Looking toward a sober 2014

end-of-time

There are just 35 days left in what has been one of the most difficult, exhausting, remarkable, overwhelming, conscious changing years of my 37 year life.  On March 13, I made it through the day without a drink.  I have maintained that stretch for 260 days.  One day at a time is how I am to live my sober life, but it’s hard not to sneak a peek at tomorrow.

What will 2014 look like?  I don’t know.  I know that I don’t want 2014 to be harder than 2013.  I can’t control what will happen around me, but I can control whether or not I make relapse part of next year’s landscape.  I won’t; I can’t.

I’m confident in the sober support system I’ve built.  I’m much more secure in sobriety today than I was in the early months.  Therefore, I can put attention towards other aspects of my life without worrying about slipping.

I want to evaluate my professional life.  I have a good job that worked very well for 5 alcoholic years.  Now, with a clearer mind and an evolving sense of self, I’m not sure it will work for the next 5 sober years.  I don’t know what I want to do.  I don’t know what I can do, but I’d like to take the time in 2014 to explore the possibilities.

Looking forward is a new concept for me.  Beginning at age 16, when I was certain I’d be dead before 20, I’ve never planned for the future because I’ve never envisioned one.  During the alcoholic years, I lived a reactionary life, simply putting out fires as they came up (which flared up often because this alcoholic osterich doesn’t like to deal with anything before it’s too late to fix).  Without the booze, the anxiety is gone and I can think about short distances into the future without panicking.  It might be fun to try.

Daily Prompt: To Boldly Go…

Let the music play

Music NotesI realized today that I haven’t listened to, or enjoyed, music for years.  In the car, at the gym or while I’m cooking dinner, I listen to talk radio and podcasts instead of music.

As an overly sensitive teenager and young adult, I listened to music during every waking minute.  The songs became the soundtrack to my depressed, suicidal, and eventually alcoholic existence.  I attached memories (good, bad and shameful) to the notes and lyrics, making it emotionally difficult to listen any longer.  During the worst of my alcoholic drinking, I would only listen when I wanted to cry; when I wanted to punish myself and feel all of the shame and self-loathing that I was suppressing with alcohol.

While driving home today, I (on a whim) opened the music app on my phone instead of the podcast one.  I pressed play, which began a pathetically short playlist of music.  I had to hunt for a “fun” song, but was able to find a couple to sing along with.

It was such a long-forgotten feeling: listening to songs that I have known for years, but haven’t enjoyed in many.  For that brief drive home, the depressed feelings and memories of old were not attached to the music and I was able to purely enjoy each song.

I’m excited to put a new playlist together; something I haven’t done in 2 years or more.  Granted, there is nothing in my collection that is newer than 10 years old, but I’m ok with that!  I’ll introduce my new way of life to the music that used to hold so much sadness.

Evil

Destruction SilhouetteTo the alcoholic, booze is pure evil; it creates disastrous misfortune in a most insidious manner.  It slowly, but ever-so progressively, takes hold of an alcoholic’s intuition, rational decision-making skills and eventually, self-worth.  The alcoholic quiets the inner voice that suggests that their drinking is out of control, allowing themselves to justify the choice to drink and drive, eventually believing they deserve nothing better from life than what alcohol provides.  When the alcoholic, who’s lost all sense of inner value and hope, looks back at who they were before the drinking began, it’s baffling to believe that the two versions of self belong to the same person.  That’s the stealthy nature of the evil beast.

I cannot drink again.  For me, one drink will lead to complete destruction of my relationships, my job, my life.  How can a substance be a safe source of occasional social pleasure for some, and a wrecking ball of ruin for another?  Perhaps I cannot call the substance “evil.”  It’s an unfair label on something that a large percentage of the population can consume without eventually becoming destitute.  I am not one of those people.  My body and mind’s reaction to alcohol is evil; it is an abandonment of my intuition and my body’s natural desire to survive and thrive.

I am grateful to have come to this understanding.  For too many years my mind stifled my intuition and allowed me to believe that I could handle a few drinks.  I am grateful to have finally learned from the countless times I gave into this ridiculous theory.  I am grateful that today I do not desire what causes an evil reaction for me.

Daily Prompt: Wicked Witch

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

Day 246: Recovery and Reflections

8 months.  Phew.  I simultaneously wonder where the time has gone and how can it only have been 8 months.  Sometimes it feels like a lifetime.

I’ve been building resentment over particular aspects of my journey.  I am jealous of people who have been able to take time off work to focus on changing their lives.  There must be a level of stress and worry that accompanies time off work that I haven’t had to deal with, but a short break could do wonders, even now.

Almost 6 years ago, I made it 7 months sober before relapsing for 5 solid years.  For the first 3 months of that sobriety attempt, I was unemployed.  My sobriety was kick-started by an event that lead to my unemployment, and my husband and I agreed that I didn’t need to jump into another job.  It was ok for me to take a little time to sort my head out.

It was a good 3 months.  Although it took us many months to recover financially after I started a new job, I am so grateful to have had that time to myself.  I lost weight and was very healthy, being able to dedicate time to the gym and healthy cooking.  5 years (and 50 lbs.) later, I use every excuse to eat terribly and skip physical activity.

On the flip-side, I feel like an absolute failure for wanting another break.  Successful people do not take breaks; healthy people do not need to.  From the outside looking in, my life is incredibly easy: I work an easy 9-5 desk job and I don’t have children to chase after.  What the hell could I possibly need a break from?

Me.

I need a break from me.

How absolutely nauseating to someone with a truly difficult life.

On a positive note, I am not obsessing about alcohol, the way I thought I would be at 8 months.  I began with my therapist on day 3 of sobriety and she reminded me recently that I’d anticipated things to be easy for the first 6 months, but then the craving would come back (it always does).  But it hasn’t this time.  I have enough experience to not say that it’s “gone for good,” but I can say that it’s not been there for a long time.  I don’t romanticize alcohol.  When I do have fleeting thoughts of drinking, they’re not “fun” fantasies.  I don’t picture myself taking a drink and enjoying myself.  I’ve done too much work to ever enjoy alcohol again.  If I go back to it, it will be purely for the self-destructive properties; I won’t fool myself into believing it’s anything other than that.

I am grateful, on day 246, to not worry about relapse.  Today, it’s not on the horizon.