September is still Recovery Month…and it’s still my blogs’s 1 year birthday and our anniversary …In honor of this, let’s talk about how being sober affects major life events and milestones.
For many humans, (except in certain cultures, religions and the rare breed we affectionately call “normies”) alcohol plays a starring role, or at least a major supporting character in the significant (and trivial) episodes of our lives. Think of all the events we celebrate and mourn…the reasons we find to “Cheers” or drown our sorrows….
Alcohol was not my DOC (drug of choice). I had a prescription for Vicodin which became a very dear friend of mine over the course of a few years. Alcohol was a close second, partly because it’s accessible and more acceptable than any other addictive substance (except maybe coffee?). Picture our culture as an ocean filled with all-inclusive cruise ships, alcohol flowing like waterfalls. I’m currently on the life raft that only serves club soda. No doubt, it’s been to my benefit. But it’s also a turbulent ride, without a hoppy pint to endure the waves a little more smoothly.
When one becomes sober one faces a whole new set of milestones; occasions to handle sober the first time. In the beginning, it’s hard to believe that it’s possible. First sober Christmas, first sober birthday, first sober sexy time and so on. I saw the writing on the wall early on and prepared myself. I “worked my program” and leaned on support when necessary to endure these situations with a moderate amount of grace. Some more than others – some utterly graceless. For now I’ll save you the graphic details – I don’t know if my mom and daughter are reading. 🙂
Pour yourself a stiff one, and settle in as we reflect together on this past year of my sober “Firsts”, in no particular order:
My daughter moved away to college. I lost my job. I started a new job.
I moved from night shift to day shift and back again. I cared for my father during months of his terminal illness. I participated in the holiday season and all kinds of merrymaking. New year’s eve arrived and Midnight exploded around me.
The Seahawks won; the Seahawks lost. My father passed away. We held a funeral. My boyfriend broke up with me. I had a birthday. Friends and strangers had birthdays. People graduated. I Lunched with Ladies. I went to the spa, got pedicures and did yoga. I attended weddings and baby showers.
I completed a triathlon, a half marathon and various cycling events. I skied and lounged in the ski lodge. I attended concerts and festivals. I had dinner with my family. I hiked to mountain summits. I retained my lawyer AGAIN because my daughter’s father still doesn’t play nice.
I went on boat rides, laid on beaches, traveled, camped, and vacationed in numerous ways. Tuesdays came and went, and ‘5 o’clock somewhere’ happened….every. single. day.
My sober path hasn’t been perfect….if I could have just stopped all use of alcohol and chemicals without a few tries and fails, I wouldn’t be an addict and this blog wouldn’t exist. But all in all, through these affairs, alcohol was not there to soothe me. I could not become numb, relax, take a load off, unwind or otherwise modify my mood/situation/circumstance with alcohol or any other substance. I could not join in, or check out. It’s been really F#%$#ing hard. Sobriety does NOT mean life becomes a ride on a glitter unicorn farting rainbows. It does not mean all your problems go away…to the contrary, it’s often felt like my trouble has increased. BUT……
IT. IS. WORTH. IT.
And it does get better. The problems and consequences directly related to the disorder do start to go away, sometimes all at once, and others a little at a time. It didn’t take me a day to use alcohol excessively, and it won’t be a quick fix to rebuild what I’ve lost. The beauty is that I’m gaining new coping skills, and while the problems don’t disappear, how I relate to these problems has changed dramatically. THAT, dear readers, is the secret to a happy life.
I’ve no doubt I’m going to survive all of it. Even my newest hurdle; the “First” I’m currently experiencing:
Yep. I’m sober and single.
If there ever was a situation that called for a glass of wine or a pint of beer, it’s a first date. Especially a first blind date with a guy you meet online.
Could I have a break here, folks? Just a thimbleful maybe….?
I’m sort of joking of course…. Surely, it would be “easier” to anesthetize myself a little while sitting across the table from a stranger I may or may not be attracted to. Undoubtedly, it would be “less painful” to be slightly tipsy while trying to come across witty and adorable as I’m cutting my slice of pizza into tiny bites so as not to make a mess of my face in front of a man that may or may not want to kiss me goodnight later….
But “easier” does NOT mean better. “Less painful” does NOT equal happier, more joyful, more fulfilling or more pleasurable. And so instead of a tall double on the rocks, I order myself a sugary Root Beer or an unsweetened lemon iced tea, put on my big girl sober pants and get in the game.
There is something refreshing about maintaining a clear, present mind when making decisions about whether or not I want to spend one more minute with a person I’ve been texting for a week. There is something satisfying in the realization that I’m worthy of sobriety, that I’m capable and competent to set boundaries or let down my guard. Turns out I’m more than enough without the addition of liquid courage or chemical bravado. It’s actually rewarding to feel it all; the excitement and the rejection. The pleasure and the pain. No need for numbing agents, fuzzy edges or cloudy memories. I get to participate in all the decisions that are being made in regards to my life and finding out I kind of like it this way.
And I can tell you one other thing – it’s going to make for some delightfully humorous blog material. With that, I’ll leave you anticipating the juicy details to come.
It’s been a tremendous year of “Firsts”; a year of getting to know and to love myself again. My sincere wish is that my struggle will encourage another to feel hope that they too can do life sober. It’s a completely attainable goal. And if I need to make all the mistakes first to show you it’s possible, I’m happy to do that.
Friends, family, readers: join me in a toast as I salute the year that’s past, and welcome the year ahead. Raise your glass of water, ice tea, La Croix, or root beer….
May the year be filled with laughter, love and plenty of non alcoholic beverages. May I show up completely to live each day and write each blog with integrity, compassion and vulnerability. May the dates I encounter be kind, sexy and interesting enough to post about.
Cheers & Gratitude,
Tiffany, trying again. And again.