9 Months Sober

9 months sober as of July 1st.

It’s taken me a while to muster up the motivation to share my monthly update. I’ve had my ups and downs for the past month and a half. I’ve been talking with my therapist and she suggested that I try AA. Right now, I’m not very willing to try AA because I think people who do AA should have the desire to give up drinking forever. I don’t have that desire right now. Because of that, I sometimes wonder what the point of my current sobriety is. Should I simply start practicing moderation? Can I moderate effectively? I don’t know.

Coincidentally I attended an AA meeting last week because someone I love was celebrating 5 years of sobriety. I can’t say who it is, because that would break AA’s 11th tradition and would violate the whole anonymity thing. Anyway, I’ve known this person for a long time and his life has been improved immeasurably by giving up drinking.

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This person has been an inspiration to me and many others who are in the program with him. Many attribute their sobriety to him. During the meeting, he told his story to the group. Five years ago this would have never, EVER happened, since he always struggled with severe anxiety and hated being the center of attention. He discussed his struggles with anxiety and how that was the main reason he drank. He said he always wanted to be like people who approached social situations so easily. Alcohol gave him the confidence to talk to people and made him more of a “fun” person since it decreased his anxiety.

I immediately identified with this. I think being sober has made me realize that I’m naturally kind of a shy person who doesn’t say a lot. This is SO. WEIRD. But I remember that I was always a quiet kid in school. Alcohol has been the lubricant for myself and social situations for years, so it’s hard for me to remember what I was like before that. I, too, have also wished that I could be like people I know who are so good at talking to people. My Dad and several of my friends are social masters, and in turn they are very likeable people. I have always wished to be more like them and I try to practice some of their conversation tactics, but I’m just not a very social person naturally. I think part of it is because I want people to like me so badly and I’m afraid that I will mess things up by saying the “wrong” thing. I am also so, SO afraid of sounding stupid. So I tread carefully in conversation.

Back to my loved one celebrating 5 years of sobriety. He also recalled a time where he got into a terrible car accident and was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. His only thought while he was in the ambulance was, “Why didn’t they just leave me there?” While I have never been in a terrible accident myself, I have often wished something bad would happen to me. Suicide goes against the morals that have been branded into my brain and it would just be so much EASIER if something happened that wasn’t of my own volition that would simply take me out. I often think of what a relief that would be (I recognize that this is depressive thinking and have discussed it with my therapist).

Alcohol ruined this person’s life. Just ruined it. He lost several jobs, lost his driver’s license after a DUI, alienated his family members, lost good friends, hung out with terrible friends who took advantage of him financially, and turned into someone unrecognizable.

The most painful part of watching a loved one struggle with addiction is that you KNOW that good person is somewhere in there, but he’s hidden away. Occasionally he shows himself because he’s the type of person who would literally give someone the shirt off his back. A kind gesture makes you temporarily remember who he really is because he was always thoughtful. But he’s almost impossible to be around because he’s SO. NERVOUS. (it makes you want to drink too) and so prone to anger that you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around him. And as you get older and as you start to experience some of that same anxiety and anger, you see how alcohol helps you relax and love everyone. This is why he drinks until his eyes are dead. This is why he blacks out and embraces oblivion. This is why his soul dies, because he’s just trying to kill the bad parts. But in the process, he destroys everything.

And the problem for you is that it hasn’t ruined your life yet. You saw him and how bad he was and you thought you’d never be that bad. But there’s still a part of you that wants to destroy the unpleasant parts of yourself. But they’ll never go away.

They’ll never go away.

Why can’t I be perfect.

Why can’t I be like that person. They have their shit together.

Why do I have to be myself.

I’m UNCOMFORTABLE. I CARE. Drinking and over-medicating rid me of these.

I am willing to ruin my life so I don’t feel this way.

Back to this special person. Every year, he receives a medallion for his sobriety. And every year, he gives it away. In fact, he has given away every key chain and every chip, in addition to every medallion. Even his 5 year medallion.

He does this to thank others for helping him along the way, but mostly to show those who are struggling that anything is possible.

Anything is possible. Your true self is possible. She may not be perfect, and that bothers you SO MUCH. But you need to accept her. You need to let her be.

You need to nourish her. Not destroy her.

Because there’s good in her.

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