I’m starting to hate the word sober. I’m not sure it accurately represents what I’m going for here. I’m not sure it doesn’t imply something inaccurate about where I’ve recently been. I’ve been nowhere especially terrible. I’ve experienced something different than overdue consequences and bone-deep desperation.
The state of being sober.
It is what it is. It says what it says. It speaks my truth. For nineteen days. After roughly two-and-a-half years with hardly a day going by.
I’m in an undoubtedly better space. I’m experiencing few, if any, withdrawal symptoms. My appetite has mostly returned. My sleep has steadied. Though if the vivid dreams would give me a break, I’d be grateful. Mostly, my moods have stabilized. I feel happy. I find contentment. I don’t live in either of these places–not yet. But they visit.
I have other visitors too; I’m overcome with anxiety often. Can I keep this up? Is it worth it? Do I even deserve such effort and meticulousness? Am I only building something to lose it? I can slide easily into fuck this and fuck that and fuck it all while we’re at it. It scares me to value something, to hold on tight, to OMFG express desire and longing. It’s my epitome of vulnerability.
I’m here. I’m doing it. One day at a time.
For nineteen days.
I’ve had some hard days too. The weekends stretch out in a monotonous non-blur. Halloween was hard as I wanted it to feel celebratory and I know one foolproof way to do that. Sundays feel void without the “Funday” to follow. Mostly I find it exhausting to care so much. To not have a chemically-induced break from lucidity. To have hours stretch out unfilled. I’m so used to filling each unspoken for moment with the smoke from a pipe and/or the last drops in a glass. I’m used to counting the hours until I can go home and not think, not feel, not worry, not give so many taxing fucks. Now I have more time than I know what to do with, a bizarre reality for this working mom.
And the time scares me. The world scares me. Life scares me.
The excuses that bubble up in my head scare me. Upcoming events stress me. Unexpected invitations jar me. Occasions startle me. This election has nearly stalled me. Tuesday looms. I’d give a pinky to drink or smoke my way through this shit show. But I’m not. I haven’t. And I can’t honestly say I won’t.
I don’t know the future.
But I know for nineteen days I haven’t had a drink. I’ve seemingly detoxed from some pretty heavy marijuana use. I’ve navigated life substance-free. And I’m calling it sober. I’m naming it sobriety. Even if I never set foot in a meeting. Even if the steps I take are on my own path and of my own choosing. I’m writing this because I’ve spent nineteen days in a life-altering new space that often scares the shit out of me. But I’ve kept going. I’ve embraced that fear and the pain and uncertainty that inevitably hide beneath it. I’ve felt feelings as they’ve come my way. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve felt empty and I’ve felt full. I’ve felt inexplicable and I’ve felt already explained a bazillion times over. I’ve felt predictable and precarious. I’ve felt.
I’ve hated as much of it as I’ve appreciated.
I’m writing this now because today is hard. Because the chores and the family and the dogs and the candles and even the yoga haven’t been quite enough. Because a bottle beckons. Because those excuses rise up uninvited. Because my mind craves. Because this path isn’t supposed to be easy. Because honesty soothes me, and truth talks me down from the ledge. Because writing is my escape and I’d give a lot for a trapdoor at this moment.
I’m writing this because I may be sober, but I’m not healed. I’m not special. I’m not immune. I’m not exactly sure of my next move.
Tomorrow will be twenty. I’m determined I’ll get there.