12 THOUGHTS AT 12 YEARS OF SOBRIETY
My name is Brian, and I'm an alcoholic. As of today, I have not had a drink in 12 years. These things occur to me:
- •Addiction believes in meFor what do I have obsessive appetites? What have you got? Quitting drinking was a scary step for me, but it wasn't the last. An addictive personality has to be managed, realistically but with tough love (but again, realistically. But yet again, with tough love.)
- •I'm very comfortable being the only sober guy in the room.It's incredibly freeing. When I first started this journey, my biggest fear was getting pressure to drink. It's never really happened.
- •But I have developed a troubling naïveté about who's drunk, when, and to what degree.Two high school English teachers will start leg-wrestling and I'll realize I've been surrounded by drunks for hours. That secret you told, your palm pressed to my chest, is now inadmissible evidence.
- •My favorite sentiment about recovery comes from David Foster Wallace’s INFINITE JEST. This isn’t an exact quote but very close: “It doesn’t matter if you believe you can make a cake, or if you understand the chemical process by which a cake is made when you mix the ingredients. If you follow the directions on the cake box, the result is a cake."Working my recovery is just about following the steps.
- •I don't get anywhere putting myself above the cliches."One day at a time” “Hurt people hurt people” “It works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it.” Just a few examples of the silly over-earnestness I was shocked could be a comfort and a guide.
- •There is no "cure." I am a permanent work-in-progress. This is empowering sometimes. Hard to swallow other times.Lately (with the exception of TLA) it's been the latter.
- •I still don’t know what dating is without drinking.Getting to know people in ways that don’t revolve around the consumption of conversation-easing beverages? Is that done?
- •It’s possible to love people from afar.Another cliche! I’ve found that many of the attachments I’ve made in my life were (still are! New ones!) emotionally unhealthy and/or unworkable. They became reasons to feel bad about myself, which became reasons to feel hopeless, which is a reason to drink, which is a reason to drink more, which, I'm not disloyal because I don't want to repeat that pattern.
- •People have been impressed by my progress. I should not do this for them.
- •There are people who will never trust or forgive me. I should not do this for them.
- •In sobriety, I've really come in to my own as a Boring Person.Like Fun Bobby said on FRIENDS: "You want to hear something funny? There are no hardware stores open past midnight in the Village." That’s dead-on sobriety, folks. 12 years ago I would have been embarassed to google quinoa salad recipes or talk to a OK Cupid date about crowd-sourced denim (You shouldn't do that, though. The denim thing.)
- •I feel so much gratitude and hope for being able to choose to not drink today, and to have made that choice for the past 12 years.Addiction and recovery is one of my favorite listing subgenres. Especially the lists about just starting out. I’m so glad to get to read your thoughts, and happy for you, for sharing.