There’s a song called “Wake Me When It’s Over” I used to listen to when I was drinking because (I thought) it fit my life. In many ways, it did; there were many days I thought, “Just wake me when all this is over.” By “all this,” I meant all my “troubles,” but I also meant addiction, though I wasn’t brave enough to admit it. I was only vaguely aware of the work it would take to get sober, and I was too scared to try for many years. I try to take it easy on myself when I look back at the time when my drinking really increased. There were key times I could have gotten help and stopped, but I chose not to. I’m sober now, and that’s what matters.
I also remind myself that even though I’ve changed in tremendous ways over the last eight months, I’m still me. I still have flaws and good aspects to my character; I can be lazy, and I can surprise people and be semi-spontaneous (that is, I don’t freak out as much if something doesn’t go as I’d scheduled in my mind). I like this quote by Olivia Laing from her book that I’ve mentioned quite a bit on this blog, The Trip to Echo Spring:
“But sobriety doesn’t necessarily mean a new character; rather a kind of slow sea change of spirit.”
Quite true. As we say in AA, we seek spiritual progress, not perfection, tempting as that might be. In the first few months of sobriety, I castigated myself for not feeling better, for never even getting a glimpse of the Pink Cloud, for my thinking and speech that often stumbled along in fits and spurts. This week–nearly nine months in–is the first time I’ve felt settled mentally and spiritually with some consistency. Last week, insecurity and self-doubt plagued me, so I hauled my ass into four meetings. I’ll make two this week, and that’s OK. I’m meeting with my sponsor Friday before a meeting, and I’ll go to the lovely downtown meeting Saturday.
Here’s another quote regarding AA that I like, especially from a creative person’s perspective. You can read the article in its entirety here (and I feel I linked it in a past post, too):
“’AA can only help weak people because their ego is strengthened by the group,” said Fitzgerald. ‘I was never a joiner.’ Certainly, if what you’re used to is rolling champagne bottles down Fifth Avenue beneath the light of a wanton moon or getting into the kind of barfights that make a man feel alive, truly alive, the basic facts of recovered life—the endless meetings, the rote ingestion of the sort of clichés the writer has spent his entire life avoiding—are below prosaic.”
I understand Fitzgerald’s hesitation, and I understand some of the criticism leveled at AA. I’m not a fan of AA purists, the ones who claim the only way to get and stay sober is through the Fellowship and the Big Book. AA is one of many tools in my recovery tool box, just like this blog is, and the wonderful blogs of yours I read.
For now, I’m awake, and I’m glad to be awake. I’ll take my sleep at night and wake up like I did today: refreshed and ready to meet the day. Even though I’ve been having more and more drinking dreams lately, I open my eyes in the morning and say to myself, Huh, I had another drinking dream. All right. There’s no dread or sickening feeling, no phantom hangover feeling lingering in my head or muscles. They’re just dreams, and they fade faster and faster the more sobriety I have.
That’s all from my cozy little office in the not-so Ivory Tower of my college. I wish you all a happy and sober Thursday.
Music listened to while writing this post:
- “Wake Me When It’s Over” by Longwave (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EXCm0GR0Do)
- Drawn and Quartered by Oneohtrix Point Never (http://pointnever.com/)