an ability to overcome fear, through humility and honesty.
- I’ve spent time in helping others find their own solution, something I never tried before.
Sobriety starts with not drinking but it doesn’t end there; not for me and not today. The old path was living in my head, thought after thought, wish after wish. I’ve learned that if there is no action planned behind the thoughts in my head, my thinking is useless, unless I want suffering. It is good for me to desire a better life but to do nothing except think of it is a living hell. Every single day is a clean slate, a new opportunity to make amends for yesterday and prepare for tomorrow, but I don’t let either of those tasks keep me from living today or accepting what is. As far as my alcoholism goes, I accept that it’ll never been fixed. Even if there was a magic pill, I’d probably take 12 of them anyway. I am not okay, and I am completely okay with that. It gives me something to do.